Todd Pletcher had to alter course when Grade 1 winner Locked was forced to bypass Saturday’s $250,000 Sam F. Davis (G3) due to a fever, substituting Grade 2 turf winner Agate Road and last-out maiden scorer Tireless in his place. A total of 12 sophomores are entered for the Road to the Kentucky Derby series event, the first of two qualifiers at Tampa Bay Downs this year, and the $150,000 Suncoast S. serves as Kentucky Oaks counterpart earlier on the 11-race program.
Both races offer points on a 20-10-6-4-2 basis.
Winner of the Pilgrim (G2) and a closing fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), Agate Beach will switch back to the main track after a runner-up in the Dania Beach S. at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 6. Jose Ortiz takes the assignment on the late-running son of Quality Road. Tireless, a son of Not This Time, made his seasonal debut a winning one at Tampa Bay on Jan. 24, graduating in his fourth start, and Antonio Gallardo picks up the mount for his stakes debut.
Change of Command, a $1.05 million Into Mischief colt trained by Shug McGaughey, will add blinkers and try stakes competition following a pair of wins at Gulfstream. A maiden winner two back, Change of Command stretched to two turns with a front-running triumph over entry-level allowance foes on Jan. 5, and Tyler Gaffalione will guide.
Other contenders in the 1 1/16-mile race include Inaugural S. victor Patriot Spirit; Grade 3 winner West Saratoga, a non-threatening second the Jan. 13 Pasco at Tampa; juvenile stakes winner Copper Tax; and Crazy Mason and Fulmineo, the top two finishers from a recent Tampa allowance.
Demoiselle (G2) romper Life Talk highlights six fillies in the Suncoast at a mile and 40 yards. Fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) two back, the Pletcher-trained Gun Runner filly will have Jose Ortiz for her return.
Her challengers include Power Squeeze, a flashy five-length winner of the Cash Run S. on New Year’s Day at Gulfstream; last-out Tampa maiden winner Whocouldaskformo, who will try stakes company for McGaughey; and Gasparilla runner-up Gorgeous Girl.