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Feb 19, 2004

ATC Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            Gulfstream Park was very busy on February 14th, 2004 and it wasn’t just because of

Valentines day. They hosted some stakes races for three year olds along with two allowance races for

other top three year olds on the comeback trail.

            In the first race of the day BIRDSTONE, made his first start of the year in an allowance race at one mile

and 70 yards and won that race easily as the heavy favorite. The time of the race, 1:42:2 was reasonable and was

just getting him ready for either the Florida Derby or the Lane’s End at Turfway. This 3YO colt by Grindstone should

handle the classic distances and is trained by Nick Zito who knows how to get a horse ready for the rigors of the

Triple Crown races.

            In the sixth race on that same day, VALUE PLUS made his three year old debut for red hot trainer Todd Pletcher.

This 3YO colt by Unbridled’s Song, is a big horse standing close to 17 hands. After breaking well and battling for the

lead his class took over and he drew away to score by more than five lengths in a very good time of 1:21:2. The colt is

expected to make his next start in the Florida Derby where he will tested for class and stamina coming off a seven furlong

race. He is in trainer Todd Pletcher’s barn so we will not worry about that.

            In race 9 there was another allowance race for three year olds at 1 and 1/8th miles which featured some interesting

prospects for the Triple Crown. SWINGFORTHEFENCES was an easy winner drawing off to score by more than five

lengths for trainer Rick Violette and jockey Jerry Bailey. After rating off the pace midpack, he took over and easily drew

away from SHANIKO another interesting prospect from the Pletcher barn. This 3YO colt is owned by Klaravich stables

and will probably be separated from his stablemate READ THE FOOTNOTES until Churchill if they both make it there.

            In the next race the Hutcheson stakes a Grade II for three year olds going seven furlongs Todd Pletcher was again

represented well with the top two finishers. This 3YO colt looked good scoring over his stablemate DEPUTY STORM and

the time of the race was solid in 1:22:1. However, the time of VALUE PLUS was faster and more impressive visually. At the

moment Pletcher doesn’t haven’t anything solid for LIMEHOUSE in terms of his next start.

            In the next race the Fountain of Youth Stakes, a Grade II for three year olds going 1 and 1/16th miles. The two

favorites in the race were READ THE FOOTNOTES and SECOND OF JUNE. After hooking up on the far turn those two

battled to the wire with READ THE FOOTNOTES scoring a game neck victory. It was seven and a half lengths back to the

third place finisher and another five and a half lengths back to the rest of the field. There was some unfortunate news after

the race as it was found that SECOND OF JUNE had fractured his cannon bone and would be out until at least the fall.

READ THE FOOTNOTES on the other hand will be pointed to the Florida Derby on 3/13 and will try to make it two New

York breds in a row to score at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

            Gulfstream wasn’t the only track to play host to a Triple Crown prep race. Fair Grounds hosted the Grade III Risen Star

stakes race for three year olds at 1 and 1/16th miles. This race lost some of its luster when TAPIT was not able to enter because

of tender shins but this race did see an interesting prospect emerge in GRADEPOINT. After trailing the field early

on, GRADEPOINT (A. P. INDY-CLASS KRIS by KRIS S.) He has the breeding to go with it so follow him in the Louisiana

Derby against better company.


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