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The Jose D’Angelo-trained No More Time won the 2024 Sam F Davis Stakes Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs, a prep race for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
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For much of the Grade III, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, winning jockey Paco Lopez felt like he was living a dream.
Lopez’s instructions from trainer Jose Francisco D’Angelo were to try to break well from the No. 5 post and sit in a stalking position early in the mile-and-a-sixteenth race. But as 3-year-old Thoroughbreds often do, No More Time took matters into his own hooves and surged to the lead from the outset, with Lopez happy to go along for the ride.
No More Time, who won for the second time in four starts, completed the distance in 1:43.26, .82 seconds off Flameaway’s 2018 stakes record. The winner picked up 20 points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” toward earning a spot in the May 4 Run for the Roses starting gate at Churchill Downs.
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Despite running a 4-furlong split of 46.61 seconds and a 6-furlong time of 1:10.81 that were faster than both men wanted, the Iowa-bred son of Not This Time-Baroness Juliette, by Speightstown, had the vigor to turn back a serious challenge from longshot West Saratoga at the top of the stretch, then hold off Agate Road for a 1 ¼-length victory.
West Saratoga held on for third, with Elysian Meadows fourth in the 12-horse field. Both Everdoit, who swerved into the gate at the start, and jockey Huber Villa-Gomez, who was unseated, were pronounced fine after the race.
No More Time paid $8.60 to win as the betting favorite despite being 10-1 on the morning line.
To Lopez and D’Angelo, the race couldn’t have unfolded any better.
“(D’Angelo) told me to put on the brakes out of the gate and sit third or fourth, but my horse broke unbelievable and I let him go,” Lopez said. “The pace was a little faster than I wanted, but his first and second quarters were very natural. I had plenty of horse the whole way and when I asked him, he gave me everything.”
An apparent dearth of early speed in the race led D’Angelo to try to have No More Time lay second, third or fourth early, but he was not overly concerned when the horse went to the lead on his own. D’Angelo said a 5-furlong breeze in 1:00 on Feb. 3 at Palm Meadows Training Center set him up perfectly for such an effort.
“That was a monster move,” D’Angelo said. “He took the lead with no problem today. I said before the race we wanted a good start and we’ll see what happens, but (No More Time) did it on his own.”
The conditioner is hopeful of returning to Oldsmar for the Grade III, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on March 9. “We will make the right decision for the horse, not for us,” D’Angelo said. “But if everything is in good order we’ll probably come back because he likes it here.”
Randy Hartley and Dean DeRenzo purchased No More Time for $40,000 as a yearling and are partners in the colt with Morplay Racing, the father-son team of Orlando resident Rich Mendez and his son Josh. “We decided to keep him instead of selling him, and it’s an amazing feeling to win this race,” Rich Mendez said.
“I spoke to Paco after the race and he said the horse was just playing with them. After his last race (fifth in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 1 at Gulfstream), when he fell about 10 lengths back and still came back and tried to compete, we really felt good about him. He has so much heart.”
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