02/26/2011 3:39PM

Arch Traveler under consideration for Florida Derby following allowance win


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Arch Traveler stamped himself a potential candidate for the Grade 1 Florida Derby after beating a strong field of first-level allowance horses, including a game runner-up Nacho Business, by three-quarters of a length going a mile and one-eighth for the first time in Saturday’s third race.

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Arch Traveler, a son of Sky Mesa owned by Centenniel Farm, was making his third start of the meet but his first beyond seven furlongs or around two turns and passed the test with flying colors. Under a nicely judged ride by Jose Lezcano, Arch Traveler eased back off Private Prize in the run around the clubhouse turn, stalked the leader for nearly seven furlongs, edged well clear in early stretch, then had enough left to withstand a final surge from Nacho Business.

The victory was the second in a row for Arch Traveler, who won a seven-furlong allowance race here less than three weeks earlier.

“It was his first time around two turns or going this distance and he handled it well,” said trainer Jimmy Jerkens. “The pace was slow and I was happy. Sometimes you get a two-turn race and they go a hundred miles and hour at the start and collapse at the end and you can’t tell anything by that.”

Jerkens said he’d like to give Arch Traveler a chance to earn enough graded money to get into the Kentucky Derby and that the Florida Derby was a possible option for his next start.

“He’s now run three races pretty quickly by today’s standings but I wanted to get this one under his belt,” said Jerkens. “There’s a chance he could come back in the Florida Derby. We’ll see if there are any defections along the way. We’ve got plenty of time to decide but this could also give us the chance to wait until we get back to New York.”

Nacho Business turned in a big effort in just his second career start, angling off the rail for clearance upon settling into the stretch before finishing with good energy to be whittling into Arch Traveler’s lead steadily at the end.