Saturday's $225,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) features a match-up between local star UPTOWNCHARLYBROWN (Limehouse) and Grade 3 winner RULE (Roman Ruler) at Tampa Bay Downs. A total of seven three-year-olds are entered for the 1 1/16-mile event, which serves as a prep for the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) on March 13.
Uptowncharlybrown will bring a perfect two-for-two mark into his graded debut. After opening his racing career with a nine-length thrashing over maiden special weight rivals on December 26, the Alan Seewald-trained colt didn't disappoint in his first start against stakes rivals, romping by six lengths in the January 16 Pasco S. at Tampa. He registered commendable BRIS Speed ratings of 98 and 94 for those wins, but both came in sprints against questionable company. The promising chestnut will receive a class check in his two-turn bow on Saturday, and Daniel Centeno will retain the mount.
Rule, who hails from the strong Todd Pletcher stable in South Florida, will bring a three-race winning streak into the Sam F. Davis. After placing in his first two starts, the dark bay colt broke his maiden in wire-to-wire fashion at Belmont and proceeded to capture a pair of stakes at Delta Downs, including the lucrative Delta Jackpot (G3) on December 4. He owns a field-best 101 BRIS Speed rating, and regular rider John Velazquez will be along to guide the front runner.
Derek Ryan made headlines last year at Tampa with Musket Man (Yonaguska), who went on to win the Illinois Derby (G2) and finish third in both the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1), and the conditioner will look to develop SCHOOLYARD DREAMS (Stephen Got Even) into a top-class performer in 2010. A maiden scorer at Philadelphia Park two starts back, Schoolyard Dreams exits an allowance/optional claiming victory over the track and will be equipped with first-time blinkers for his initial stakes foray. He also picks up the services of Cornelio Velasquez.
Maiden winner MIDDLE OF THE NITE (Offlee Wild), who exits a third behind Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway) in a Gulfstream allowance, merits respect in his first stakes appearance for Tom Albertrani and will keep Edgar Prado in the saddle. Pasco fourth-placer SILVER CRAFT (Value Plus) and maiden winners AFRICAN MOON (Johannesburg) and TRISTEN'S MAMBO (Arch) round out the line-up.