Birdstone May Pass Florida Derby For Lane's End Stakes

Birdstone May Pass Florida Derby For Lane's End Stakes
Photo: Bill Denver
Birdstone, may opt for Lane's End Stakes rather than Florida Derby.
Marylou Whitney's Birdstone, winner of his 3-year-old debut in allowance company, may skip the March 13 Florida Derby and run in the following week's $500,000 Lane's End Stakes (gr. II) at Turfway Park instead, trainer Nick Zito said Monday.

If Birdstone runs in the Florida Derby, he is expected to lose the services of regular rider Jerry Bailey, who in all probability will remain on Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) winner Read the Footnotes. Zito had been hoping to replace Bailey with Birdstone's first rider, Edgar Prado, but Prado had already signed on to ride the Bobby Frankel-trained Master David, winner of the Sham Stakes.

"If we run in the Lane's End, Jerry will ride him," Zito said. "And who knows, if Jerry isn't happy with Read the Footnotes, and Birdstone turns in a big performance in the Lane's End, there's a chance we could get him for the Wood Memorial (gr. I). Also, it might be better to give the horse the five weeks now and wait for the Lane's End. That would give us three weeks to the Wood and three weeks to the (Kentucky) Derby (gr. I). He's a late foal and he's not a big horse, so we want to do the best thing for him to get him to peak on Derby Day. He needs two more two-turn races before the Derby, and this might be the best way to go. But I'll discuss all the possibilities with Marylou and (husband) John (Hendrickson) and we'll make a final decision."

Zito said Buckram Oak Farm's Eurosilver is still on target for the Swale Stakes (gr. II) on March 13, and he could run Pies Prospect in an allowance race the same day. The Cliff's Edge, who finished second at 1-2 in Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes, came out of the race in good shape, and may head to Oaklawn for the Rebel Stakes (gr. III). "He'll be OK," Zito said. "He had to run a mile and a half, circling the field and getting caught very wide. He'll improve off this race."

Birdstone has won three of his four career starts, including an authoritative victory in the Champagne Stakes (gr. I) over Chapel Royal.

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