Two of John Oxley’s top 3-year-old prospects worked out Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park for trainer John Ward, including Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Beethoven, and jockeys who won two of the last three editions of the Kentucky Derby (G1) rode them.
Calvin Borel, who rode Street Sense to win the 2007 Derby, shipped in to work Beethoven, going three furlongs in 36. Edgar Prado, rider of 2006 Derby winner Barbaro, was aboard Strategic Decision, a maiden out of the champion mare Beautiful Pleasure. He was timed an easy half-mile in 50 1/5.
“His goal is to make the Holy Bull (G3) and the Florida Derby,” said Ward of the Kentucky-bred son of Sky Mesa. “Where we go in between is up in the air.”
The $150,000 Holy Bull is Jan. 31 at one mile around one turn. The $750,000 Florida Derby is Mar. 28 around two turns at 1 1/8 miles. Ward’s dilemma for a February race is whether to stay at one mile for the $250,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 28 or stretch out in distance.
“We have to decide whether to go out of town for a two-turn race (in February), or maybe, even a workout here might be best for us.”
Strategic Decision, a homebred son of Distorted Humor, will try to build on a third-place finish in his debut over Polytrack at Turfway Park on Dec. 12. His regal breeding and training style lead Ward to think improvement will come quickly.
“Once he’s in a regular running routine, he’s the type of horse that will move forward,” he said. “He’s working his way into a running style and I’m sure each race he goes in will be better than his last.”
Prado was positive after the workout and his chances at the 2009 Gulfstream season.
“John is really high on him and he ran really well first time out,” said Prado. “Hopefully I get a chance to ride him when his next race comes around. It’s too early to get very excited about anyone, but I’m looking forward to many of the horses I rode in New York coming down here. Hopefully we can stay healthy, get some luck and get some big purses.”
Les Antiques Likely Choice in Wednesday Allowance Feature
Entrevaux Stables’ 4-year-old colt Les Antiques ran well in each of his four starts last year for trainer Christophe Clement, breaking his maiden at Belmont Park on June 28, and makes his season debut in Wednesday’s $42,000 allowance feature at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Javier Castellano will be aboard Les Antiques in a full field of 12 older horses going one mile on turf. The Kentucky-bred by Kingmambo was a $1.25 million Keeneland September yearling purchase who finished third in his career debut over the Gulfstream course in March and just missed when second in turf races at Keeneland and Belmont before his first win. He comes back with ‘blinkers on’ Wednesday.
Arthur Hancock III’s 4-year-old homebred Whitley will get plenty of support in Wednesday’s feature with Alan Garcia for trainer Rusty Arnold. The son of Menifee has finished on the board in all four of his outings on turf, most recently finishing third behind Prom Shoes in a Churchill Downs allowance on Nov. 28. He broke his maiden over the Saratoga course in late August.
Completing the field are Lawrence Foggle’s Edge of a Shadow, Kenneth Hoffman’s He’s the Commander, Jill Johnston’s It’s My Choice, Maybry Farm’s Rogue Victory, The Mirage Ranch’s Stormy Mirage, North Shore Racing’s Radical Sabbatical, Stronach Stable’s Soul Spirit, Hardacre Farm’s Harbor Ridge, Our Sugar Bear Stable’s Motion Play and Peter Vegso’s Hyrule.
Four others are on the ‘also-eligible’ list – Darley Stable’s Ea, Garland Williamson’s Cool Gator, Peachtree Stable’s Different Drummer and Richard Ravin’s New Believer. Ea and Cool Gator are entered for ‘main track only’ with the latter coming back for his first start since finishing fifth behind Big Brown in last year’s Florida Derby (G1).
Fort Lauderdale & Marshua’s River Stakes Next Weekend
Renewals of the $100,000 Fort Lauderdale Stakes on Saturday and $100,000 Marshua’s River Stakes on Sunday will highlight next weekend’s racing at Gulfstream Park, both races run at 1 1/16 miles on turf, the latter for fillies and mares.
The Fort Lauderdale attracted more than 40 nominations, including Peter Vegso’s Silver Tree, Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Buffalo Man and Richard Thompson’s Ballast, all graded-stakes winners.
Silver Tree is a 9-year-old homebred horse by Hennessy with career earnings of more than $1.7 million for trainer Bill Mott and a solid history over the Gulfstream course over the years with an 8-4-2-1 record. He will always be a footnote in history as Hall of Fame jockey Jerry Bailey’s last career mount, finishing second to Miesque’s Approval in the 2006 Sunshine Million Turf here.
Virginia Kraft Payson’s Grade 1 winning 5-year-old mare Rutherienne is most prominent among more than 40 fillies and mares named to the Marshua’s River. The homebred daughter of Pulpit won nine of 16 career starts, but has been stuck in a rut finishing third in each of her last five starts, although two times behind Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Turf (G1) winner Forever Together.
Trainer Bill Mott has Zayat Stable’s 4-year-old filly Mushka and 5-year-old Queen Joanne nominated for the Marshua’s River, each with solid credentials. Mushka is a daughter of Empire Maker coming off an impressive allowance victory on turf at Keeneland last out on Oct. 3. Queen Joanne is a daughter of Mr. Greeley and also won her last start in a Keeneland turf allowance.