Fountain of Youth winner Eskendereya<br><a target="blank" href="">Order This Photo</a>

Fountain of Youth winner Eskendereya
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Eskendereya Leads Florida Derby Workers

Probable favorite breezes an easy five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 at Palm Meadows March 14.

Zayat Stable’s 3-year-old Eskendereya led a host of potential Florida Derby (gr. I) contestants when he worked an easy five furlongs in 1:02 2/5 March 14 at Palm Meadows. The probable heavy favorite for the $750,000 test at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park March 20 led a team of a dozen stakes runners on the work tab from trainer Todd Pletcher’s arsenal of talent this winter.

A son of Giant's Causeway , Eskendereya romped home an 8 1/2-length winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) on Feb. 20 over the track.

Earning the bullet for five furlongs on the Palm Meadows tab was Ol’ Memorial Stables and C.E. Glasscock’s Florida Derby probable Soaring Empire , timed in 1:00 2/5 for trainer Cam Gambolati. It was the fastest clocking of 43 works at the distance. The son of 2003 Florida Derby winner Empire Maker  will likely be a longshot as he makes his fourth career start and first around two turns. Eddie Castro, aboard for the work, will ride the colt in the Florida Derby.

Four other probable/possible Florida Derby starters worked over the Gulfstream track. Ken and Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince drilled a "bullet" five-eighths in 59 1/5 for trainer Wesley Ward. The son of Indy King finished fourth last out in the Fountain of Youth, beaten 10 1/4 lengths by Eskendereya.

“I was really excited going into the race (Fountain of Youth),” said Ward. “The horse was training great. I’ve always felt since we bought the horse that he was going to be something special, and I think he’s starting to emerge into what his potential is. Hopefully, he is one that is a late developer and will come around quickly to get us the big one.”

Donald Dizney’s Florida homebred First Dude  worked five furlongs in 1:02 for trainer Dale Romans as he prepares to make his stakes debut in the Florida Derby. The son of Stephen Got Even finished second in two starts in Kentucky last year and broke his maiden going a mile at Gulfstream on Jan. 30 in his 3-year-old debut. He finished a game second in a 1 1/8-mile allowance race last out on Feb. 21.

Two others on the possible Florida Derby list working at Gulfstream were Gainesway Stable’s Tempted to Tapit, five furlongs in 59 4/5 for trainer Steve Klesaris; and Michael Imperio and Kona Stable’s filly Christine Daae, six furlongs in 1:11 flat for trainer Patrick Biancone.

Tempted to Tapit finished second to Discreetly Mine in the Risen Star Stakes (gr. II) at Fair Grounds on Feb. 20 after shipping in from Klesaris’ Gulfstream barn. His connections are weighing whether to run the roan/gray Tapit  gelding in the Florida Derby or return to New Orleans for the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) a week later on Mar. 27.

Biancone plans to run Flying Zee Stable and Kona Stable’s Pulsion in the Florida Derby after the son of Include  finished sixth with trouble in the Fountain of Youth. He has also nominted Christine Daae to the Florida Derby and the $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes (gr. II) over the track and distance earlier on the card.

A chestnut daughter of Giant’s Causeway, Christine Daae has won both of her starts at the meet after a fourth-place career debut last summer at Hollywood Park. She broke her maiden by 8 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream going seven furlongs on Jan. 15 and came back to score by 2 3/4 lengths at nine furlongs on Feb. 28.