McCraken lived up to all the hype. And then some.

The unbeaten 3-year-old colt extended his record to 4-for-4 with a one-and-a-half length victory from Tapwrit in the 37th edition of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs in stakes and track-record time of 1:42.45 for the mile-and-a-sixteenth. State of Honor finished third.

“He puts a lot of confidence in you, that’s for sure,” jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., said of McCraken, who staged a powerhouse rally on the turn and rolled to victory. “You’ve just got to go with it and ride him with confidence. I asked him at about the half-mile pole and he hesitated a bit, but I think that was his way of telling me ‘Don’t worry. We’re going to get the job done.’ ”

McCraken paid $5 to win as the betting favorite in the field of nine sophomores. Owner Janis Whitham of Whitham Thoroughbreds, who bred the son of Ghostzapper-Ivory Empress, by Seeking the Gold, headed a large contingent of Whithams in town to watch the race.

A crowd of 5,420 watched the lucrative Festival Preview Day Presented by Lambholm South card, which attracted total wagering handle of $9,488,679.92.

Trainer Ian Wilkes, who was an assistant to trainer Carl Nafzger for Kentucky Derby victories by Unbridled in 1990 and Street Sense in 2007, barely seemed to be concerned by getting 10 “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points for the victory.

“If he’s good enough, he’ll take us there,” Wilkes said. How good is he? “I don’t know how good. But there have been some nice horses that have run a mile-and-a-sixteenth here” such as Street Sense in the 2007 Tampa Bay Derby, Wilkes said with a knowing grin.

“We’ve got a long way to go. This is not a one-race program,” Wilkes said. “I want two more races for him, then the Derby. This is just one stepping stone, and we keep building.

“Let’s pay all credit to the horse,” Wilkes added. “He’s taking us there. Let’s pay attention to him.”



Conrad Farms’ homebred STATE OF HONOR ran well in defeat in the Sam Davis at Tampa, leading most of the way until giving in late to be 3rd beaten about 2 1/2 lengths. The son of To Honor and Serve remains a question mark at distances over 1 1/16 miles but he is a very large 3-year-old colt who is handling himself well in stakes company this winter.

KING AND HIS COURT, who was the early Queen’s Plate favourite heading into his season debut in the Davis, trailed all the way in the race and was beaten 22 lengths. Like State of Honor, he is trained by Mark Casse. The gelding had won the Coronation Futurity and Display Stakes last fall in a real coup for owner Gary barber and co-owner Wachtel Stable but this was his first race on dirt. The son of Court Vision, who had Beyer Figures of 72 heading into the Davis may not like the dirt but he also would have to improve on his low numbers from his 2-year-old season.

The Queen’s Plate nominations and mythical odds for the race are due out in a week’s time.





STALLION HEIRESS could be a very special Ontario bred filly – by Exchange Rate – bred by Sean and Dorothy Fitzhenry – FAIR GROUNDS PHOTO






Stallionaire Enterprises’ Stallion Heiress was nothing short of dominant in her stakes debut Saturday afternoon at Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots, sauntering home an easy 7¾-length gate-to-wire winner under Mitchell Murrill for trainer Mike Stidham in the $50,000 Joseph E. ‘Spanky’ Broussard Memorial.

Making her second start and first around two turns, the 3-year-old daughter of Exchange Rate immediately jumped out to the lead from her rail post in the six-filly field, opening a nine-length advantage through fractions of 23.99, 47.96 and 1:13.58 for six furlongs before coming home in hand in 1:37.28 for the grassy mile. She had not raced since airing on debut Dec. 8 going 5½ furlongs over the same Stall-Wilson turf course.

Finishing a distant second was Hugh Robertson’s Hotshot Anna under Marcelino Pedroza, followed by Tom Proctor-trained second choice Rum Go in third with Sophie Doyle.

Stallion Heiress returned $4, $3 and $2.10 as the even-money favorite, while Hotshot Anna returned $4.20 and $2.20 and Rum Go returned $2.10 to show. The bay filly increased her career bankroll to $53,490 for ownership principal Rick Kanter, who paid $100,000 for her at Keeneland’s September 2015 yearling sale.

“I was a little concerned coming off the sprint with how fast she ran then, but she relaxed really good for me,” Murrill said. “She did everything and I was just a passenger.”

“That was impressive,” Stidham added. “She did it all on her own. You always worry coming out of one sprint race going two turns, plus having a bit of a layoff, but she has class and she did it nicely.”

