Trainers Plot Course in Florida Derby Series

(track report)
South Florida is a 3-year-old mecca because of Gulfstream's Florida Derby Series, which starts on Jan. 18, with the running of the $100,000 Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III). The series continues Feb. 15 with the $200,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. I), and comes to a fitting climax March 15 with the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I).

Daniel Borislow's Toccet, who is one of the two best 2-year-olds of 2002 in America, is expected to take the Florida route to the Triple Crown classics. The John Scanlan-trained colt by Awesome Again won graded stakes at four different tracks during his outstanding juvenile campaign. His first goal at Gulfstream will be the Fountain of Youth. Toccet is in training at Laurel Park, where Scanlan is based year-round.

The Holy Bull is expected to attract some topnotch Triple Crown candidates, including Added Edge, who is unbeaten in four lifetime races and was named the Sovereign Award champion 2-year-old in Canada for 2002. Mark Casse trains the Smart Strike colt for Team Valor Stables and Robert J. Wilso.

Other Holy Bull prospects include Starlight Stable & Barbara Kurtin's Bham, who was second to Toccet last out in the Remsen Stakes (gr. II) at Aqueduct for trainer Todd Pletcher; Sackatoga Stable's Funny Cide, a New York-bred who was unbeaten in three starts at Belmont last season, and Stronach Stable's Powerful Touch, one of trainer Ken McPeek's main classic hopes this season.

Among the others expected to await the Fountain of Youth are John Oxley's Sky Mesa, an unbeaten Pulpit colt who represents trainer John Ward; Einar P. Robsham's Trust n Luck, who won two stakes at Calder for trainer Ralph Ziadie, and Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey's Ten Cents a Shine, a lightly-raced colt trained by Ken McPeek.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has several candidates, including Wertheimer Farm's Indy Dancer and Peachtree Stable's Lion Tamer, who were impressive allowance winners at Gulfstream on Jan. 4.