Nokoma in Bullet Work; Other Florida Derby Contenders on Track

Remsen Stakes (gr. II) runner-up Nokoma displayed his fitness for Saturday's $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) with a fast workout at Gulfstream Park on Monday.

In a move faster than intended by trainer Todd Pletcher, Nokoma worked five furlongs in :58 1/5, the fastest time of the day among the 47 horses worked at that distance. The 3-year-old son of Pulpit galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.

"He went a little faster than I intended," Pletcher said. "Another horse broke off about 10 lengths in front of him and he wanted to catch him. I know the track is a little on the quick side but it was a fast workout. The good thing is it doesn't appear to have affected him because he came back to the barn in good shape."

Owned by Michael Tabor, Nokoma has one allowance victory to his credit this year after running fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes in his seasonal debut. "He showed a lot of determination in that race," Pletcher said of the Holy Bull. "He showed it again this morning when he tried to catch that horse. Other than the work being a little fast this morning, he's doing well and is coming into Saturday's race in fine shape."

Pletcher said Best Turn Stakes winner Smooth Jazz, who just joined his stable after being purchased by Tabor, could contest the seven furlong, $150,000 Swale Stakes (gr. III) on the Florida Derby card. "I'm really don't know that much about the horse at this time," Pletcher said of the Storm Boot colt who is also nominated to the Florida Derby. "I know he won both his races at six furlongs at Aqueduct. I'll observe him the next couple of days and see how he's going and if I run him on Saturday it would probably be in the Swale.

Also going through their final paces for the Florida Derby on Monday were High Star and D'Coach.

With exercise rider Heather Conrad aboard, High Star breezed five furlongs in 1:01. "I was very pleased with the way he worked this morning," Zito said of the Private Terms colt. "The track is in excellent shape and he handled it well. He's a tiger and has a lot of heart. He tries hard all the time."

D'Coach, a son of Dehere trained by Shug McGaughey, breezed four furlongs in :47 4/5, the fourth fastest of the day among the 50 horses working the half-mile distance.

Ethan Man, another 3-year-old scheduled to see action Saturday in the Swale, zipped a half-mile in :46 4/5, the fastest time for 51 horses at the distance.

"I was looking for him to go in around :48," trainer Patrick Byrne said. "It surprised me he went so fast because he did it so easily. I think he'll run a big race in the Swale. We think he has a lot of talent. He was most impressive when he won his only start at Gulfstream. It was at six furlongs and I'll stretch him out to seven furlongs in the Swale Stakes. Pat Day rode him when he won here and he'll ride him back in Saturday's stake."

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