Pletcher-Trained Eel Gives Rivals the Slip in Sharp Debut Romp; Destin Breezes in Final Derby Work

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Starlight Racing’s Eel gave his rivals the slip in the stretch to register an 11 ½-length debut victory in the seventh race at Gulfstream Park, capping a most productive Saturday in South Florida for trainer Todd Pletcher.

Earlier in the day, Pletcher sent Twin Creeks Racing Stables’ Destin to the Palm Beach Downs track for his final South Florida tune-up for a scheduled start in the Kentucky Derby. The son of Giant’s Causeway was timed in 1:00 1/5 for five furlongs while working in company with Savoy Stomp (1:00 4/5), who finished fourth in the Skip Away (G3) at Gulfstream in his last start.

“He worked very well. I’m really happy with the way he’s doing,” said Pletcher prior to Eel’s impressive debut. “He put in a very solid breeze with a really good gallop out.”

Destin finished second in an optional claiming allowance at Gulfstream Park in December before finishing fourth in the LeComte (G3) at Fair Grounds and earning a Kentucky Derby berth with victories in the Sam D. Davis (G3) and Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Pletcher, who is also scheduled to saddle Wood Memorial winner Outwork for a Kentucky Derby start, said Destin would be shipped to Churchill Downs Monday.

Eel, a late-developing 3-year-old, gave leading rider Edgard Zayas his third victory of the day after leading from start to finish in the mile maiden special weight event. The son of Harlan’s Holiday was closely stalked by Blind Ruckus along the backstretch and around the final turn before responding when called upon by Zayas and drawing off to a commanding victory in 1:24.22

“He broke alertly and got to dictate the pace. He was a little green turning for home, waiting on company, but once Edgard gave him his cue, he leveled off and finished well,” said Pletcher, whose day got even better when Gulfstream Park Handicap runner-up Stanford captured the $1.5 million Charles Town Classic. (G2)

Eel was purchased for $475,000 at the 2014 Keeneland September sale.

“I think he had some baby issues. He came to us earlier in the year at Palm Beach Downs and it just took him a little time to get ready,” Pletcher said. “He’s a handy colt and hopefully we can build on this.”

In Saturday’s featured 10th race, an optional claiming allowance on turf, multiple graded-stakes winner War Dancer ($5) made a winning 2016 debut under Hall of Fame rider Edgar Prado. The Bill Mott-trained 6-year-old pressed the pace set by Chamois before edging away in the stretch to complete the 1 1/8 miles in 1:45.55. Chamois held off a late closing Morning Calm to finish second.

Sunday’s Rainbow 6 Carryover Jackpot Stands at $97,732

The 20-cent Rainbow 6 will offer a $97,732.77 carryover jackpot on Sunday’s 10-race card at Gulfstream Park.

The popular multi-race wager went unsolved for the sixth consecutive program Friday, when multiple tickets with all six winners were each worth $233.20.

The carryover jackpot is only paid out when there is a single unique ticket sold with all six winners. On days when there is no unique ticket, 70 percent of that day’s pool goes back to those bettors holding tickets with the most winners while 30 percent is carried over to the jackpot pool.

The Rainbow 6 sequence will span Races 5-10 Sunday.

First race post time for Sunday’s 10-race card is set for 12:55 p.m.

Gulfstream Park

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