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Mar 19, 2004


By: Joe Girardi

            The weekend of March 13th-14th was an important weekend for Triple Crown prep races and was

supposed to help start to clear up the Derby picture, instead it made it more cloudy.

            On Saturday March 13th, Gulfstream Park hosted two prep races in the Swale Stakes and the Florida Derby.

The Swale was run at seven furlongs and saw EUROSILVER finish second as the favorite, losing by a head

to WYNN DOT COMMA. With only five horses making it to the starting gate EUROSILVER was sent off as the

even money favorite and CHAPEL ROYAL, returning from the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile was sent off at 6-5. After

stalking the pace in third, EUROSILVER took a long time to get going and closed with a flourish to just miss by a

head. DASHBOARD DRUMMER was four lengths further back in third and CHAPEL ROYAL showed speed but

never made an impact, backing up on the turn to finish a bad fourth. CAIMAN, the longest shot in the race trailed

throughout to finish fifth and last. EUROSILVER is scheduled to make his next start in the Blue Grass

            The Florida Derby had a field of 10 with the favorite, READ THE FOOTNOTES going off as the even money

favorite. VALUE PLUS, coming off a big allowance win was second choice at 7-2, THE CLIFF’S EDGE and TAPIT

were co-third choices at 5-1 and the rest of the field was in double digits. FRISKY SPIDER, a longshot opened a clear

early lead while VALUE PLUS and READ THE FOOTNOTES tracked in second and third. Entering the far turn

READ THE FOOTNOTES made his move inside while VALUE PLUS came outside to take over entering the stretch.

As READ THE FOOTNOTES began to fade VALUE PLUS had taken over the lead only to lose it late to 37-1

FRIENDS LAKE. The time of the race was a slow 1:51:1 but the track was slow that day and very dry, so don’t put

much emphasis on the time of the race.

            Trainer John Kimmel intends to train FRIENDS LAKE up to the Derby, READ THE FOOTNOTES maybe

starting to show his wear and tear from the tough Fountain of Youth and his SMOKE GLACKEN pedigree.

VALUE PLUS ran very well off only one prep race, while THE CLIFF’S EDGE was a solid third. TAPIT, who hails from

the Michael Dickinson barn finished sixth, but there was some mucus found in a post race scope.

            Golden Gate Fields in Northern California hosted the El Camino Real Derby, a Grade III that is run at the distance

of 1 and 1/16th miles. The winner was the little known KILGOWAN who scored at 26-1. Don’t expect to see any of these

on any top 10 Derby lists any time soon.

            On Sunday March 14th the San Felipe at Santa Anita was run along with the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay

Downs. The San Felipe, a Grade II was run at 1 and 1/16th miles. The favorite in the race was ST AVERIL who was sent

off at 6-5. He finished second beaten just a nose by the winner PREACHINATTHEBAR, a Bob Baffert trainee. The

second choice in the race was Breeders’ Cup Juvenile hero, ACTION THIS DAY, who finished a well beaten seventh.

He did come out of the race with a cut on his right hind leg which may have attributed to his poor performance. It looks

like the cut was not that bad and should be back in action very soon. PREACHINATTHEBAR could race next in either

the Wood Memorial or the Santa Anita Derby, ST AVERIL and ACTION THIS DAY are both being pointed to the Santa

Anita Derby. The rest of the field has stamped themselves as pretenders.

            At Tampa Bay Downs on March 14th they hosted the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby. The winner of the race was the

4-5 favorite LIMEHOUSE for trainer Todd Pletcher. This 3YO colt by GRAND SLAM got up to score by a neck but he

may be a step behind the best three year olds this year. The second choice SWINGFORTHEFENCES had to settle for

third while hanging on the money late. Both of these horses would have to improve next out when facing off against

better competition.

            Also in action over the weekend are two the better three year old fillies in training. HALFBRIDLED, previously

undefeated went down to finish second to SILENT SIGHS in the Santa Anita Oaks on March 13th. MADCAP ESCAPADE,

ran her record to three for three easily defeating a field of four other horses while being taken in hand to the wire. Both of

these fillies are expected to run in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland. The Kentucky Oaks is shaping up to be a very good

race if everyone can make it to the race healthy.

            Next week more Triple Crown prep races.



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