OLDSMAR — V stood for victory — by a nose.
Vinceremos, a 12-1 shot ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado, needed every inch of a ground-saving trip to stave off stablemate Harpoon and win the Grade III $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
The Festival Preview Day card drew an announced crowd of 4,812.
It was the fifth Davis Stakes victory for six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher, who watched the four-horse blanket finish via simulcast from Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach.
Vinceremos, a 3-year-old son by 2009 Kentucky Derby runnerup Pioneerof the Nile out of the More Than Ready mare Kettle's Sister, remains eligible for the Downs' $1-million prize that goes to the owners if he can win the Tampa Bay Derby on March 8 and the Kentucky Derby on May 3.
His owners are WinStar Farm, which collected its fifth Davis win, and Twin Creeks Racing Stables.
"I'm sure it's going to be maybe the Tampa Bay Derby (for Vinceremos' next start)," assistant trainer Ginny Depasquale said.
Vinceremos entered with two career starts and was coming off a maiden win Jan. 4 at Gulfstream Park. He showed heart and stamina in his stakes debut.
Vinceremos contested the early lead with Cousin Stephen through fractions of 24.35 and 48.77 seconds, but he fell back to fourth entering the final turn as five foes made their respective moves — including Harpoon in the 6-path.
Prado asked more from Vinceremos at that point and the Kentucky-bred responded. He moved in front by 1½ lengths down the lane, then was all out to nip Harpoon. Cousin Stephen and Matador were less than a length behind.
"When (Cousin Stephen) took the lead, (Vinceremos) put the brakes on," Prado said. "So around the turn I let the other horses go by and see if I could get going again in the stretch."
Vinceremos ($26.80) clocked 1�th miles in 1 minute, 47.34 seconds. The $120,000 paycheck raised his lifetime earnings to $153,600.
Vinceremos was purchased in April for $340,000 at the Keeneland 2-year-old sale in Lexington, Ky.
"It looked like (Vinceremos) was dropping back and was done for the day," Depasquale said.
"All of a sudden, there he was. Then (Harpoon) came running on the outside. A dead heat would have been perfect."
Asserting Bear, School On a Hill, 9-5 favorite Noble Cornerstone and Imaginethatmom were next, respectively.
"I think (Asserting Bear) got a little tired on the dirt surface for the first time," assistant trainer Leroy Trotman said.
Other stakes winners were Guys Reward ($31.60) with jockey Abdiel Jaen in the Grade III $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, and Please Explain ($5) with Julien Leparoux in the $100,000 Suncoast Stakes.
Ben Wheelock of Hudson had his name randomly drawn by Prado to be eligible for the Downs' $100,000 fan bonus should Vinceremos win the remaining designated races.