Cool Coal Man & Dream Empress Prominent on Busy Palm Meadows Tab

Robert LaPenta’s 4-year-old Cool Coal Man, winner of last year’s renewal of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) for trainer Nick Zito, breezed a half-mile in 49 flat Saturday morning as he prepares for his second start this season following a sharp allowance victory here going 6 ½ furlongs on Jan. 28.

The son of Mineshaft went on to finish 15th behind Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby (G1) and third behind that rival in the Haskell Invitational (G1) at Monmouth Park. Cool Coal Man is targeted for the one-mile, $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) to be run Sat., Mar. 14.

Also notable on the busy Saturday morning tab at Palm Meadows and pointing for an upcoming graded-stakes here was Livin the Dream Stable’s 3-year-old filly Dream Empress, timed five furlongs in 1:00:85 for trainer Ken McPeek . Her seasonal debut is expected to come in the $150,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) on Sun., Mar. 15.

A daughter of Bernstein, Dream Empress won the Alcibiades Stakes (G1) at Keeneland in her third career start last year before a strong runner-up finish behind Eclipse champion Stardom Bound in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) at Santa Anita on Oct. 24. Dream Empress ran once more as a 2-year-old finishing a disappointing fourth as the favorite in the Golden Rod Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 29.

Desormeaux & McPeek Maintain Leads in Gulfstream Standings

Jockey Kent Desormeaux has ridden first call for trainer Ken McPeek consistently throughout the Gulfstream Park meet and their winning combination has each of them atop the leader board going into Saturday’s outstanding program. The two will team again in three races, including with Samotowka Stable’s 3-year-old Theregoesjojo in the $250,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

Desormeaux, elected to the Hall of Fame in 2004, is riding full-time at Gulfstream for the second season after first establishing his career on the Maryland circuit prior to a long run as one of the top riders based in Southern California. He finished the 2008 Gulfstream meet in a tie for fifth as Eibar Coa captured the title.

Highlights of his career include three Eclipse Awards, the first as an apprentice in 1987, and winning the Kentucky Derby (G1) three times—Real Quiet (1998), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000) and last year aboard Big Brown after they teamed up here to win the Florida Derby (G1) five weeks earlier.

A native of Maurice, La., Desormeaux celebrated his 39th birthday Friday with one winner, trained by McPeek, and ran his total for the session to 35, two more than Gulfstream newcomer Julien Leparoux.

Alan Garcia is another first-time regular here and ranks third with 30 victories, followed by Edgar Prado fourth at 28, Eibar Coa and Jose Lezcano tied for fifth with 27 each, Cornelio Velasquez seventh with 26 and John Velazquez, a two-time leading Gulfstream jockey, next in this very competitive field eighth with 25 wins.

Coa was the riding star on Friday’s card with three winners as he stays within striking distance and a chance for a third Gulfstream championship after his first in 2003 and second last winter when he rode 76 winners, four more than Velazquez.

McPeek sent out Mr. Dr. Professor to win the second race with Desormeaux aboard, posting his19th score of the meet, seven more than closest rival Todd Pletcher second with 12. Pletcher is bidding for a sixth consecutive Gulfstream meet title. Nine-time Gulfstream leader Bill Mott ranks in a three-way tie for third at 10 each with Nick Zito and Peter Walder.

Patena Clearing ‘Issues’ on Way to Louisiana Derby

IEAH Stables’ 3-year-old colt Patena passed an important test Saturday morning with an easy six-furlong workout at Gulfstream Park that will keep him on the path to starting in the $600,000 Louisiana Derby (G2) on Sat., Mar. 14 at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The son of Seeking the Gold has been in training with trainer Rick Dutrow at Gulfstream Park since January following a private purchase by the same connections who brought you last year’s Florida Derby (G1), Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Big Brown.

Dutrow says he has been working Patena through different ailments since receiving the winner of Woodbine’s Display Stakes last December and the runner-up in the Fair Grounds’ Lecomte Stakes (G3) in his last start on Jan. 10 into his barn.

“When we got him here we wanted to go to work on some hind-end issues and try to help him put some weight on,” said Dutrow Saturday morning. “He had been coughing for about 10 days. Today was the first day he scoped completely clean. We’ve been clearing different issues, and it seems to all be coming together.”

Exercise rider/jockey Mario Madrid was aboard for the breeze which Gulfstream clockers caught in 1:15 3/5.

“Mario told me that he pulled him to every pole this morning,” said Dutrow. “He was very happy with him. We’ve got one more breeze to go here and then we will fly to New Orleans on the 12th. I’m under the impression we are right on target.”

Dutrow started his Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) morning before the sun was up in order to send Paul Pompa Jr. and partners’ This Ones for Phil for a blowout through the stretch ahead of his highly-anticipated run in Saturday’s one-mile 3-year-old test.

“I got him out there before anybody could see him,” said Dutrow. “He’s great.”

Dutrow expects jockey Edgar Prado and This Ones for Phil to get a great trip just off the expected fast pace of the Fountain of Youth.

When asked if the gelded son of Untuttable could be keyed up early by stretching out from his victory in the six-furlong Sunshine Millions Dash last time out, Dutrow points to the rapport between horse and rider and smiles.

“Edgar gets on him and it looks like they are best friends,” he said. “I can’t see them getting in any arguments now.”