Kentucky Derby

Florida Derby Contenders Put in Final Works Saturday

Leslie Martin/Coglianese Photo

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Peacock Racing Stables’ multiple graded stakes winner Gunnevera put in his final breeze Saturday in preparation for the Grade 1, $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby on April 1 at Gulfstream Park.

Jockey Leonel Reyes replaced regular exercise partner Edgard Zayas, who was in Dubai riding Sharp Azteca in the Godolphin Mile, for the five-furlong work that went in 1:01.80 over the Gulfstream Park West main track.

The time ranked seventh of 20 horses and was notably quicker than Gunnevera’s penultimate breeze on March 18 that went in 1:04.60.  Trainer Antonio Sano said that the sophomore son of 2011 Florida Derby winner Dialed In galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.

“It was very good for me.  The jockey did exactly as I asked him and it went perfect,” Sano said.  “He was very calm on my horse.  The last two furlongs, I got him in :10 4/5, and the gallop out was very good.  Last week, the horse worked very slow.  He is ready for the race.  He didn’t need more for the Florida Derby, so I breezed him looking ahead to the next one.”

Winner of the Grade 2 Saratoga Special and the Grade 3, $1 million Delta Jackpot at age 2, along with the Grade 2 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth on March 4 at Gulfstream, Gunnevera leads all 3-year-olds with 64 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.

Regular rider Javier Castellano, who won the 2014 Florida Derby with Constitution, will be back in the irons.

First run in 1952, the Florida Derby has produced 43 starters that have gone on to win a remarkable 58 Triple Crown events, including last year’s winner, Nyquist, who captured the Kentucky Derby in his subsequent start.

“It’s exciting, and it’s pressure,” Sano said.  “More people come by the barn for the horse.  The owners call me every day.  I think it’s normal.  I feel that my horse is a good horse.”

At Gulfstream Park, multiple stakes winner Three Rules and recent allowance winner Impressive Edge each worked Saturday for the Florida Derby.

Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Tom Fitzgerald, and Geoff Roy’s Three Rules was sharp in his only work for the Derby, going five furlongs in 1:00.50, the fastest of 24 horses over a main track which received some overnight rain.

“It put a little moisture in the track and that’s really good for him.  He’s fit and ready,” trainer Jose Pinchin said.  “He went five-eighths this morning and galloped out good.  Everything went perfect.  It couldn’t have been a better work.”

Three Rules, who swept the Florida Sire Stakes for 2-year-olds as part of a five-race win streak to open his career, most recently finished third after setting the pace in the Fountain of Youth, a half-length behind runner-up Practical Joke, a two-time Grade 1 winner.  Luis Saez, aboard for the first time in the Fountain of Youth, will ride back in the Florida Derby.

“Looking back on it, it was a hell of a good performance,” Pinchin said.  “He got pressured from the go by Irish War Cry, and then [Practical Joke] took him on real early and didn’t really give him a chance, but he ran real good.  I thought it was a very good race.”

N and K Racing’s Impressive Edge, a two-time winner at the Championship Meet, breezed five furlongs in 1:01.87 at Gulfstream in preparation for a planned start in the Florida Derby.  The Dale Romans-trained colt galloped out strongly under exercise rider Faustino Aguilar.

Impressive Edge took to the track shortly after the completion of his stablemate J Boys Echo‘s five-furlong workout in 1:02.89 under Tammy Fox.

“They both worked good.  They’re totally different horses – one worked fast, the other worked slow.  But we know they can both run, and they’re both fit and ready to roll,” said Romans, who is planning to run J Boys Echo in the Grade 2 Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 8.

Impressive Edge, who raced twice at Saratoga and Churchill Downs for trainer Steve Asmussen last summer, has captured two of three starts for Romans at Gulfstream.  After breaking his maiden in a six-furlong maiden event by 4 3/4 lengths on January 15, he finished fourth in his stakes debut in the seven-furlong, Grade 2 Swale on February 4, then won a first-level allowance at seven furlongs by 8 lengths.

“He’s done well.  He was the type of horse that wasn’t quite ready to win.  He came to us in good shape.  We got him and we didn’t need to do much with him,” Romans said.

Corey Lanerie, who was aboard Impressive Edge for the first time for his impressive allowance win, has the mount for the Florida Derby.

Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence’s Practical Joke worked in company with last year’s Grade 3 Gotham winner Shagaf shortly after 7:30 at Palm Meadows Training Center.  The Chad Brown-trained pair went five furlongs in 1:00.90, with two-time Grade 1 winner Practical Joke working on the inside.

Shortly after the work, Brown said Practical Joke is “probable” for the Florida Derby, but he did not offer a full commitment to run the colt, who was making his first start of the year when he finished second, beaten 5 3/4 lengths by probable Florida Derby favorite, Gunnevera, in the Fountain of Youth.

“I want to speak to the owners and come up with a final decision, weigh our options,” said Brown, who remarked that he was pleased with Practical Joke’s move Saturday morning.  “It’s probable I will run, but it’s not certain.  We’ll see how the horse comes out of his work.  The other idea is maybe running in the Blue Grass.”

If Practical Joke runs in the Florida Derby, he will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who was aboard the 3-year-old son of Into Mischief in the Fountain of Youth.

Conrad Farms’ homebred State of Honor, who has been knocking on the door in several 3-year-old preps, worked solo, going four furlongs in 48.30.

Source: Gulfstream Park

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