Dunkirk Drills at Palm Meadows Saturday Morning

Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor and Derrick Smith’s 3-year-old Dunkirk, runner-up in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Mar. 28, worked a solid five furlongs in 59:90 Saturday morning at Palm Meadows as he continues his preparation for the Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on Sat., May 2.

Trained by Todd Pletcher, the roan/gray son of Unbridled’s Song appears almost certain to be assured a berth in the Kentucky Derby field limited to 20 based on graded-stakes earnings with $150,000 after several defections announced this week.
A $3.7 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, Dunkirk won his first two career starts earlier in the Gulfstream meet and was the 11-10 favorite for the Florida Derby, finishing 1¾ lengths behind Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road.

While Pletcher chose to keep Dunkirk at Palm Meadows to continue his preparation for the Derby, trainer Jimmy Jerkens shipped Quality Road out of Palm Meadows to Belmont Park where the Virginia homebred son of Elusive Quality worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 Friday morning over the Belmont training track.

Pletcher & McPeek Tied in Gulfstream Standings

Trainers Todd Pletcher and Ken McPeek have traded places on the lead in the Gulfstream Park standings several times over the last couple of weeks and will go into Saturday’s program tied with 32 wins apiece and only four more days of sport until closing on Thursday.

Pletcher is bidding for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream meet championship and sent out Hard Top to win the first race Friday to gain the tie as McPeek was shut out with starters in three races and remained six short of achieving the 1,000 career victory milestone with 994.

McPeek has runners entered in three races Saturday while Pletcher has only one, both are in two races Sunday, but Pletcher will have chances in five races Wednesday and McPeek just one. Behind the top two on the leader board are Nick Zito and Wesley Ward tied for third with 21 tallies each and Peter Walder fifth with 19.

Jockey Jose Lezcano rode two more winners on Friday’s program and is virtually assured his first Gulfstream riding title with 65 victories, 17 more than closest rivals Elvis Trujillo and Kent Desormeaux tied for second with 48 apiece.