Theregoesjojo Drills for Florida Derby at Gulfstream

Trainer Ken McPeek had scheduled a final major workout yesterday for Samotowka Stables and partners’ 3-year-old Theregoesjojo ahead of next Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park yesterday, but postponed it because of ‘sloppy’ track conditions.

After day-long rain on Saturday, the Gulfstream surface remained ‘sloppy’ with ‘dogs’ up protecting the inside rail Sunday morning, but McPeek gave the go ahead for ‘Jojo’ to work at about 7:30 a.m. and the son of Brahms was timed six furlongs in 1:15 1/5. Clockers caught him in fractions along the way of 25 2/5, 37 4/5, 1:03 and galloping out seven furlongs in 1:30.

“I don’t normally like to work horses on a muddy track, but this went well,” said McPeek later in the morning. “He got what he needed and came out of it just fine. He’s all done up and put away.”

In two starts here this meet, Theregoesjojo and Quality Road finished one-two, trading decisions: ‘Jojo’ took Round One in a seven-furlong allowance on Jan. 10 and Quality Road scored by 4¾ lengths in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) going one mile on Feb. 28.

The ‘Rubber Match’ comes Saturday when they face off for a third time in a field also expected to include Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s Dunkirk, John Oxley’s Beethoven, Korina Stable’s Sincero, New Life Stable and Equus Racing’s Stately Character and one of several nominees trained by Nick Zito.

While Theregoesjojo came through his workout Sunday morning in good order, Stevestan Stable’s 3-year-old filly Striking Dancer, a stablemate in the McPeek barn that was to have run in Friday’s $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2), will miss the race.

“She came out of her workout last week with a small issue and will have to pass on the Bonnie Miss,” reported McPeek. The chestnut daughter of Smart Strike was very impressive winning a turf allowance on Feb. 25 in her season debut. She worked five furlongs in 1:01 1/5 at Palm Meadows on Mar. 13.

Three-Way Tie for Lead in Gulfstream Jockey Standings

With jockeys Kent Desormeaux and Julien Leparoux out of town Saturday for mounts in the $500,000 Lane’s End Stakes (G2) at Turfway Park, John R. Velazquez and Jose Lezcano each won two races at Gulfstream Park, leaving a logjam at the top of the leader board going into Sunday’s program.

Desormeaux, Velazquez and Lezcano are locked in a three-way tie for the lead with 41 victories apiece, one more than Leparoux at 40 and two more than Alan Garcia fifth with 39. The trip to Kentucky was worthwhile for Desormeaux as he rode WinStar Farm’s Hold Me Back to a mild upset victory in the Lane’s End for trainer Bill Mott.

Going into Saturday’s Gulfstream card, trainer Ken McPeek led the standings by one over Todd Pletcher. McPeek had one winner Saturday and Pletcher had two winners to leave the tally 25-24. Pletcher is bidding for a sixth straight Gulfstream meet championship. Nick Zito ranks third after sending out 18 winners, followed by Peter Walder fourth with 14 and Wesley Ward fifth at 13.