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Bandini in Fountain of Youth tune-up
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher worked his two Kentucky Derby hopefuls, Bandini and Proud Accolade, within minutes of one another at Palm Meadows on Sunday morning. And though both 3-year-olds have the same goal, their latest workouts were a complete contrast in style.
Bandini, who will make his next start here Saturday in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, breezed in company along with another Pletcher 3-year-old, Coin Silver. With jockey John Velazquez aboard Bandini, the pair went in fractions of 25.53 seconds, 37.41, and 48.84, and completed the six furlongs in 1:14.05.
Proud Accolade, on the other hand, went a leisurely five furlongs in company with the older, more accomplished handicap runner Limehouse. The two barely broke out of a gallop coming away from the pole, running their opening quarter in a slow 27.50 and then picking up the pace to finish five furlongs in 1:03.85 and gallop out six furlongs in 1:15.69.
Proud Accolade and Limehouse are both headed to Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where they are scheduled to run on March 12. Proud Accolade will run in the Louisiana Derby and Limehouse in the New Orleans Handicap.
"Bandini worked slow the other day, and I needed to get a little more into him this morning," Pletcher said. "I was very happy with the way he was moving and the way he galloped out. Proud Accolade, on the other hand, worked a solid five-eighths last week and is only running a mile and one-sixteenth in his next start, so he didn't have to do as much today."
Bandini will be among the favorites in the 1 1/8-mile Fountain of Youth. A son of Fusaichi Pegasus, he has won both his starts here this winter, including a nine-length entry-level allowance victory when stretching out to 1 1/8 miles for the first time on Feb. 5.
Proud Accolade will attempt to go two turns for the third time in the Louisiana Derby. A son of Yes It's True, he was sixth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a distant fifth in the Hollywood Futurity before bouncing back with a huge win here in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes.
Among Pletcher's other stars to work five furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday were his champion filly Ashado, who went in 1:00.20; the undefeated 3-year-old filly Maddalena, in 1:01; and the older graded stakes winner Pollard's Vision, in 1:00.
Maddalena will be heavily favored to win Saturday's Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes. Pollard's Vision will join Limehouse at the Fair Grounds in the New Orleans Handicap while Ashado remains on schedule for her 2005 debut April 9 in Oaklawn's Apple Blossom Handicap.
Sun King runs in Tampa Bay Derby next
After making an impressive 3-year-old debut here on Saturday, Sun King will make his next start in the Grade 3, $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 19, trainer Nick Zito said Monday.
Zito also said that Andromeda's Hero, who won the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa on Saturday, would be pointed to the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park on March 26.
Zito said he and Lincoln Collins, racing manager for owner Tracy Farmer, chose the Tampa Bay Derby for Sun King because it would give the colt four weeks to the Blue Grass on April 16. Zito added that he is running Andromeda's Hero in the Lane's End rather than at Tampa Bay because he did not want to run Andromeda's Hero back in three weeks.
Sun King, in his first start since running third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, romped to a 5 3/4-length score in an entry-level allowance race on Saturday. He ran a mile in 1:36.03 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 104, the highest by a 3-year-old this year.
Lost in the Fog ready for Swale
The undefeated Lost in the Fog was expected to arrive Tuesday in south Florida, where he will be heavily favored to win Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Swale Stakes.
Lost in the Fog completed preparations for the Swale at his home base of Golden Gate Fields on Sunday, drilling five furlongs in a bullet 58.20 seconds under jockey Russell Baze.
Baze was happy with the work, in which Lost in the Fog set fractions of 11.40, 22.80, 34.60, and 46.60.
"He did just what I wanted him to do," Baze said. "He showed a little more zip early, coasted around the turn, and finished strong. You've got to make him do a bit or he's not going to get anything out of it."
The last time Lost in the Fog was in south Florida, he raised eyebrows with a 4 1/2-lengh win in the Sunshine Millions Dash. His three wins are by a combined 26 3/4 lengths.
"I got him back here and it was a couple of weeks to get where you wanted to do something with him,'' trainer Greg Gilchrist said from Golden Gate. "He's ready to go, obviously, by the way he worked. It's time for him to run again.''
Gilchrist said that if Lost in the Fog wins the Swale impressively he will be nominated to the Triple Crown by the late nomination date of March 26. Gilchrist said he would then look for a two-turn race for Lost in the Fog to see if he's worthy of running in the Kentucky Derby. That race could be the Florida Derby on April 2.
Lost in the Fog could have as many as eight challengers in the seven-furlong Swale. Others under consideration to run are Around the Cape, Evil Minister, More Smoke, Natural Phenomenon, Port Town, Santana Strings, Straight Line, and United.
Kansas City Boy's work comes a day late
Trainer Ken McPeek had his work plans for Fountain of Youth candidate Kansas City Boy altered by the weather and a sealed racetrack Sunday. As a result, McPeek postponed the scheduled work and brought Kansas City Boy out Monday before dawn to breeze five furlongs in 1:00
"I would rather have worked on Sunday but I didn't want to go over a sealed track," said McPeek. "I didn't want to risk the same thing happening again today [Monday] so I brought him out in the dark when the track was freshly harrowed and in perfect shape."
McPeek said Kansas City Boy, runnerup to Closing Argument in the Holy Bull Stakes, would be entered in the Fountain of Youth along with stablemate Wild Desert - but only one of the two will start.
"Kansas City Boy has drawn the inside in his last two starts, but he relaxes better when on the outside," said McPeek. "I'll enter both horses and see what posts we draw. I'll probably run one and send the other to the Louisiana Derby."
Other Fountain of Youth hopefuls work
Park Avenue Ball, another Fountain of Youth contender, worked five furlongs at Palm Meadows on Sunday for trainer Jim Ryerson. He broke off slowly but finished full of run, completing the distance in 1:00.94 and covering the final quarter-mile in a swift 23.03. Park Avenue Ball launched his 3-year-old campaign by finishing second in the Hutcheson.
"He hasn't been two turns yet so this will be his chance," said Ryerson. "His breeding and his attitude both suggest he'll handle the distance. This race will let us find out where we sit in the Kentucky Derby picture."
Dearest Mon, fifth in the Holy Bull, worked four furlongs in 48.60 Monday at Palm Meadows. Trainer Rick Violette said Ramon Dominguez would ride Dearest Mon in the Fountain of Youth.
Closing Argument aims toward Florida Derby
Though Holy Bull Stakes winner Closing Argument put in a solid five-furlong workout Monday at Palm Meadows he will not run in the Fountain of Youth.
Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said he plans to run Closing Argument in the Florida Derby on April 2, and that will be his final prep before the Kentucky Derby on May 7.
"He's fine to run in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, but we just opted to give him 60 days [between races] rather than 30,'' McLaughlin said.
* Roses in May continues to prepare for his next start in the Dubai World Cup on March 26. With Angel Cordero aboard, Roses in May worked five furlongs in 1:00.48 and galloped out seven-eighths in 1:26.20.
- additional reporting by Chuck Dybdal and David Grening