Booklet, winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Booklet, winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes.

Booklet, Stephentown Work Toward Florida Derby; Governor Hickel On Track for Swale

Trainer John T. Ward Jr. is optimistic about Holy Bull (gr. III) and Fountain of Youth (gr. I) Stakes winner Booklet's chances in the $1 million, 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby following the colt's five-furlong breeze Saturday morning.

"I like the way he's coming into the race," said Ward, who conditioned last year's Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby winner, Monarchos. "He's coming into it the same way he did the Fountain of Youth. I'm not worried about the distance. I think he'll get a mile and an eighth and I think he'll get a mile and a quarter (distance of Kentucky Derby)."

Booklet went five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 on a fast track.

"He went good over what was a difficult racetrack," Ward said. "He went five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 (breezing) and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 and change. Allen (exercise boy Allen Rennie) said he went evenly and when he came back he didn't blow out a match."

Also working for the March 16 Florida Derby was Stephentown, who went six furlongs in 1:13 2/5 for trainer Anthony Reinstedler after running the first five furlongs in 1:00 2/5.

"I thought it was an excellent work," Reinstedler said. "I was very happy with the racetrack and very pleased with his workout. He's in good shape and I'm not going to second guess myself on anything. It's that time of the year when we go through the sorting out process and now is the time for him to prove himself in the Florida Derby."

Willmott Stables' son of Wild Again has won two of four career races but finished a disappointing sixth in the Fountain of Youth Stakes last time out.

Preparing for a Florida Derby undercard race was Nick Zito-trained Governor Hickel, who went five furlongs in 1:02, breezing ahead of the seven-furlong Swale Stakes (gr. III).

"He's doing fine and the Swale is next," said Zito.