OLDSMAR — There is nothing like receiving good news in person.
Tampa Bay Downs spokeswoman Margo Flynn hopes that will be the case Monday when she attends the grading session of the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association American Graded Stakes Committee in Lexington, Ky.
Flynn was invited to watch the 11 committee members review and assign graded status to U.S. stakes races for next year. Her particular interest is whether the Sam F. Davis Stakes will attain Grade III status, which would give the Oldsmar track five graded races for the first time in its 83 years.
"It would further validate what we have been striving for over the years, trying to improve our 3-year-old program," Flynn said. "The horses have been performing consistently well."
TBD vice president and general manager Peter Berube recently raised the Sam F. Davis purse to $225,000. If the 11/16-mile event for 3-year-olds is graded, it would join the Tampa Bay Derby, Hillsborough Stakes, Florida Oaks and Endeavour as Grade III events.
Since 2005, three Sam F. Davis winners — Any Given Saturday, Bluegrass Cat and Andromeda's Hero — have run in the Kentucky Derby. This year, Sam F. Davis runners Big Truck, Smooth Air and Z Humor raced in the Louisville classic.
Last year, 718 stakes races were reviewed. Graded status was given to 481, up seven from the year before.
GREYHOUNDS: Lester Raines Kennel co-manager Jeanne Lesperance said she wasn't surprised when Kelsos Hathaway won the $20,000 Fall Juvenile Stakes on Nov. 15 at Derby Lane in St. Petersburg. It was the first career stakes win for the sprinter trained by Ken Lesperance, Jeanne's husband. "(Kelsos Hathaway has) been getting a little stronger each start, kind of coming into his own," she said. "I think he's going to be one heck of a nice dog. At the Sprint stake ($85,000 Sprint Classic on Feb. 21-March 7), he ought to be really hitting his prime." … Floyd & Porter's Legends Field made his 200th career start Friday, tying his dam, Touche Baby. … Flying Stanley, all-time top earner in the sport, is back with McAllister Kennels after a stint in Kansas. … Derby Lane will not have live racing on Thanksgiving, but simulcast wagering and poker will be available. Friday it will have a live matinee-evening doubleheader.