Ward also was happy with Hero's Tribute's easy 5-furlong work in 1:04 2/5. "He's gotten laid back on me, which I'm thoroughly glad to see. We've been trying to get him to relax and harness his speed, and he was just having a grand old time out there. After the work, Mr. Oxley was down in the mouth, but I told him, 'This is what we've been working for.'"
In other races on Saturday, Burning Roma, who also is not being considered for the Derby, captured the Sam F. Davis at Tampa Bay Downs after making a powerful move around the turn, then having to fight off a stubborn American Prince to win by a length. It looked as if Burning Roma was going to win off by himself after swallowing up the field with one sweeping move. But he struck the front much earlier than he's used to. When American Prince battled him through the stretch from the inside, Burning Roma pinned his ears and began edging clear in the final sixteenth.In the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn, Son of Rocket, coming off a victory in the 6-furlong Mountain Valley Stakes, wired his field in the slop, winning by 2 1/4 lengths in 1:38 1/5. Runner-up Arctic Boy finished 6 3/4 lengths ahead of the third-place finisher. With three scratches in the race, including the promising Grifter, we'll have to wait until the Rebel to get a clearer picture of the Oaklawn 3-year-olds.At Turfway Park, Bonnie Scot captured his second Spiral Stakes prep, coming from dead-last to win the John Battaglia Memorial going away by 1 1/2 lengths. The race was set up nicely for the son of Lord Avie after Daring Pegasus cut out a wicked pace of :22 4/5 and :45 4/5, then seemed to lose his action briefly turning for home. Bonnie Scot came flying around the turn to pick up the pieces. with X Country getting up for second.Looking aheadNick Zito said he's seriously considering going the Flamingo-Lexington route with A P Valentine. Zito does not want to put any more early pressure on the colt to make sure his shins, which he bucked in the Breeders' Cup, are good and cool after being a bit warm after his 7-furlong allowance race. With a half in :44 flat, and A P Valentine only 7 lengths back, it was not the ideal comeback race. The key is whether the extra time will help get his shins back to normal. If it does, we should see the real A P Valentine once again. Meanwhile, Zito will be represented in the Gotham Stakes by Whirlaway winner Regal Shivers. Zito also has a talented colt in It's So Simple, who should be heard from very shortly.Looking ahead to next weekend, a potential sleeper in the Florida Derby is the Lukas-trained Turnberry Isle, who turned in a sharp 5-furlong work in the mud in 1:00 3/5 at Santa Anita, and should show big improvement off his disappointing effort in the Santa Catalina. Remember, this colt was only beaten 3 lengths in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Lukas also will run Unbridled Time in the El Camino Real Derby, then the following week, he'll send out Gold Trader in the San Felipe and Scorpion in the Gotham. He'll follow that up a week later with Buckle Down Ben in the Spiral Stakes, where he'll face Meetyouathebrig and Holiday Thunder among others. Lukas's final Derby hopeful, High Cascade, could go in the Rebel. Baffert will run Global Gait in the San Felipe, along with Point Given. Another interesting Gotham horse could be the Maryland-based Marciano, who's won four of his last five, annihilating his field in the recent Herat Stakes. The Rebel is another option.After watching Monarchos work 5 furlongs in 1:00 3/5 for the Florida Derby Sunday, trainer John Ward said, "I'm not saying he's going to win, but they're going to know something's breathing down their neck in the stretch. He went every eighth faster than the one before, and came home his last eighth in :11 1/5 with the boy squeezing him down. He galloped out in 1:13 2/5 and pulled up 7 furlongs in 1:27 and a mile in 1:43. He worked like gangbusters."