TAMPA, FL – Stonehedge’s homebred Well Defined resumed his winning ways in impressive fashion on Saturday, taking the evenly-matched field of nine from start to finish in the Grade 3, $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.
Breaking alertly from post 9 under Pablo Morales at 7/1 odds, Well Defined quickly asserted himself as lone speed before posting unpressured fractions of :23.23, :47.09, and 1:11.68. Given a shake of the reins midway through the far turn while still unchallenged, Well Defined found a new gear and hit the top of the stretch ready to take off. Kept to task the duration of the run home, the Kathleen O’Connell trainee hit the wire first by 2 3/4 lengths in a final time of 1:42.70 for the 1 1/16-mile event over the fast main track.
“This horse has a ton of natural talent and I was going to take advantage of that,” Morales said. “I wasn’t too worried about where I was going to be because we were really lucky with the draw position on the outside, so I figured I was going to ride a cool race. The horse is naturally fast and has a super-long stride. I was going to come out running, but if somebody wanted to take the lead, I was OK with that. All I wanted to do was ride a cool and collected race and keep my horse running. I didn’t feel like I was going that fast at all. My horse was going as comfortable as he possible could. I knew he was doing it relaxed and very much on his own. I had a lot of horse going into the second turn, so I figured I was going to ask him a little more and not wait for them to get me. If they were going to catch me, they were really going to have to come running.”
After lagging at the rear for much of the race, Kentucky Wildcat ran five-wide in the far turn and was the only competitor able to close on the winner in the stretch. Nearly 9 lengths behind him came So Alive for third, while Counter Offer was able to nose out fourth over the weakened 8/5 favorite Knicks Go. Sixth went to Five Star General, with Still Dreaming necking out Moonster for seventh. Going for Gold completed the order of finish. Cave Run was scratched.
The Sam F. Davis is part of the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Well Defined earned 10 points for the win, with Kentucky Wildcat receiving 4 for second, So Alive 2 for third, and Counter Offer 1 for fourth.
After crossing the finish line, Kentucky Wildcat was pulled up and exited the track via the van. As first reported by DRF’s Marty McGee, the track veterinarian disclosed that the Godolphin homebred colt had instability in his right knee. Though the injury doesn’t sound life-threatening, it’s unlikely that Kentucky Wildcat returns again this spring.
Well Defined’s win was his first since dominating the $400,000 Florida Sire In Reality Stakes by 7 1/2 lengths at Gulfstream Park on September 29 and was a return to form after finishing a disappointing fifth last out in the $100,000 Mucho Macho Man Stakes. The 3-year-old gelded son of With Distinction now carries a record of 7-3-1-1 with $490,570 bankrolled.
“That’s very, very special to do it at Tampa Bay,” O’Connell said. “He’s had little things that have happened and he’s grown up mentally and physically, and today, he showed up with his game face on. I like this horse a lot and the decision (on what’s next) will be up to the owners, but we just want him healthy. He is kind of a free-running horse. His rear end slipped out from underneath him in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and he was compromised on early position when he ran in the Mucho Macho Man and got bottled up inside, but he’s a young horse who is improving, mind-wise and everything-wise.”
Well Defined returned $16 to win, $7.60 to place, and $4.60 to show. Kentucky Wildcat brought back $4.60 to place and $3.20 to show, while So Alive paid $3.40 to show.