Midway Cat, the third-place finisher in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), worked four furlongs in :49.20 over the Gulfstream park main track in preparation for the 1 1/8 miles Florida Derby (gr. I) March 15."It was just an easy work," said trainer Rick Hiles. "I just let him stretch his legs a little so he could get back into the mold. I had a 150-pound exercise boy on him this morning and he started slow but I got him going the first quarter in :13 and the last three-eighths in :36 and change. That's what I wanted for him to finish up strong. I'll work him once more before the Florida Derby. He'll work five-eighths of a mile next Wednesday and it'll be a serious move."Midway Cat won one of his six starts in 2002 but was an impressive winner of his 2003 seasonal debut at Gulfstream on Jan. 18. He romped to a 6 1/2-length triumph in a 1 1/16 miles allowance race that persuaded Hiles to run him back in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 15. Midway Cat ran third in that 1 1/16 miles test. "I was pleased with the way he ran in the Fountain of Youth," Hiles said. "I might not have had him tight enough and that's my fault. He was rank early and Jorge (jockey Jorge Chavez) had trouble getting him to rate. He got a little tired in the stretch and as I said that was probably my fault. He won't get tired in the Florida Derby."A field of six or seven remains likely for the Florida Derby. Trust N Luck and Supah Blitz, the one-two finishers in the Fountain of Youth, will head the local contingent. The race lost one of its top contenders last week when Offlee Wild, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) in January, ran a high temperature and missed several days of training. The lone shipper due in for the Florida Derby is Empire Maker, a Bobby Frankel-trained colt who is due to arrive at Gulfstream on March 10.
Also considered likely for the Florida Derby are Aristocat, Indy Dancer, Midway Cat and Senor Swinger. On the possible list is Region of Merit, who is stabled at Payson Park with trainer Christophe Clement.