PICKS: 1-4-6-8 (Grade 3 Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs)
We come back to Florida this afternoon and take a visit to Tampa Bay Downs where four stakes races will be contested, including three Grade 3’s, highlighted by the $200,000 Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes for 3-year-old over 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
The field of 8 will go to gate for race 11 on the 12-race card with an approximate post time of 5:29 p.m. ET.
#1, Ajaweed, Joel Rosario, 4-1 - Three starts back, he won his first race in only his second career start in a maiden special weight race at Belmont Park on Sept. 11. He then jumped up to the graded stakes ranks, having finished fourth in the Grade 1 Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland on Oct. 5 and in his last, bounced back nicely with a solid runner-up performance to Shotski by a ½ length in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct on Dec. 7. Shotski followed up with a runner-up finish of his own in his last in the Grade 3 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on Feb. 1. Ajaweed has now had a taste of graded stakes experience and with the duo of jockey Joel Rosario and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin, I think he gets it done today at a decent price. The pick.
#4, Independence Hall, Jose Ortiz, 6-5 - A perfect 3-for-3 in all his career starts, highlighted by a more-than-impressive 12 ¼-length triumph as the fifth choice over Meru in the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes win at Aqueduct on Nov. 3. Jose Ortiz is back aboard for his third straight start for trainer Michael Trombetta. He has showed no flaws in his races, the question is can he keep it up at a new venue, where he has not raced before with a solid field on both sides of him. We shall see. Taking a shot with another. Runner-up.
#6, Premier Star, John Velazquez, 3-1 - He will be racing in his first graded stakes race today, after two straight triumphs at Gulfstream Park in a maiden special weight in his debut on Dec. 8 and an allowance optional claiming race on Jan. 15. He has had two nice performances back-to-back, but can he do it on the big stage in his graded debut. John Velazquez has the mount for trainer Jorge Navarro. Contender.
#8, Chapalu, Daniel Centeno, 8-1 – After place second in his debut in a maiden special weight race at Laurel Park on Aug. 1, Chapalu has rattled off two straight wins in a maiden special weight on Oct. 6 and in his first graded stakes race, the Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine on Oct. 27, by a ½-length as the favorite. Daniel Centeno is in the saddle for trainer Arnaud Delacour. Could surprise. In the mix.
By Lou Monaco