02/08/2010 12:00AM

Best work yet for Buddy's Saint


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Bruce Levine says he has trouble sleeping the night before his Kentucky Derby hopeful Buddy's Saint is scheduled to work. But it's a good bet Levine slept like a baby on Sunday evening after watching his 3-year-old prospect breeze six furlongs in 1:12.68 under jockey Jose Lezcano here at Gulfstream Park that morning.

Sunday's work was the most important for Buddy's Saint since his arrival in south Florida earlier this winter and the first time he had his regular rider Lezcano aboard. Breaking off into a headwind at the six-furlong pole, Buddy's Saint posted fractions of 24.22 seconds, 36.15, and 48.18 to the half while getting within a couple of lengths of another worker who had broken off in front of him at the half-mile pole. Buddy's Saint appeared to relax just a bit turning into the stretch, but responded well when given slight encouragement from Lezcano in early stretch, completing his final eighth in 11.77 before galloping out seven furlongs in 1:25.13.

"He worked really well, better than ever before," Levine said later Sunday morning. "The horse in front of him kept his attention and Jose said he was well within himself the whole time, that he was afraid to let him run because he had a lot of horse there."

Levine said he plans to work Buddy's Saint six furlongs again either Saturday or Sunday. That will be the colt's final breeze before he makes his 3-year-old debut in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 20. Buddy's Saint has not started since registering a 4 3/4-length victory over Peppi Knows in the Grade 2 Remsen on Nov. 28.

"I don't have to crank him for the first race," said Levine. "It's not do or die for me, although I'll be disappointed if he doesn't run well."

Pletcher spreads out his 3-year-olds

Now that Quality Road's work is done for the meet, Pletcher can really turn his attention to the plethora of 3-year-old talent in his barn and the Derby preps that lie ahead. Pletcher, who trains 13 of the 41 horses nominated to the Fountain of Youth, worked the majority of those horses at Palm Meadows on Sunday, including Eskendereya, who figures to be the stable's designated starter in the Grade 2 race.

Eskendereya worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday's tab, joining a group that included Discreetly Mine (five eighths in 1:00.50) and Rule (five furlongs in 1:00.80).

Discreetly Mine, a troubled fourth as the 9-5 favorite in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid here on Jan. 9, is heading to Fair Grounds to make his next start in the Risen Star, while Rule remains on target for Saturday's Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa.

Pletcher said he's extremely pleased by the way Discreetly Mine has trained following his unlucky trip in the Spectacular Bid.

"The way he's been finishing his works and galloping out afterwards is giving me more confidence that he'll stay two turns," said Pletcher.

Swale may be next for Wildcat Frankie

Although he is nominated to the Fountain of Youth, Wildcat Frankie is unlikely to run.

Wildcat Frankie successfully stretched out to a mile for the first time to win an entry-level allowance race on Saturday. Wildcat Frankie, whose only setback in three starts was a second-place finish in the six-furlong Spectacular Bid, withstood a stiff early challenge from ultimate runner-up Bank the Eight before edging away to a 1 1/4-length tally on Saturday.

"He is a nice enough horse to have gutted out the win, but I didn't like the way he struggled a bit at the end," said Jim Hatchett, who trains Wildcat Frankie for Frank Bertolino's Monarch Stable. "The purpose of the race was to find out what the deal was going a distance, and I think we found out. Unfortunately, drawing the rail didn't really give us the opportunity to see everything we were hoping to see since he broke a step slow and was pressed through a 22-and-change second quarter. We hoped he'd draw outside and be able to rate, and if that had been the case perhaps he'd have been a little more impressive at the end."

Hatchett said the Hutcheson comes up a bit too quick and that the Swale would be the most logical spot for Wildcat Frankie's next start.

The seven-furlong, Grade 2 Swale will be run on March 20.

"Nothing is carved in stone at this point," said Hatchett. "We'll just see what comes up, analyze the races, and make a decision from there."