Updated on 09/16/2011 6:50AM

Allowance today, derby tomorrow?


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The Fountain of Youth Stakes may be the main event on Saturday's program, but it won't be the only race on the card that could impact the $1 million Florida Derby on March 16.

Saturday's fourth race, a preliminary allowance, drew a field of nine 3-year-olds, led by *, who will be making his main-track debut for trainer H. James Bond. The ninth race, a second-level optional claiming race, lured seven 3-year-olds, including High Star, Changeintheweather, and Thiscannonsloaded.

Legislator launched his career here Jan. 9 going 1 1/16 miles on the turf, and was an impressive 1 3/4-length winner. A son of Royal Academy, Legislator has been training extremely well over the dirt at Bond's Payson Park headquarters.

"His pedigree is grass oriented, and the fact he is by Royal Academy led me to start him on the grass the first time," Bond said.

But Legislator also has some dirt breeding. His dam, Quite Honestly, is the granddam of the Bond-trained Behrens, a three-time Grade 1 winner on dirt.

"The way he's trained on the dirt leads me to believe he'll handle the main track equally as well," said Bond of Legislator.

Legislator is nominated for the Florida Derby, but Bond says he won't know whether Legislator will run until after this weekend.

"I'm not making any judgments until I see what happens with his race and what happens with the Fountain of Youth," said Bond.

High Star will likely be favored over Thiscannonsloaded and the Grade 1 winner Changeintheweather in the ninth race. High Star won a preliminary allowance race in his 3-year-old debut and closed out his juvenile campaign by finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, beaten less than two lengths by Repent.

With Silent Fred sidelined by a foot injury, High Star is trainer Nick Zito's leading Florida Derby candidate. Zito thought it would be in his colt's best interest to use an allowance race instead of the Fountain of Youth as a final prep for the Florida Derby.

"I was really pleased to see him come back the way he did to win his first start this year," said Zito. "I believe he's going to be a good one. I thought about the Fountain of Youth, but the only race to really think about here this winter is the [Florida Derby]."

Thiscannonsloaded finished a well-beaten third behind Booklet and Harlan's Holiday in the Holy Bull Stakes. He is trained by Bill Cesare.

Changeintheweather has not started since winning Woodbine's Grade 1 Grey Breeders' Cup Stakes on Oct. 8.

"A Grade 1 win is nice to have, but that wasn't an overly tough field he beat," said trainer David Bell. "He's trained very well since he's been here, but he's going to have to prove to us he belongs before we consider running him in a race like the Florida Derby. This looks like a very competitive field he caught Saturday, although it's still a bit easier spot than the Fountain of Youth."

New game for Hurley

One year ago, Bobby Hurley celebrated his biggest victory since winning an NCAA basketball title at Duke when his colt Songandaprayer scored a front-running victory in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He does not have a prominent 3-year-old this year, but his passion for the game remains high.

Hurley has been at Gulfstream Park all week, spending mornings alongside trainer John Dowd. On Thursday, Hurley's 4-year-old filly Astrid finished fifth in the ninth race while making her first start since July 28. And on Saturday, Hurley will be in action one race before the Fountain of Youth, when his 3-year-old gelding Hudson Street makes his debut in a six-furlong maiden race, the 10th on the 12-race card.

"Some of our 3-year-olds bucked shins last year, a couple got hurt," Hurley said. "They're getting close to races now."

Hudson Street's rivals include Devil Hunter, a Pulpit colt for whom trainer Joe Orseno has high hopes. Devil Hunter, a $1.45 million yearling buy, also is making his first start.

Hurley races as Devil Eleven Stable, paying homage to the Duke Blue Devils, and his uniform number. Astrid and Hudson Street are two of seven horses Hurley has at Gulfstream Park this meet with Dowd. He said last year's Fountain of Youth has been the highlight of being a racehorse owner.

"He went off a longshot, too," Hurley said of Songandaprayer, who paid $38 to win. "To win a race of that caliber, a Grade 1, was a thrill."

Songandaprayer ran in last year's Kentucky Derby, but was retired at the end of last year and is now at stud in Florida, at Marablue Farm in Ocala.

"I bred some mares to him," Hurley said. "His book is full. He's been well received so far."

Hurley also sold the sprinter Shooter as a stallion prospect last year. He joked that Astrid remained in training because "losing Songandaprayer and Shooter, I needed to keep her around."

Hurley lives in Colts Neck, N.J. He spent less time in Florida this winter than last, in part because his oldest child has started school. He said he is helping his brother Dan coach basketball at St. Benedict's Prep.

Saarland works, pointing to Gotham

*, the Remsen Stakes winner, breezed four furlongs in 49 seconds on a track rated good on Thursday morning. Trainer Shug McGaughey said Saarland will run in next month's Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct, but he hopes to run in Saarland in an allowance race here before that.

Also on the work tab at Gulfstream was the highly regarded Warners, who breezed a half-mile in 50.20 seconds for trainer Todd Pletcher. He has not raced since a fast maiden win last summer at Saratoga.

At Calder, the venerable * breezed four furlongs in 48.80 seconds. He won the Skip Away Handicap in his last start. And the filly Cellars Shiraz, recent upset winner of the Herecomesthebride Stakes, worked a mile in 1:48.20.

Big bucks at Keeneland

The condition book for Keeneland's meet is out and is being distributed here this week by Keeneland's director of racing, Rogers Beasley. Based on the reaction of trainers, the lucrative purses at that April 5-26 meeting will cause an exodus from Gulfstream for trainers who are not based in Florida year-round.

The running joke on the backside Thursday morning was that the first four races on Keeneland's opening day card are worth more than what was offered on the entire 10-race card at Gulfstream on Thursday.

Trainer Nick Zito is among those based at Gulfstream this winter who said he will have a large contingent at Keeneland.

- The Fountain of Youth has been run 54 times. Thirteen horses have exited the race to win the Kentucky Derby.

- additional reporting by Jay Privman

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