Trainer Nick Zito, always a threat along the Triple Crown trail, was sitting comfortably Sunday after two of his 3-year-olds posted wins Saturday and a third, High Fly, cruised through his workout and into the picture for the $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) on March 5.
With each big weekend of stakes races, the 3-year-old picture is supposed to get a little clearer. But that doesn't seem to be the case any longer. In fact, over the past several years, the opposite has been true. So it was this past weekend, when we had to turn to non-stakes events to find potential Kentucky Derby (gr. I) contenders.
Stalker Closing Argument registered a game 1 1/2-length victory in the $150,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park, handing 3-5 favorite High Fly his first defeat Saturday.
Gulfstream Park's reshuffled schedule of 3-year-old races gets its first test in the Feb. 5 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) when Kentucky Derby (gr. I) hopefuls are required to stretch out for the first of three 1 1/8-mile stakes.
Live Oak Plantation's High Fly, an impressive winner of his three starts to date, stretches out to two turns for the first time in Saturday's $150,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) for 3-year-olds at Gulfstream Park.
Aventura Stakes winner High Fly will take the next step in the Florida Derby series Saturday by racing in the $150,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) at Gulfstream Park. Trainer Bill White confirmed that news after the colt's latest workout Sunday morning.
Although last weekend saw rainouts on both coasts, including a rare cancellation at Santa Anita, there at least was a 'High Fly' hit that turned into a tape measure home run. So, while the Florida 3-year-olds moved forward, the California horses hit a brick wall and now must wait for dry weather in order to race, and even train.
Live Oak Plantation's undefeated High Fly overtook Magna Graduate coming off the turn and put in an explosive stretch run to win the $125,000 Aventura Stakes for 3-year-olds by nine widening lengths.
The journey to the 2005 Kentucky Derby (gr. I) may only be in its very early stages, but the continued adventures of Robert LaPenta -- "the Accidental Owner" -- are already unfolding. The master of Russian roulette has several guns loaded, and it will be interesting to see in what direction they'll be fired this spring.
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