Top Contenders Work For Florida Derby

Top Contenders Work For Florida Derby
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Undefeated Dunkirk will run next in the Florida Derby.
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(From Gulfstream Park)

Undefeated Dunkirk  , the 2-for-2 contender for the Coolmore partnership of Susan Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor, posted his latest workout March 14 at Palm Meadows Training Center as trainer Todd Pletcher prepares him for his first career stakes attempt in the $750,000 Florida Derby (gr. I) on March 28 at Gulfstream Park.
The 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song breezed five furlongs in 1:01 2/5 under exercise rider Patti Barry. Pletcher caught the colt’s last quarter-mile in 23 4/5.
His owners paid $3.7 million for Dunkirk at the Keeneland September yearling sale in 2007 and so far, the colt has been very impressive in maiden and allowance-race victories Jan. 24 and Feb. 19 respectively.
The two performances have been enough to make Dunkirk co-favored in the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) future wager’s Pool 2 going into a major weekend of prep races.
“I guess it looks like the public has the same opinion of this horse that we do,” said Pletcher. “He’s been very impressive in his two starts and he has the pedigree to go along with the ability that he’s shown.”
Pletcher indicated Dunkirk’s next two weeks ahead of the Florida Derby would be “straightforward” with a final breezing workout slated for next Saturday, weather permitting.
Samotowka Stables and partners’ Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Theregoesjojo displayed what is becoming a trademark quick turn of foot in his latest workout March 14 at Gulfstream.
The 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Brahms coasted through most of his five-furlong drill under exercise rider Amanda Tamburello in company with maiden Glitterman’s Cartel until the eighth-pole. That’s when Tamburello asked Theregoesjojo for his move. He responded by drawing away from his workmate in a matter of a few strides, crossing the finish line in 1:01 4/5.
Trainer Ken McPeek, in New Orleans to saddle Silver Wing Stable’s Free Country in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) at the Fair Grounds, received updates by phone from assistant trainer Billy Wright and declared himself satisfied with the way the colt worked. Wright said he clocked Theregoesjojo’s final eighth in :11 3/5.
Theregoesjojo has a seven-furlong allowance race victory on his resume from earlier this meet when he defeated Quality Road   by 2 3/4 lengths Jan. 10. The two reversed that exacta in the Fountain of Youth, with Quality Road scoring by 4 1/4 lengths in the one-mile rematch. Both are expected back for the Florida Derby.
John Oxley’s leading 3-year-old contender Beethoven is getting stronger each day and displayed some of that March 14 at Gulfstream Park with a five-furlong workout.           
“He looks like Sylvester Stallone,” said trainer John Ward. “He is really muscling up right now.”
 Ward sent the Kentucky-bred son of Sky Mesa   into the drill looking for some of that strength, but also some controllability. After a jog, he then galloping once around Gulfstream’s 1 1/8 miles main track with Graded stakes-placed Dr. Pleasure acting something like a pony, exercise rider Bulent Muhcu shook Beethoven into action and they cruised through steady fractions to an official clocking of :59 4/5.
Ward caught the seven-furlong gallop out in 1:27, but said he told Muhcu by radio to back off the colt through the stretch.
Beethoven was very nervous in the paddock before his most recent start when third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and developed a considerable sweat ahead of that race. He was sweaty again Saturday morning and stopped three times from the barn to the track, but Ward is dismissing those things as signs his athlete is developing.
“He’s like one of those basketball players that never plays well in the first six minutes of a game,” he said. “Those guys don’t get going until they’ve got a sweat going and they’re all warmed up. He’s like that too.”

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