Lansdon Robbins and partners’ 3-year-old Danger to Society continues to work toward a hoped-for rebound in a major stakes with his latest drill coming Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park.
With exercise rider/jockey Mario Madrid in the saddle, the son of Harlan’s Holiday breezed six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 in his third workout since finishing seventh in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) here Jan. 31.
Dutrow has tentatively penciled in the Wood Memorial (G1) on Sat., Apr. 4 at Aqueduct for Danger to Society’s next start with the March 28, $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) an option, depending on the strength of the field.
“We’re looking at the Wood because the Florida Derby looks like it’s coming up really tough,” said Dutrow. “If some of the major players in there were to fall out we’d be ready to go.”
Dutrow trained IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr.’s Big Brown to win the 2008 Florida Derby on the way to victories in the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs and Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico.
Strong Work, Extra Distance Should Help Lime Rickey in Palm Beach
After two runner-up finishes in turf stakes for 3-year-olds this winter, Dogwood Stable’s Lime Rickey continues to work toward a hoped-for return to the winner’s circle in the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) next Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Frank Alexander sent the son of Lemon Drop Kid five furlongs on the Gulfstream main track Saturday morning in 1:02 1/5 and the veteran conditioner was impressed.
“I actually think he worked even better than the clockers caught him,” said Alexander. “A second isn’t that big a deal compared to the fact that he looked very good, worked well and came back good.”
Regardless of the exact time, Alexander is eager to send Lime Rickey the 1 1/8 miles of the Palm Beach after coming within a half-length of beating Jack Spratt in the Dania Beach Stakes on Jan. 17 and 1¼ lengths short of Duke of Homberg in the Hallandale Beach Stakes on Feb. 14. Traffic hindered Lime Rickey from making his best run in both races.
“I don’t think he got too bad a trip in his last race,” said Alexander. “I think the horse who won just got the jump on us while we waited for room. The extra distance should help us.”
Alexander is also eager to get another crack at Duke of Homberg, who, according to the trainer, showed some vulnerability.
“We made a pretty good run and almost got there,” said Alexander. “The winner was drifting somewhat. The trip will be everything again, but he’s doing very well and that’s all we can ask.”
Albertus Maximus Fires Another ‘Bullet’ Ahead of Dubai Trip
Donn Handicap (G1) champion Albertus Maximus continues to solidify his status as America’s leading hope for the $6 million Dubai World Cup (G1) on Sat., Mar. 28 with a ‘bullet’ workout Saturday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center.
The 5-year-old Shadwell Stable color-bearer posted the only sub-one minute five-furlong drill of the morning of 31 workers, stopping the official watches in 59.
The son of Albert the Great will have one more workout next Saturday before flying to Dubai where he could give Sheikh Hamdan al Maktoum and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin their second victory in the world’s richest race after scoring with Invasor in 2007.
“He’s fabulous right now and is a really neat horse,” said McLaughlin Saturday morning shortly after the workout.
Albertus Maximus won the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile at Santa Anita in October over the Pro-Ride surface in a performance that proved how talented the colt was over artificial main tracks.
Sheikh Hamdan purchased Albertus Maximus privately shortly after the Breeders’ Cup and sent him to McLaughlin, gambling the horse could adjust to the real dirt in Florida and Dubai. It is a gamble that paid off handsomely with his half-length win in the Donn here on Jan. 31.
“We haven’t had to do anything differently to get him ready for the dirt,” said McLaughlin. “We just trained him over it and hoped he liked it as much as the synthetics. He’s just a really classy and smart horse and has done every thing right.”
McLaughlin and Sheikh Hamdan are in no hurry to get the horse to Dubai, preferring to stick with a proven winning plan despite the schedule last year when 2007 Horse of the Year Curlin trained and won a prep race at Nad al Sheba winning the World Cup.
The flight for Albertus Maximus, Kip Deville, Anak Nakal and some other American-trained stakes runners invited to run in stakes on World Cup day is scheduled for Tues., Mar. 17.
“Sheikh Hamdan always wants us to get there two weeks before,” said McLaughlin. “He likes us to get in, race and get out as soon as we can. Even though Curlin got there early last year, I think Curlin could have come in the day before and won the World Cup because he was such a great horse. We’re going to work again next week and then head over.”
McPeek Fillies Flex Their Muscles
Gulfstream Park’s leading trainer Ken McPeek was busy sending his charges through workouts both at the Hallandale Beach track and at Palm Meadows Training Center in Boynton Beach.
Livin the Dream Racing’s 3-year-old filly Dream Empress is expected to take to the turf in next Sunday’s $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) here and breezed a half-mile 49 2/5 at Palm Meadows.
A daughter of Bernstein, Dream Empress won the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland last October, finished second to Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 24 and has been on the shelf since a fourth-place finish in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.
Stevestan Stables’ 3-year-old Striking Dancer is coming off a turf allowance race victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 25 and was second in the Caressing Handicap on grass at Churchill on Nov. 29.
A daughter of Smart Strike, Striking Dancer is expected to switch to the main track for the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2) here on Fri., Mar. 27 and breezed a half-mile on the main track at Palm Meadows Saturday in 49.25.
