Pasco Stakes winner Dynamic Sky, from the barn of trainer Mark Casse, headlines a 10-horse field for Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
The improving Ontario-bred 3-year-old is owned by Oklahoma oilman John C. Oxley, who campaigned 2001 Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos. Oxley and Casse teamed to win both the Pasco and $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G2) last year with Prospective, who finished second to Battle Hardened in the Sam F. Davis.
Luis Contreras, who rode Prospective in each of his 2012 starts at Tampa Bay Downs, has the assignment on Dynamic Sky.
Festival Preview Day marks the first time in the 87-year history of Tampa Bay Downs three graded stakes will be contested on one day. The Grade 3, $150,000 Florida Oaks for 3-year-old fillies and the Grade 3, $150,000 Endeavour Stakes for older fillies and mares will both be run on the turf course.
All three races will be at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth. The 33rd running of the Davis is a precursor to the Tampa Bay Derby on March 9, with all roads subsequently leading to the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands on May 4.
The Davis will be the 11th race Saturday, with the 30th renewal of the Florida Oaks as the seventh and the 14th running of the Endeavour the ninth on the card.
In addition to trying to improve on Prospective’s 2012 Davis performance, Dynamic Sky will seek his third stakes victory from six lifetime starts. He won the $200,000 Simcoe Stakes as a 2-year-old in September at Woodbine on the Toronto track’s all-weather surface.
Dynamic Sky also finished second last year in the Grade 1 Dixiana Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland before heading west for the Grade 1 Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita, where he finished sixth, 5 ¼ lengths behind winner Shanghai Bobby.
The $100,000 Pasco Stakes was Dynamic Sky’s first effort as a 3-year-old. In the Davis, Dynamic Sky, who has drawn the No. 9 post, will run as a wagering entry with the Oxley-owned and Casse-trained Northern Lion, who broke his maiden in his previous race at Gulfstream on Dec. 22 by 5 ½ lengths at the mile-and-a-sixteenth Davis distance. Patrick Husbands has the riding assignment.
Among Dynamic Sky’s opponents in the Davis will be a pair of familiar faces, Hardaway Stables, Inc.’s Speak Logistics and Silverton Hill LLC’s Divine Ambition.
Stakes winner Speak Logistics, who is from the barn of leading south Florida-based trainer Edward Plesa, Jr., will be making his 3-year-old debut. He last raced in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, finishing seventh, a half-length behind Dynamic Sky, after prompting the early pace. Leading Tampa Bay Downs jockey Angel Serpa will ride Speak Logistics.
Divine Ambition, who is trained by Darrin Miller, ran a strong third in the Pasco in only his third career start, behind Dynamic Sky and Casse-trained stablemate Sky Commander. Divine Ambition will be ridden by former Tampa Bay Downs leading jockey Willie Martinez.
The other Davis entrants with their trainers and jockeys include stakes-placed My Name Is Michael, trained by William Mott and to be ridden by Joel Rosario; Falling Sky, trained by John Terranova, II with Luis Saez in the saddle; Lightning Stone, trained by William Allyn, with Danny Coa named to ride; Silver Day, trained by William Kaplan with Marcelino Pedroza aboard; Balino, trained by Bernell Rhone, Nik Goodwin riding; and supplemental entry Midnite Poppa, from the barn of Nick Zito, Jose Lezcano up.
Dynamic Sky/Cooley photo