A son of Giant’s Causeway, Eskendereya romped home an 8 ½ lengths winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last out on Feb. 20 over the track and 1 1/8 miles distance of the Florida Derby and will likely be a heavy favorite for the 59th edition of Gulfstream’s historic Kentucky Derby (G1) preview.
Four other probable/possible Florida Derby starters worked over the Gulfstream track Sunday morning with Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince timed a ‘bullet’ five-eighths in 59 1/5 for trainer Wesley Ward. The son of Indy King finished fourth last out in the Fountain of Youth, beaten 10 ¼ lengths by Eskendereya.
“I was really excited going into the race (Fountain of Youth),” said Ward Friday afternoon. “The horse was training great. I’ve always felt since we bought the horse that he was going to be something special, and I think he’s starting to emerge into what his potential is. Hopefully, he is one that is a late developer and will come around quickly to get us the big one (Florida Derby).”
Donald Dizney’s Florida homebred First Dude worked five furlongs in 1:02 for trainer Dale Romans as he prepares to make his stakes debut in the Florida Derby. The son of Stephen Got Even finished second in two starts in Kentucky last year, broke his maiden going a mile here on Jan. 30 in his 3-year-old debut and finished a game second in a 1 1/8 miles allowance race last out on Feb. 21.
Two others on the ‘possible’ Florida Derby list working at Gulfstream Sunday morning were Gainesway Stable’s Tempted to Tapit, five furlongs in 59 4/5 for trainer Steve Klesaris; and Michael Imperio and Kona Stable’s filly Christine Daae, six furlongs in 1:11 flat for trainer Patrick Biancone.
Tempted to Tapit finished second to Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds last out on Feb. 20 shipping in from Klesaris’ Gulfstream barn. His connections are weighing whether to run the roan/gray Tapit gelding here Saturday in the Florida Derby or return to New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby (G2) a week later on Mar. 27.
Biancone plans to run Flying Zee Stable and Kona Stable’s Pulsion in the Florida Derby after the son of Include finished sixth with trouble in the Fountain of Youth and has also nominted Christine Daae to the Florida Derby as well as the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (G2) over the track and distance earlier on the card.
A chestnut daughter of Giant’s Causeway, Christine Daae has won both of her starts at the meet after a fourth-place career debut last summer at Hollywood Park. She broke her maiden by 8 ¾ lengths here going seven furlongs on Jan. 15 and came back to score by 2 ¾ lengths going 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 28.
Presious Passion Drills for Dubai to Trip
Patricia Generazio’s charismatic 7-year-old gelding Presious Passion, who scored a repeat victory in the Mac Diasrmida Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 28 for trainer Mary Hartmann, worked an easy mile in 1:44 at Gulfstream Sunday morning as he gets ready for his trip to Dubai for a start in the $5 million Sheema Classic (G1) to be run at 1 ½ miles on turf on the Dubai World Cup card, Sat., Mar. 27.
Presious Passion is among five South Florida-based stakes stars expected to board a plane on Wednesday to contest the rich races on Dubai World Cup Day, including two others that ran in stakes here earlier in the meet.
Pam and Marty Wygod’s 4-year-old homebred colt Courageous Cat was a game winner of the Canadian Turf Stakes (G3) on Feb. 20 making his first start since a close-up second-place finish behind champion filly Goldikova in the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7 for trainer Bill Mott. The son of Storm Cat will run in the $5 million Dubai Duty Free Stakes (G1) going 1 1/8 miles on turf.
Starlight Partners’ 4-year-old Take the Points finished first in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 6 for trainer Todd Pletcher, although disqualified to 5th for interference in the stretch. The roan/gray son of Even the Score breezed five furlongs in 1:02 4/5 Sunday morning at Palm Meadows and set to contest the $10 million World Cup at 1 ¼ miles over the Tapeta synthetic surface at the new Meydan Race Course.
Another World Cup invitee is Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s 5-year-old gelding Furthest Land, who worked six furlongs in 1:13 4/5 at Gulfstream Sunday morning for trainer Mike Maker. Winner of the Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (G1) at Santa Anita on Nov. 7, the son of Smart Strike finished a close-up fifth last out in the San Antonio Handicap (G2) at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 behind World Cup contender Richard’s Kid.
The likely favorite for the World Cup is Castleton Lyons 5-year-old Gio Ponti, double Eclipse winner and Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) runner-up in 2009, who is preparing for his trip at trainer Christophe Clement’s Payson Park winter quarters.
The Classic, along with the supporting stakes races on the World Cup card, will be simulcast live at Gulfstream Park as part of a special Saturday morning program beginning at 9am.