03/25/2011 1:31PM

Bowman's Causeway gets green light for Florida Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
The Canadian-bred Bowman's Causeway, whose major goal remains the Queen's Plate, will get a shot at next weekend's Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Add Bowman’s Causeway’s name to the short list of 3-year-olds eyeing the $ 1 million Florida Derby.

Trainer Patrick Biancone confirmed on Friday morning his intentions to start Bowman’s Causeway in next Sunday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. Bowman’s Causeway, a Canadian-bred son of Giant’s Causeway has already started four times here this winter, winning a nine furlong allowance race on Feb. 11 before finishing a troubled fourth in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. He will wheel back on short rest in the Florida Derby, having finished third behind the Todd Pletcher-trained duo of Dance City and Cal Nation going a mile under allowance conditions last Saturday.

KENTUCKY DERBY NEWS: Track all the 3-year-olds on the Triple Crown trail

“I ran him in that race last weekend instead of working him because I don’t have anybody in the barn to go with him,” said Biancone. “I thought he ran well following those two sprinters around and if everything goes as planned he should run a huge race next weekend.”

Biancone’s long-range goal for Bowman’s Causeway during the first half of the season remains the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine but he still hasn’t ruled out a shot at the Kentucky Derby if the horse gives a big performance here next Sunday.

“All the 3-year-olds run very close to each other except Uncle Mo,” said Biancone. “Nobody can match with Todd’s horse at the moment but who is the one who is going to improve over the next few weeks? That’s the question. This has been the plan for our horse all along. He’s kind of laid back and has gotten the experience and I’m hoping he’s going to jump out of the box at just the right time.”

While Bowman’s Causeway now appears to be definitely in the Florida Derby, it seems Flashpoint is out. At least for the time being. Trainer Rick Dutrow said the seven-furlong Swale on the Florida Derby undercard will be next for the undefeated Flashpoint. On Thursday, Flashpoint breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60.

“The only way he’ll run in the Florida Derby is if the owner changes his mind but he’s said all along he wants to run in the Swale,” said Dutrow.

Flashpoint is owned by John Fort’s Peachtree Stable.

A field of six is now definite for the Florida Derby and along with Bowman’s Causeway figures to include Dialed In, Arch Traveler, Soldat, Stay Thirsty, and To Honor and Serve. Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go, who worked five furlongs in 1:02.20 on Wednesday at Tampa Bay Downs, remains probable for the race.

Belle Watling gets a shot at Rampart

Biancone also confirmed Friday that Belle Watling, the Chilean wonder filly who has been a disappointment in two local starts since coming to the U.S. earlier this winter, will return next Saturday in the Grade 3 Rampart. Belle Watling worked five furlongs in 1:00.18 with her regular rider from Chile, Hector Berrios, aboard.

Belle Watling finished fourth after setting a very slow pace in the Grade 3 The Very One to launch her U.S. campaign and tired to be a distant third behind Amazing when switched back to dirt in an optional claiming race earlier this month.

“She knocked herself in the gate and cut her nose last time,” said Biancone. “She was bleeding pretty badly and choked a little from the blood. She’s coming along, it usually takes four to six months for horses from South American to acclimate, and she’s been here just about four months now.”

Biancone said Berrios, who won 13 races aboard Belle Watling, including several Group 1 races in Chile, will be back aboard for the Rampart.

S.S. Stone steps up for Skip Away

S.S. Stone, who has already won three races here this winter for trainer Nick Zito, will step into stakes company for the second time in his career in Sunday’s Grade 3 Skip Away. S.S. Stone has won his three starts by a combined 18 lengths, beginning with a $20,000 conditioned claiming race on opening day.

“He’s cut out to be something special but he’s had nothing but troubles after troubles and tons of physical problems,” said Zito. “Fortunately nobody claimed him for the $20,000. I’m very partial to him for several reasons since he’s owned by Mr. {Robert] LaPenta, is by Birdstone, and was bred by Mrs. [Marylou} Whitney.”

Zito also reported that Heron Lake, who defeated among others Arch Traveler when a game debut winner here earlier this winter, popped a splint for the second time and has been stopped on for the time being.

◗ Reynaldo Nobles, who in his heyday trained both Deputy Minister and his son Dehere, sent out Extract to win Friday’s second race. The victory was the first for Nobles, the leading trainer at Gulfstream Park in 1983, since 2004 at Delaware Park. Nobles worked as a security guard at the Palm Meadows stable gate last winter.