Big Blue Nation will have a sentimental favorite in this weekend’s biggest Kentucky Derby prep race.
A 3-year-old chestnut colt named Kentucky Wildcat is set to run in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday, and an impressive showing in the weekend’s only Derby points race would strengthen his chances of making it to the big race in May.
Kentucky Wildcat — bred in Kentucky and sired by Tapit — is the 9-2 third choice on the morning line for the Sam F. Davis Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race scheduled to go off at 5:25 p.m. Saturday. His dam is multiple Grade 1 winner Better Lucky, the daughter of Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper, and he’s already generated some buzz this winter as a Kentucky Derby sleeper pick.
Wearing the familiar blue silks of the Godolphin racing outfit, Kentucky Wildcat won for the first time in a maiden race at Aqueduct on Dec. 1 and has faced some stout competition early in his career. That victory followed a third-place finish at Belmont Park in October and a sixth-place showing in his debut at Saratoga in August.
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Kentucky Wildcat is trained by Thomas Albertrani, who has had two previous Kentucky Derby starters: Brilliant Speed (seventh in 2011) and Deputy Glitters (eighth in 2006). Jockey Joe Bravo will be aboard Kentucky Wildcat on Saturday.
If he makes it through the prep season and into the Derby starting gate three months from now, Kentucky Wildcat will surely draw more than his fair share of wagers from the casual bettors.
The morning-line favorite for the Sam F. Davis Stakes is Knicks Go, who was a long-shot winner of the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland in October before finishing second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill Downs a few weeks later.
Knicks Go, trained by Ben Colebrook, was 11th in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill three weeks after his runner-up finish in the Juvenile.