(Edited press release)
Susan Magnier, Michael Tabor, and Derrick Smith’s Dunkirk , runner-up in the Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park March 28, worked a solid five furlongs in :59.9 April 18 at Palm Meadows as he continues his preparation for the May 2 Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) at Churchill Downs.
Trained by Todd Pletcher, the roan/gray son of Unbridled's Song appears almost certain to be assured a berth in the Kentucky Derby field, which is limited to 20 based on graded-stakes earnings, after several defections were announced this week.
A $3.7 million Keeneland September yearling purchase, Dunkirk won his first two career starts earlier in the Gulfstream meet and was the 11-10 favorite for the Florida Derby, finishing 1 3/4 lengths behind Edward P. Evans’ Quality Road .
While Pletcher chose to keep Dunkirk at Palm Meadows to continue his preparation for the Derby, trainer Jimmy Jerkens shipped Quality Road out of Palm Meadows to Belmont Park, where the Virginia-bred son of Elusive Quality worked six furlongs in 1:12 2/5 April 17 over the Belmont training track.