STALLION HEIRESS was a $100,000 Keeneland September yearling in 2015, sold by Keith Lancaster for the Fitzhenrys. The dam is Mendocino Beano, a winner by

Smart Strike whose first foal is the newly turned 4yo Conquest Fleetfleet, who was stakes placed last year



At Hill ‘n’ Dale, at least 10 foals have arrived including this filly by Curlin out of Glorious Song Stakes winner CASCADING, by A.P. Indy…


Cool collage of photos from recent foaling of Curlin filly at Hill ‘n’ Dale Farm in Aurora -thank you Lorie Sikura










Rank Horse Points Owner(s) Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings

1. Classic Empire 32 John C. Oxley Mark Casse $1,493,820
2. El Areeb 20 M M G Stables LLC (Mohammed Al-Gadhi) Cathal Lynch $300,000
3. McCraken 20 Whitham Thoroughbreds LLC (Janis R. Whitham) Ian Wilkes $285,048
4. Gormley 20 Mr. & Mrs. Jerome S. Moss (Jerry & Ann Moss) John Shirreffs $260,000
Not This Time 18 Albaugh Family Stable (Dennis Albaugh) Dale Romans $430,210

5. Gunnevera 14 Peacock Racing Stables LLC (Solomon Del-Valle, Guillermo Guerra & Jaime Diaz) Antonio Sano $807,200
6. Practical Joke 14 Klaravich Stables Inc. (Seth Klarman) & William H. Lawrence Chad Brown $690,000
7. Uncontested 11 Harry T. Rosenblum & Robert V. LaPenta Wayne Catalano $99,300
8. Lookin At Lee 10 L and N Racing LLC (Don Nelson) Steve Asmussen $275,600
9. Irish War Cry 10 Isabella De Tomaso Graham Motion $272,660

10. Mastery 10 Cheyenne Stables LLC (Everett Dobson) Bob Baffert $240,000
11. Mo Town 10 Mrs. John Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith & Team D Tony Dutrow $180,000
12. Guest Suite 10 William S. Farish & Lora Jean Kilroy Neil Howard $128,040
13. Royal Mo 10 Mr. & Mrs. Jerome S. Moss (Jerry & Ann Moss) John Shirreffs $90,000
14. Irap 8 Reddam Racing LLC (J. Paul Reddam) Doug O’Neill $90,000
15. Wild Shot 7 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Rusty Arnold II $97,200

16. True Timber 6 Calumet Farm (Brad Kelley) Kiaran McLaughlin $65,000
17. No Dozing 5 Lael Stables (Roy & Gretchen Jackson) Arnaud Delacour $89,000
18. Bonus Points 5 Three Diamonds Farm (Kirk, Debra & Jordan Wycoff) Todd Pletcher $52,500
19. Klimt 4 Kaleem Shah Inc. Art Sherman $380,000
20. Hot Sean 4 Karl Watson, Mike Pegram & Paul Weitman Bob Baffert $180,000

21. Dangerfield 4 W. C. Racing (Josh Kaplan & Glenn Sorgenstein) and Zayat Stables LLC (Ahmed Zayat) Doug O’Neill $171,500
22. Syndergaard 4 Eric Fein, Christopher McKenna, Harris Fein, Guri Singh & Jerry Walia Todd Pletcher $160,000
23. Tapwrit 4 Bridlewood Farm, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners (Aron Wellman) & Robert V. LaPenta Todd Pletcher $85,570
24. Petrov 4 Rialto Racing Stables LLC (Catherine Adams Hutt) & Southern Spring Stables (Ron Moquett) Ron Moquett $50,000
25. Untrapped 4 Michael Langford Steve Asmussen $40,000
26. American Anthem 4 WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt), S F Bloodstock LLC (Garvin Murphy, Neil Bowden & Tom Ryan) & China Horse Club (Ah Khing Teo)
Bob Baffert $20,000
27. J Boys Echo 3 Albaugh Family Stables LLC (Jason Loustch) Dale Romans $75,000
28. Warrior’s Club 3 Churchill Downs Racing Club (Gary Palmisano et al) D. Wayne Lukas $26,100
29. Recruiting Ready 2 Sagamore Farm (Kevin Plank) Horacio DePaz $52,025
30. State of Honor 2 Conrad Farm Mark Casse $49,564