STRONG GROUP ASSEMBLED FOR FLORIDA DERBY
The strongest prep on the East Coast to date will be held this Sunday in the G1 $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. A slew of heavy weights will line up in here, led by g2 Fountain of Youth victor Soldat for Kiaran McLaughlin. The son of War Front has been awesome in a pair of main-track tries over this strip, romping home in both, and could be the one to catch and beat on this occasion.
To Honor and Serve, a multiple graded winner at two, was short in the Fountain of Youth but could surely be the one in here with a better trip and slight improvement for Bill Mott. The talented son of Bernardini has very good tactical speed and should be in the mix throughout. Another son of Bernardini, Stay Thirsty, was a nice winner of the G3 Gotham Stakes in his seasonal debut and clearly rates a chance in this field for Todd Pletcher. Another main player is Dialed In for Nick Zito. This late-running son of Mineshaft could explode in the stretch on this day.
Possible is most impressive G2 Hutcheson Stakes winner Flashpoint, from the barn of Richard Dutrow. The son of Pomeroy has crushed two fields to date. Smart allowance winner Arch Traveller and Fountain of Youth fourth Bowman’s Causeway add to the depth of this field.
The G2 $150,000 Swale Stakes will also be held on Sunday, with the aforementioned Flashpoint and Hutcheson runner-up Travelin Man among the top duo. Also possible for this even-furlong dash are smart maiden winners San Pablo and Escort, Hutcheson third Little Drama, Timely Writer runner-up Rattlesnake Bridge and unbeaten Panamanian import Indiano.
A pair of Grade 3 races is also on the Florida Derby undercard, including the $100,000 Skip Away H. (G3). 2010 Belmont (G1) star Drosselmeyer, Grade 2 winner Exhi, Challenger S. winner Colizeo, Donn H. (G1) sixth Ron the Greek and Godolphin’s multiple Grade 2 winner Regal Ransom, are among the likely main threats in this test.
The $100,000 Appleton H. (G3) looks like the next stop for Grade 3 victor Nordic Truce, Canadian Turf (G3) hero Little Mike, local allowance victor Mikoshi, and Krypton, who will make his 2011 debut here for McLaughlin.
Saturday’s big event is the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) runner-up R Heat Lightning rebounded from a poor effort to romp in the Davona Dale (G2) most recently and looks to be the one to beat for conditioner Todd Pletcher. The daughter of Trippi has failed to hit the board just once in her life and is reportedly doing great leading up to this.
Also on Saturday is the $150,000 Rampart S. (G3), a nine-furlong test for fillies and mares on the main oval. Grade 2 vixen Acting Happy, Sabin H. (G3) star Awesome Maria, the lightly raced Dubai Dancer and Jimmy Toner’s Much Rejoicing, who crushed an off-the-turf allowance field last out.