Litigate Lays Down the Law in Sam F. Davis

Litigate | SV Photography


Asked to negotiate two turns for the first time from a high draw, Centennial Farms' Litigate (Blame) sustained a long, wide run and dug in gamely to stake his claims on this year's Triple Crown trail with a victory in Saturday's GIII Sam F. Davis S. at Tampa Bay Downs. Groveland (Street Sense) made good progress up the rail to be second ahead of Classic Car Wash (Noble Bird) in third.

Bobbling ever so slightly as a steady rain began to fall across the Oldsmar oval, the $370,000 Keeneland September yearling was asked for some early speed to gain a forward position through the early stages and remained in the vanguard into the first turn before settling back into centerfield for the run up the backstretch. Racing in a share of sixth and wide on the track past an opening half-mile in a sensible :46.94, Litigate was no better than four wide at the three-eighths peg, but was beginning to find his best stride as 43-1 Zydeceaux (Cajun Breeze) continued to do the heavy lifting up front. Put to a hard drive, the bay colt caught the eye with a three- or four-wide sweep approaching the stretch, struck to the front with a little more than a furlong to travel and held sway late to score.

Favored Dubyuhnell (Good Magic), winner of last year's GII Remsen S., was checked sharply into the first turn and never reached contention.

“The first turn was very rough and I had to check really hard,” said jockey Jose Ortiz. “After that, he never got back on rhythm. That took him out of the race. It was very hard to get back to where I wanted to be.”

By an Eclipse Award and GI Breeders' Cup Classic winner and out of a mare by a Horse of the Year who twice won Grade Is at 10 furlongs, some might have questioned Litigate's ability to shine going three-quarters of a mile on Aqueduct debut Nov. 19, but that he did, overcoming a wide trip to graduate by 3/4 of a length. He found only beaten GIII Holy Bull S. favorite Cyclone Mischief (Into Mischief) too strong over Gulfstream's one-turn mile Jan. 8 and was well-backed to give Todd Pletcher a seventh Sam F. Davis trophy.

“He just really improved mentally since his last race and he put it all together today,” said Centennial President Don Little, Jr. “[Jockey] Luis [Saez] gave him a really tactical ride. He broke him early, got in there and saved some ground in the first turn and then moved him to the outside and let him rock. He came running at the end. It's exciting to be on the Derby trail.”

Pedigree Notes:

A 20th winner at the graded level and 44th black-type winner overall for his productive stallion, Litigate is out of an unraced half-sister to dual Grade III-winning sprinter Pacific Ocean (Ghostzapper) and to British stakes-placed Salsa Star (Giant's Causeway), the dam of Blame's two-time Grade III winner Blamed and of the stakes-placed Chubby Star (Malibu Moon). Third dam Oscillate was responsible for the outstanding South American shuttler Mutakddim (Seeking the Gold) and was a half-sister to champion Rhythm (Mr. Prospector) and his full-sister Get Lucky, whose produce included Grade I winner Girolamo (A.P. Indy) and MGSW & GISP Accelerator (A.P. Indy).

Salsa Diavola is responsible for a 2-year-old Kantharos filly who fetched $55,000 at KEESEP last all and a yearling filly by Twirling Candy. She most recently had a return date with Blame.

Saturday, Tampa Bay Downs
SAM F. DAVIS S.-GIII, $200,000, Tampa Bay Downs, 2-11, 3yo, 1 1/16m, 1:44.83, ft.
1–LITIGATE, 120, c, 3, by Blame
                1st Dam: Salsa Diavola, by Mineshaft
                2nd Dam: Miss Salsa, by Unbridled
                3rd Dam: Oscillate, by Seattle Slew
Ylg '21 KEESEP). O-Centennial Farms; B-Nursery Place,
Donaldson & Broadbent (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher; J-Luis Saez.
$120,000. Lifetime Record: 3-2-1-0, $182,590. Werk Nick
Rating: A+++. *Triple Plus*
Click for the eNicks report & 5-cross pedigree.
Click for the free catalogue-style pedigree.
2–Groveland, 120, c, 3, Street Sense–Lucknow,
TYPE. O/B-Godolphin (KY); T-Eoin G. Harty. $40,000.
3–Classic Car Wash, 120, g, 3, Noble Bird–East Lake Classic,
($105,000 2yo '22 OBSMAR). O-Gary Barber; B-Sherry R.
Mansfield & Kenneth H. Davis (FL); T-Mark E. Casse. $20,000.
Margins: 1 1/4, 1HF, HD. Odds: 2.80, 21.60, 12.00.
Also Ran: Classic Legacy, Zydeceaux, Laver, Dreaming of Kona, Dubyuhnell, Prairie Hawk, Worthington, Champions Dream. Scratched: Notah.
Click for the chart and the PPs. VIDEO, sponsored by TVG.

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