(Independence Hall / Photo Courtesy of NYRA)

Tampa Bay Downs has figured out a way to catch “Kentucky Derby Fever.”

It has created a couple of major preps for the “First Saturday in May.”

The first of those steps comes on Saturday with the track hosts the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes.

The field of nine usually gets a few runners that then point to the track’s lynchpin event — the Tampa Bay Derby. And, this year’s version has a few names — and race games — that you may already notice, but may take note of even more with Saturday is done.

The leader of the group going in is Independence Hall. The 3YO son of Constitution is a perfect 3-for-3 in his young career, and has already won this year, too, capturing the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day.

After that event, he was shipped South immediately and has recorded 4 published works over the Tampa Bay main dirt track since Jan. 13. The last move came on Feb. 2 when he went 4 furlongs in :48.60 for trainer Michael J. Trombetta.

Independence Hall — who sold at the Keeneland September Yearling Sale in 2018 for $100,000, but later did not meet his reserve price when entered for the Fasig-Tipton March 2YO Sale a year ago — got his career started with a win on debut at Parx Racing last September. He immediately came right back in early November to win the G3 Nashua Stakes by an overwhelming margin of 121/4 lengths.

It was time for people to start talking. And, time to take note, as well.

The dark bay colt got his 3rd straight win in the Jerome Stakes, when he went 1 mile over the dirt track at Aqueduct and won by 4 easy lengths. The margin could have been more. The headlines could not have been more impressive.

Now, Independence Hall will stretch out to 11/16-miles on Saturday. And, he is likely to face his toughest competition to date.

The racing world awaits. He is the real deal?

Here’s a look at the field:

RACE 11 Sam F. Davis S. (Grade III) POST TIME – 5:29 ET

Daily Double / Exacta / Trifecta ($.50 minimum) / Superfecta ($.10 minimum) Super High 5

Tampa Bay Downs STAKES

Purse $250,000. (Includes $50,000 – Other Sources). For Three Year Olds. Free nominations. $850 to pass the entry box and $850 additional to start with $250,000 Guaranteed, (which includes $50,000 FTBOA Stakes Funds for Registered Florida Breds, which go entirely to the winner.) For those not eligible for Florida monies the winning owner to receive $120,000, $40,000 to second, $20,000 to third, $10,000 to fourth, $6,000 to fifth and $4,000 to sixth of the $200,000 Guaranteed. Weight: 124 Lbs. Non-winners of a Grade I or II at one mile or over, 2 Lbs.; a Grade III or $60,000 at one mile or over, 4 Lbs., two races other than maiden, claiming or starter, 6 Lbs. Starters and riders to be named through the entry box by the usual time of closing. IMPORTANT REMINDER: Certain finishing positions in this race will earn points to qualify for the 2020 Kentucky Derby, pursuant to the official rules for The Road to the Kentucky Derby published by Churchill Downs Incorporated. Nominations Closed Saturday, January 25, 2020 with 35. One And One Sixteenth Miles.

P# PP Horse Virtual
Stable
A/S Med Jockey Wgt Trainer M/L
1
1
Ajaaweed (KY)
3/C
L J Rosario
118
K P McLaughlin 4/1
2
2
Sole Volante (KY)
3/G
L L Panici
118
P L Biancone 8/1
3
3
Albert Park (KY)
3/C
L P Morales
118
M Stidham 15/1
4
4
Independence Hall (KY)
3/C
L J L Ortiz
122
M J Trombetta 6/5
5
5
No Getting Over Me (FL)
3/G
L S Camacho
118
G S Bennett 20/1
6
6
Premier Star (KY)
3/C
L J R Velazquez
118
J Navarro 3/1
7
7
Tiz Rye Time (KY)
3/C
L J R Leparoux
118
I R Wilkes 20/1
8
8
Chapalu (KY)
3/C
L D Centeno
122
A Delacour 8/1

Owners: 1 – Shadwell Stable ; 2 – Reeves Thoroughbred Racing, Andie Biancone and Limelight Stables Corp. ; 3 – Godolphin, LLC ; 4 – Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creeks Racing Stables, LLC, Kathleen and Robert N. Verratti ; 5 – Abdullah Saeed Almaddah ; 6 – Sonata Stable ; 7 –Bourbon Lane Stable, Cleber J. Massey and Jim Gladden ; 8 – Beverly S. Anderson and Edward A. Seltzer

Breeders: 1 – Shadwell Farm, LLC.; 2 – Flaxman Holdings Limited; 3 – Godolphin; 4 – Woodford Thoroughbreds; 5 – Richard E. Wilson; 6 – Charles H. Deters; 7 – Sierra Farm; 8 – Edward A. Seltzer & Beverly Anderson

Pedigrees (Sire – Dam, by Dam Sire): 1 – Curlin Asiya , by Daaher ; 2 – Karakontie (JPN) Light Blow , by Kingmambo ; 3 – Street Sense Indy Five Hundred , by A.P. Indy ; 4 – Constitution Kalahari Cat , by Cape Town ; 5 – He’s Had Enough Lady Cheryl , by Williamstown ; 6 – Tapiture Letthetigerparty , by Hold That Tiger ; 7 – Tiznow Shanon Nicole , by Majestic Warrior ; 8 – Flatter Panther Strike , by Black Minnaloushe ;