Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Asserting Bear leads Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs

OLDSMAR — Welcome to U.S. soil, Asserting Bear. It is time for a new challenge, a new surface and to be assertive.

The stakes-winning Canadian-bred colt can take his connections to new places, beginning with today's Grade III $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

The Sam F. Davis (Race 9, 4:25 p.m.), a 1�th-mile race for 3-year-olds, is the showcase on a Festival Preview Day card that includes the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes (8, 3:55) and Grade III $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (10, 4:55).

The Downs is offering a $1 million bonus to the Davis-winning owner if the horse can capture the Tampa Bay Derby on March 8 and the Kentucky Derby on May 3. One fan who selects the Davis winner also will be eligible from a random drawing for a $100,000 prize if the horse wins all three races. The Davis Stakes was dropped this year by Churchill Downs as a Kentucky Derby points qualifier.

Those were nonfactors to Canadian-based trainer Reade Baker, 66, who hopes his Asserting Bear (post 6) will be golden in his first start of the year with jockey Joe Rocco Jr. "I want (Asserting Bear) to have a run over the track for the Tampa Bay Derby," Baker said. "We might as well find out whether the (Kentucky) Derby is a realistic thing at this point."

Harpoon drew the rail in the eight-horse field for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Asserting Bear, the first stakes champion by Grade II winner Bear's Kid out of the stakes-placed Assert mare Star Guest, has raced exclusively on Polytrack and turf at Woodbine in Toronto. He was shipped to Palm Beach Downs in Delray Beach on Dec. 16 to prepare for what could be the first Kentucky Derby start for Baker and Bear Stables owner Danny Dion of Bonnyville, Alberta. They've come close before.

The pair tried with Kentucky Bear in 2008, but he lacked sufficient graded earnings for the Kentucky Derby and eventually raced in the Preakness Stakes (finished sixth). Then Dion, whose Bear Slashing company is the world's largest mulching operation, was talked out of purchasing a Canadian-based gelding by Baker. That horse was Mine That Bird, who went on to win the 2009 Kentucky Derby.

"Danny wanted to buy (Mine That Bird) and I told him it wasn't a very good idea," Baker said. "I thought we had a better horse at home."

Bear's Kid was the first winner Baker saddled for Dion, so it was a natural for Baker to buy Asserting Bear at the Sept. 2012 Canadian yearling sale for $50,715. He has earned $232,157 with two wins from six starts.

"Asserting Bear was very unique because it was a proven, reasonably priced sire (Bear's Kid stands for $2,500), and (Asserting Bear) is a half-brother to a horse that won nearly $1 million (Grade II winner Inish Gloria)," Baker said. "Even excluding the pedigree, he was a marvelous looking horse."

Asserting Bear, a 2013 Sovereign Award finalist for Canada's top 2-year-old male, will add blinkers and comes off three excellent outings. He won the $250,000 Coronation Futurity on Nov. 17 and lost two stakes by 1½ combined lengths: third in the $250,000 Cup and Saucer (to Matador, a colt he faces today) and second in the $125,000 Kingarvie in his last start Dec. 7.

"His development has been very positive," Baker said. "He's a very easy horse to work with.

"Every owner in America wants to win a Kentucky Derby, so we're here. If we don't have enough (qualifying) points and the (Kentucky) Derby is too tough, we'll go for the Queen's Plate (the first jewel of Canada's Triple Crown on July 6 at Woodbine). We hope he stays on the Derby trail."

Asserting Bear leads Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs 01/31/14 [Last modified: Friday, January 31, 2014 9:29pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  2. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener


    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  3. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush


    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  4. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.
  5. Rays up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field

    The Heater

    Tonight: Off

    Up next: vs. Blue Jays, 7:10 p.m. Tuesday, Tropicana Field.