Slow Breeze for Hutcheson-Bound 'Samurai

(from Gulfstream Park notes)
Leading Classics contender First Samurai breezed six furlongs in 1:14 at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning as he continues to work toward his expected season debut in the $150,000 Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) at seven furlongs on Feb. 4.

"I thought it went well for his first six-furlong work of the year," said trainer Frank Brothers, who saddled Pulpit for victory in the 1997 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream. "It was slower rather than faster, which is fine. I know he's fast. This year he needs to show he can settle and keep on running."

There were just three recorded workouts at the three-quarter distance at Gulfstream Saturday, of which First Samurai's tied with the fastest.

First Samurai breezed with Brother's wife, the former jockey Donna Barton-Brothers, aboard. It was the 3-year-old Giant
Causeway colt's fourth workout at Gulfstream since arriving from Kentucky for the winter season.

He started his career with four straight victories including the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga and Champagne Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont before suffering his only defeat by finishing third as the favorite behind Stevie Wonderboy in the Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) Oct. 29 at Belmont Park.

Brothers, looking ahead to a run down the Triple Crown trail in the spring, indicated a gate workout could be the next test for First Samurai, who earned $682,575 last year. The veteran horseman has previous experience with Pulpit and Hansel in 1991.

"Any young horse has to improve going from 2 to 3," said Brothers. "He's like the rest of them in that you expect him to mature, but the good ones improve and the ones that aren't so good just stay the same. Physically, he's a big, strong colt. It's hard for me to tell seeing him every day, but it looks like he's grown some. We just have to keep hoping he continues to develop."