It's hard to believe there are only 12 weeks until the Kentucky Derby. Future wagering on the Run for the Roses will be held this weekend, but there are still plenty of opportunities for aspiring candidates to earn their spots in the starting gate.
This weekend features the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. Catholic Boy is the slight favorite on the morning line, switching back to dirt after a strong finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Dale Romans has entered Hollywood Star, and the Todd Pletcher trainee Vino Rosso could pose a threat. Another interesting entrant is the Mark Casse-trained Flameaway, who won an off-the-turf stake at Keeneland last fall.
Santa Anita's G2 San Vicente does not offer Derby points, but Bob Baffert trainee Ax Man could be headed in that direction with a strong performance in the seven-furlong contest.
The lone Grade 1 of the weekend is the Gulfstream Park Turf Handicap on Saturday, led by frontrunning fan favorite Heart to Heart and the Chad Brown-trained Money Multiplier. Todd Pletcher will saddle the Argentine-bred Hi Happy in the 1 1/8-mile event.
A pair of Eclipse Award champions will make their 2018 debuts this weekend. World Approval is entered in the G3 Tampa Bay Stakes at Tampa, and Unique Bella will run in the G2 Santa Maria at Santa Anita.
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