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Apr 08, 2011

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            There were two prep races in Florida on April 3rd one for three year olds in the seven furlong Swale Stakes and the other in the $1 million dollar Florida Derby, the deepest prep race for three year olds so far this year.

            In the Swale Stakes there was a field of five that went postward with TRAVELIN MAN going off as the 2-5 favorite with FLASHPOINT opting for the Florida Derby later in the card. TRAVELIN MAN a three year old by Trippi had one win and one second from two prior starts heading into the Swale Stakes. As the field broke from the gate, longshot RAZMATAZ another Pletcher trainee came out of the gate running and set the pace through a moderate half mile in 46:2, as they entered the lane, TRAVELIN MAN took over into the lane just as the pace was heating up and scored very easily by two lengths in a solid final time of 1:21:4. The last 1/8th of a mile was under 12 seconds and he really wasn’t being asked, it would have been a good race had FLASHPOINT decided to run in the Swale instead of the Florida Derby. INDIANO who was five for five in Panama before shipping here to race at Gulfstream, ran very well in his first start in this country checking in second in a sharp time. He stretched out to seven furlongs for his next start and finished up well for second behind a very solid prospect in TRAVELIN MAN. I don’t expect either one to run in any Triple Crown races but they should make the three year old sprint division very interesting this year.

            Moving along to the Florida Derby, there was a field of eight that went to post in what many experts felt was the strongest prep race for three year olds of the year. The 3-2 favorite in the race was SOLDAT who was coming off a big allowance win followed up by a solid win in the Fountain of Youth over a few of these horses. STAY THIRSTY, Mike Repole and Todd Pletcher’s second stringer to the great UNCLE MO was coming off a big win in the Gotham scoring by a bit more than three lengths in that race. He was adding blinkers for this race off a win and would be stretching out to the longest distance of his career. TO HONOR AND SERVE, a Bill Mott trainee had a lot of people talking last year with two huge wins in the Nashua and Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct last November. He didn’t make his first start of the year until the Fountain of Youth, he stalked the leaders in that race, made a move on the turn to get into contention but tired to finish third almost seven lengths behind SOLDAT. He was clearly in need of that race and was expected to put in a better effort in the Florida Derby. FLASHPOINT who was two for two in his career, both daylight wins, one of those coming in the Grade II Hutcheson Stakes over TRAVELIN MAN would be stretching out to two turns for the first time to see if he was a Derby horse. DIALED IN, a horse at the top of many Derby lists would have to rebound from the first loss of his career, a second place finish in an allowance race against older horses. As they broke from the gate, it was a little surprising to see that SHACKLEFORD the longest shot in the race at 68-1 was sent right to the lead with TO HONOR AND SERVE stalking from second while the expected frontrunner FLASHPOINT  who broke a bit outward tracking those leaders from third. As they moved to the far turn the fractions were honest, 23:1, 46:1, 1:10:3 with SHACKLEFORD still holding that lead. As they turned into the lane SHACKLEFORD put away TO HONOR AND SERVE leading by two lengths with FLASHPOINT running in place back in fourth as DIALED IN was bearing down on the leader. As they got to the wire DIALED IN got up and nailed SHACKLEFORD by a head in a not so impressive final time of 1:50 flat. The final 1/8th of a mile was 13:4 and is cause for some concern going forward. SHACKLEFORD ran a very good race for second at 68-1, while more than six lengths clear of the show horse TO HONOR AND SERVE who was another 1 and ¼ lengths ahead of FLASHPOINT who ran fourth. SOLDAT the beaten favorite never really got going and checked in fifth. I don’t expect to see FLASHPOINT going two turns anytime soon and will TO HONOR AND SERVE and SOLDAT move on to the Derby off subpar efforts remains to be seen. Things may clear up a bit more this weekend with three big prep races. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct featuring UNCLE MO, the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne and the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita which lost some of its luster when morning line favorite PREMIER PEGASUS had to be withdrawn when he exited a morning gallop with a hairline fracture in the cannon bone of his left foreleg.

            We will take a look at those preps next week.

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