Saturday Stakes: Tampa Bay Next Stop on Road to KY Derby

by: Rich Bieglmeier

Forget Groundhog Day, three things mark the start of spring for me.

1. The Daytona 500
2. Major League Baseball’s pitchers and catchers reporting to camp
3. Kentucky Derby/Oaks Prep races with a major uptick in the stakes racing schedule

The Daytona 500 is next Sunday, February 17th.

The Oakland A’s pitchers and catchers will be the first to report camp on Monday, February 11th, the Seattle Mariners on the 12th and just about everybody else on the 13th. Spring training will be in full swing by the 18th with the A’s and Mariners getting together for the first exhibition game on the 21st.

Stakes races explode in numbers this Saturday with 17 that offer prize money of at least $100,000. Delta Downs is the busiest race track with 10 stakes races, six of which are for at least $100k.

The full schedule also includes the Kentucky Derby prep race SAM F. DAVIS STAKES at Tampa Bay Downs and two Kentucky Oaks prep qualifiers; the LAS VIRGENES STAKES at Santa Anita and the SUNCOAST STAKES at Tampa Bay Downs.

Currently second in Kentucky Derby qualifying with 18 points and $685,085 in winnings, KNICKS GO headlines Tampa’s SAM F. DAVIS STAKES. A field of 10, three-year-olds with run 1 1/16th-miles on Tampa’s main track with the winner adding 10 points to their Kentucky Derby qualifying points, four points are awarded for second, two for third and one for finishing fourth.

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