Next Stop on Road to the Derby Pending for ‘News’

Encouraged by News Pending’s second-place finish behind Union Rags in last Sunday’s $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2), trainer Dale Romans will go shopping for a prep that will offer the son of Harlan’s Holiday the best chance of getting into the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby (G1).

“We’ll just nominate him to everything out there. The next race will be important to pick up a big chunk of change,” said Romans, whose 3-year-old colt, who pressed the pace set by favored Discreet Dancer and finished second, four lengths behind Union Rags and 2 ¼ lengths clear of the pacesetter. “It’s early. We’ll see what things look like, but the Florida Derby is definitely possible.”

The Florida Derby (G1), which will be run on March 31 and expected to attract leading Kentucky Derby candidate Union Rags, will be contested for a $1 million purse, which not only offers a $600,000 payday to the winner but also a $200,000 purse for the runner-up. Should News Pending run in the Florida Derby and finish no worse than second, he would surely have enough graded-stakes earnings, including the $80,000 he earned in the Fountain of Youth, to qualify for the Kentucky Derby field that is limited to the top 20 graded-stakes earners.

News Pending has already won at the Florida Derby’s distance of 1 1/8 miles, although that late-closing victory came over the Gulfstream turf course on Dec. 22. He followed up that maiden victory with a runner-up finish in an entry-level allowance on turf on Feb. 5. The Kentucky-bred colt had previously been nosed out of a maiden win over Belmont’s main track last October.

“We’ve always been high on him. The farther he goes the better. With a horse like him it takes longer to get him 100-percent fit,” Romans said.

Romans’ other Kentucky Derby hopeful, Dullahan, is being pointed to the $150,000 Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on turf on March 11. Dullahan, who captured the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) over Keeneland’s synthetic track, finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) on Churchill Downs’ main track.

‘Currency’ Gets Change in Plans for 2012 Debut

Although trainer Terri Pompay has nominated Currency Swap for the $150,000 Swale (G3) at Gulfstream Park on March 31, she doesn’t expect the son of High Cotton to be ready to make his 2012 debut on the Florida Derby undercard.

“I think he’s going to be a work or two short for the Swale,” Pompay said. “It would have been nice to have had more time to get him ready but the time he needed on the farm has done him well.”

Currency Swap, who was victorious in his debut at Saratoga on Aug. 6, hasn’t raced since capturing the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga on Sept. 5 in his second start. A small chip was discovered in his left front ankle while preparing for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and was surgically removed. After rehabbing at Nick de Meric’s farm in Ocala, Currency Swap joined his trainer at Gulfstream in mid-January.

“He’s coming along. He’s doing what he’s supposed to be doing. He’s only had one five-eighths work, and this week he’s going to have a five-eighths with company for the first time,” Pompay said. “It’s just the process of getting him fit. He’s a heavy, muscular horse. It’s not like he’s dragging his feet.”

Pompay is hoping to get an allowance race at Gulfstream for Currency Swap’s first start back before looking for a major Kentucky Derby prep.

“The Derby is a possibility. I’ll need to get two races before then,” she said. “If he doesn’t make it, there’s always the Preakness (G1).”

Meanwhile, Currency Swap’s stablemate Zero Rate Policy is being freshened after competing in three stakes in succession: a victory in the Sunshine State, a nose loss to A Priority in the Mr. Prospector (G3) and a fourth in the Florida Sunshine Million Sprint.

“I’m looking at the Sir Shackleton (March 31) before we head north,” Pompay said. “He runs good fresh.”

Inspired Back Home for Start in Ladies Turf Sprint

Peter Blum Thoroughbreds Kentucky homebred mare Inspired was on the road for her last start, posting a wire-to-wire victory Jan. 21 in the $75,000 Pan Zareta Stakes going five furlongs on turf at Fair Grounds. The 5-year-old will get to stay home at Gulfstream Park when she runs in Sunday’s $60,000 Ladies Turf Sprint going the same five-furlong trip over the local course.

Inspired is a chestnut daughter of Unbridled’s Song with four wins in 14 starts, including a close-up fourth-place finish behind Holiday for Kitten in a five-furlong turf allowance here on Dec. 24 when beaten two lengths for it all after setting the pace to the upper stretch. She won the $100,000 Jenny Wade Handicap sprinting on turf at Penn National in late July.

“She’ll go turf or dirt. She’s won on the main track. We’ve had better luck out of town than here, but that can turn around,” said trainer Allen Iwinski, who has only one winner but four seconds and some rough trips on others that ran well. “We’ve got some well-bred, nice young horses coming up for Mr. Blum, so there is a lot to look forward to.”

. Iwinski also campaigns a small division in the mid-Atlantic based at Parx Racing in Philadelphia and shipped Blum’s 6-year-old Kentucky homebred mare Magical Feeling from there to Laurel Park on Feb. 18, posting a 27-to-1 upset in the $200,000 Barbara Fritchie Handicap (G2). The daughter of Empire Maker has won 11 of 19 career starts and more than $400,000.