Fierce Wind holds off Big Truck to take the Sam F. Davis.

Fierce Wind holds off Big Truck to take the Sam F. Davis.

Tom Cooley

Fierce Wind Flies to Sam Davis Win

The Nick Zito trainee won his stakes debut Feb. 16 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Fierce Wind, making his stakes debut, rated nicely in the backstretch, took the lead as they straightened away, and held off two rivals in the final yards to take the $200,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes by a half-length Feb. 16 at Tampa Bay Downs.

Running for Four Roses Thoroughbreds, Fierce Wind won his third consecutive start and immediately threw his name into the hat as a potential Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) challenger. The Dixie Union colt is yet another promising 3-year-old in the powerful barn of Hall of Fame trainer Nick Zito, who also conditions, among others, War Pass.

Finishing second was Eric Fein’s Big Truck, who made a big move around the final turn to challenge from the outside. Hutcheson (gr. II) winner Smooth Air, making a strong run on the rail, was another three-quarters back in third.

The final time for 1 1/16-miles was 1:44.13, just under a second slower than when Street Sense set the track and race record last year.

Honey Honey Honey set the pace through a half-mile, posting fractions of :23.84 and :48.18, while 7-5 favorite Z Humor, Wise Answer, and Fierce Wind chased the leader. As they began to leave the second turn, Fierce Wind, under Cornelio Velasquez, made a four-wide bid, drawing even with Z Humor, who had assumed the lead after Honey Honey Honey began to drop out.

By the time the field of eight reached the top of the stretch, Fierce Wind had taken the lead by more than a length, while Z Humor, already under the whip, showed signs of tiring. Although drifting out a bit in the final furlong, Fierce Wind held a steady lead until strong final bids from Big Truck and Smooth Air.

Out of the A.P. Indy mare Post Parade, Fierce Wind was bred in Kentucky by Will Farish, Hilbert Thoroughbreds, and Menard Thoroughbreds. He was bought at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-Year-Olds in training sale for $300,000.

Prior to the Sam Davis, Fierce Wind broke his maiden at Calder Race Course by more than 10 lengths Dec. 16, then won by 5 ¼ lengths in a 1 1/8-mile allowance event during his 3-year-old debut at Gulfstream Jan. 21. Both of those scores were in front-running fashion, making this one all the more impressive.

Going off at 3-1 odds, Fierce Wind paid $8.80, $4.60, and $3.40. The exacta (4-6) was worth $74.60, while the trifecta (4-6-7) returned $348.80.

Z Humor, dead-heat winner of the Dec. 7 Delta Jackpot (gr. III) was fifth for trainer Bill Mott.

(Chart, Equibase)