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Feb 08, 2013

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-SAM F. DAVIS-WITHERS-R B LEWIS

By: JOE GIRARDI


               There were three Kentucky Derby preps run on February 2nd at three different racetracks, one at Tampa Bay Downs, one at Aqueduct and one at Santa Anita.

               At Tampa Bay Downs, they hosted the Grade III Sam F. Davis, a race for three year olds run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $250,000. There was a field of nine that went postward in this race with the slight favorite going to MY NAME IS MICHAEL, a horse moving into the Bill Mott barn for the first time but he was also trying the dirt for the first time having run all of his races over the polytrack at Woodbine. The second choice in the race was DYNAMIC SKY, a winner of the Pasco stakes over this track in a very sharp time for trainer Mark Casse. As they broke from the gate FALLING SKY, bumped with a rival, was rushed up to try and make the lead, he did clear over on the turn and settled in down the backstretch. He set fractions of 23:2, 47:3, 1:12:3 and was still there into the lane. DYNAMIC SKY was caught wide around the turn but did have dead aim on FAILLING SKY for the whole stretch but he just couldn’t get by checking in second while racing erractically late. The final time of 1:44:3 will not break any stop watches and as the distances get longer I am not sure how far FALLING SKY was to go. DYNAMIC SKY should improve off that effort as well and may appreciate more ground. The favorite, MY NAME IS MICHAEL did close some ground late to finish third but it was not a great effort, however, it was his first try over the dirt and he was coming off a two month break, he is another that can improve going forward.

               At Aqueduct, they hosted the Grade III Withers stakes for three year olds at 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $200,000. The odds-on favorite in the race was REVOLUTIONARY, a horse from the Todd Pletcher barn who was making his first try versus winners. As they gates opened, VALID, part of the second choice entry stumbled badly at the start and was virtually eliminated. REVOLUTIONARY was racing near the back of the pack as well early on SIETE DE OROS was on the lead. Into the backstretch, SIETE DE OROS led through fractions of 24:1, 48, 1:12:2 and held that lead into the lane while being pursued by ESCAPEFROMREALITY who was took back off the pace after the start to stalk the early leaders. As they moved into deep stretch, ESCAPEFROMREALITY moved off the rail to take over the lead from SIETE DE OROS as the favorite, REVOLUTIONARY who was caught if traffic most of the race was trying to weave his way through and got up in the final strides to score by a neck in an impressive performance based on the trouble. ESCAPEFROMREALITY was a good second and SIETE DE OROS held on for third. LONG RIVER was an extremely disappointing 8th and last. It will be interesting to see where REVOLUTIONARY makes his next start but he has showed that he has a ton of ability.

               Finally the last prep race of the day came at Santa Anita in the form of a four horse field. The 1-2 favorite in the race was a Bob Baffert trainee, FLASHBACK, a big winner in his debut by more than three lengths back in early December. A well bred runner by Tapit, FLASHBACK was making his stakes debut in the Grade II Robert B. Lewis Stakes, a race run over 1 and 1/16th miles with a purse of $200,000. I’LL HAVE ANOTHER, last year’s Kentucky Derby winner won the Robert B. Lewis on his way to winning the Kentucky Derby. FLASHBACK came out of the gate running and set the moderate early pace through fractions of 24, 48:3, 1:12. He got some token pressure from HE’S HAD ENOUGH, who finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile back in November. As they moved around the far turn FLASHBACK was asked by jockey Julien Leparoux and he began to draw away into the lane to score by more than six easy lengths in a decent final time of 1:42:4 especially off those easy early fractions. DEN’S LEGACY, another Baffert trainee was up for second over HE’S HAD ENOUGH and then there was another 5 lengths back to LITTLE JERRY who checked in fourth and last. FLASHBACK has a bright future and is another whose next race is highly anticipated.

               All three of these prep races awarded 10 points for first, 4 points for second, 2 points for third and 1 point for fourth.

               On another note, even though it wasn’t in a Derby Prep, VERRAZANO, another Todd Pletcher trainee, made his second start, stretching out to a mile, he contested the early pace, took over into the lane and drew away very impressively to score by more than 16 lengths in a very sharp final time of 1:34:4. He may be the best of the Pletcher horses and can’t wait to see him stretch out to two turns.



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