While McPeek oversaw the Palm Meadows string Saturday morning, his Gulfstream team sent Michael and Lenora Paulson’s Our Dahlia a half-mile in 48 1/5 in preparation for a trip to New Orleans for next Saturday’s $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
McPeek has been busy on both the male and female sides of the 3-year-old divisions this winter, notably with Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) runner-up Theregoesjojo, owned by a partnership led by Samotowka Stables.
McPeek was the first trainer to register 20 victories at the Gulfstream meet and hesays he hasn’t varied his approach too much with his fillies or colts this season.
“It always depends on the individual horse,” McPeek said. “For the most part we take a little lighter approach with the fillies, but several of these gals can really handle the training just as hard as the colts.
“Dream Empress and Striking Dancer were a little behind because we gave them some time off in December, but they’ve been able to handle getting up to speed here. It’s still about timing and we still have plenty of time.”
Keep the Peace Drills for Inside Information
Gary and Mary West’s 4-year-old filly Keep the Peace worked a sharp five furlongs in 1:00 2/5 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Eddie Kenneally in preparation for her second start of the season in next Sunday’s $150,000 Inside Information Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
“She worked good and ran a big race to win coming back,” said Kenneally, referring to the Touch Gold filly’s impressive victory winning a six-furlong allowance by 2 ½ lengths on Feb. 21 in her first start since late May. “We know its going to be a tough race if Any Limit and Game Face are in there.”
The trainer is referring to Joseph V. Shields Jr.’s 6-year-old mare Any Limit and Zabeel Racing International’s 4-year-old filly Game Face, who have traded places finishing first and second in the two previous Graded stakes for filly and mare sprinters at the meet – Game Face taking the First Lady Stakes (G3) in January and Any Limit the Hurricane Bertie Stakes (G3) last out on Feb. 15.
A major goal for Keep the Peace this season is to win a Graded stakes after a very good, but frustrating 3-year-old campaign last year that included three runner-up performances in Graded stakes at Gulfstream and Churchill Downs and good try finishing fourth in the Beaumont (G2) at Keeneland.
Keep the Peace lost a nose decision in the Forward Gal Stakes (G2) here in early February after winning her first two career starts, and completed the season finishing second by a neck in the La Troienne Stakes (G3) at Churchill Downs during Derby weekend. She finished a close-up second again by a half-length in the Dogwood Stakes (G3) there on May 31.
Kenneally will have a busy weekend as he travels to Tampa Bay Downs Saturday to run Ron McCauley and Colin Purcell’s 6-year-old mare Ballymore Lady in the $175,000 Hillsborough Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles on turf on the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) undercard.
A daughter of War Chant, Ballymore Lady breezed an easy half-mile in 50 flat Saturday morning at Palm Meadows. She won the $125,000 Endeavor Stakes (G3) over the Tampa Bay course on Feb. 14 after a close-up fourth-place finish in the Marshua’s River Stakes at Gulfstream on Jan. 11.
Desormeaux & Leparoux Tied in Gulfstream Jockey Title Chase
Jockey Kent Desormeaux rode Magdalena Racing and partners’ 4-year-old Argentine-bred Sudden War to victory in the seventh race allowance going 1½ miles on turf Friday at Gulfstream Park to draw back into a tie for the lead in the standings with Julien Leparoux with 37 wins apiece.
Leparoux took off his mounts Friday feeling ill, but flew to California for the mount on Midnight Cry Stable’s 7-year-old Einstein in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap (G1) Saturday for Gulfstream-based trainer Helen Pitts-Blasi. The son of Spend a Buck finished third last out behind Albertus Maximus in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (G1) here on Jan. 31.
Alan Garcia ranks third in the competitive race for leading rider honors here this season, just two behind the leaders at 34 wins. Garcia has been out of town this week, riding in Dubai Thursday and at Aqueduct today for the mount on West Point Thoroughbreds’ Mr. Fantasy in the $150,000 Gotham Stakes (G2). Garcia will be back in action at Gulfstream Sunday.
Two-time Gulfstream meet leader John R.Velazquez sits fourth in the standings with 33 tallies, followed by Eibar Coa, Edgar Prado and Jose Lezcano in a three-way tie for fifth with 29 each. Cornelio Velasquez is eighth with 28 and Elvis Trujillo ninth with 27.
Velazquez is also at Santa Anita Saturday to ride Robert and Janis McNair’s Cowboy Cal in the Santa Anita Handicap for trainer Todd Pletcher. He will remain there Sunday to accept the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Award.
Prado was scheduled to make the trip but he, too, fell ill and didn’t make the flight.
Desormeaux’s victory aboard Sudden War was for major client Ken McPeek, who continues to lead the trainer standings after sending out 21 winners, but Pletcher responded with two wins Friday to close within three of the lead as he bids for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream championship.
Following McPeek and Pletcher on the leader board are Nick Zito third with 14, nine-time Gulfstream titlist Bill Mott and Peter Walder tied for fourth with 11 each and Kiaran McLaughlin, Eddie Plesa Jr. and Wesley Ward in a three-way tie for sixth with 10 apiece.