Julian De Marc's North East Bound, a close second in the Breeder's Cup Mile (gr. I) on the turf at Churchill Downs in his last start, worked on Wednesday and remains on schedule for his expected appearance in the $500,000 Donn Handicap (gr. I) at 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 3 according to trainer Bill Perry.
"I worked him five furlongs this morning," Perry said of the Meadowlands Cup winner. "He went in 1:02 and it was an easy work for him. He's coming along fine in his training and if continues to do so then his next start will be in the Donn Handicap."
Perry saddled his double stakes winner, One Eyed Joker, to win a tough allowance race on the grass here on Monday and says the 3-year-old colt will now be pointed towards the $100,000 Palm Beach Stakes (gr. III) to be run at 1 1/8 miles on the turf here on Feb. 19.
"It was a good win for him," Perry said. "Now I'm looking to run him next in that turf stakes for 3-year-olds the middle of next month (Palm Beach Stakes)".
No horse has ever won the Grade 1 Florida Derby one year and come back the following season to win the Donn Handicap.Cryptoclearance won the Florida Derby in 1987 and came back two years later to take down winning honors in the 1989 Donn Handicap, but capturing the two showcase Gulfstream events in successive years would be an unprecedented accomplishment.
Could Hal's Hope be the horse to do it?
"Right now, I'm just trying to freshen him up," said trainer Harold Rose, who also bred Hal's Hope, winner last year's Run For The Orchids. The 89-year-old conditioner owns Hal's Hope in partnership with his family. "At the present time, the Donn Handicap is still a possibility," Rose said. "However, I don't have a work planned for him right now. I'm still trying to give him a little break. He'll tell me when he's ready to go again."Others still on track for the Donn are Albert the Great, Captain Steve, Pleasant Breeze, Sir Bear, Vision and Verse, American Halo, Rich Celebration, Rock and Roll, and Noble Ruler.