03/14/2010 11:00PM

Dutrow sitting pretty with power trio


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - After watching a bevy of his stakes horses train Monday morning at Gulfstream Park, trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. summed up his mood thusly: "I feel good about a lot of things right now."

Dutrow will be represented in three major stakes at Gulfstream Park this Saturday, including the marquee event, the $750,000 Florida Derby, in which he will run the intriguing Radiohead against Fountain of Youth winner and leading Kentucky Derby candidate Eskendereya. Dutrow will also be represented in the Grade 2 Swale with D' Funnybone and the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss with Amen Hallelujah, both of whom figure to be favored.

All three of those horses breezed Monday. Radiohead, who made a smashing dirt debut on Feb. 27 with a 3 1/4-length allowance victory going one mile, worked five furlongs in 1:10.81 over Gulfstream's turf course. While the time was extremely slow, one must take into account that Gulfstream officials had the orange traffic cones so far out that horses were breezing beyond the crown of the turf course.

Radiohead was going at such an accelerated pace around the far turn that exercise rider Michelle Nevin allowed him to go next to the outside rail in the stretch as he finished the breeze.

"He kept shying away from the cone," Nevin said. "He was going too fast on the turf . . . he just wants to go, go, go. He's very strong."

Radiohead earned a career-best 94 Beyer in his last start. It is not Dutrow's preference to run Radiohead back in three weeks off a top-figure race, but he does like the six weeks between the Florida Derby and the Kentucky Derby, which is the ultimate objective.

"That's why we're doing it," said Dutrow, who in 2008 won the Florida Derby with Big Brown, who came back five weeks later to win the Kentucky Derby. IEAH Stables, owners of Big Brown, also own Radiohead.

Dutrow said he opted to work Radiohead - as well as the 3-year-old filly Amen Hallelujah - on the turf because "grass is easier on the horses."

Entries for the Florida Derby close Wednesday morning, but post positions will not be drawn until 5:30 p.m. at a cocktail party in Gulfstream's MI-VI restaurant.

The field for the Florida Derby remained somewhat in flux Monday. Besides Eskendereya and Radiohead, others confirmed for the race include the Fountain of Youth's fourth-, fifth- and sixth-place finishers - Pleasant Prince, Ice Box, and Pulsion - as well as First Dude, Game on Dude and Soaring Empire. Best Actor is also likely.

On Monday, the connections of the multiple stakes winner Rule and Lentenor - the 3-year-old full brother to 2006 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro - expressed interest in the Florida Derby. Rule has won four straight, including the Sam F. Davis at Tampa. Lentenor, who worked five furlongs in 1:00 under Alan Garcia Monday at Palm Meadows, has yet to run on dirt.

Meanwhile, Dutrow used the Gulfstream Park turf course Monday for Amen Hallelujah's final tune-up for the Bonnie Miss. Under Julien Leparoux, she worked five furlongs in 1:06.32, again forced way out because of the traffic cones. While her campaign will keep Amen Hallelujah on the dirt for now, Dutrow is even more excited about the prospects of getting her on the turf.

"She's a freak on the grass," he said. "She'll win a Grade 1 on the turf when all is said and done."

The Bonnie Miss, a stepping-stone to the Kentucky Oaks, is also expected to attract Grade 1 winner Devil May Care and the promising Christine Daae, who is 2 for 2 at Gulfstream.

D' Funnybone, the likely favorite for Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Swale Stakes, worked five furlongs on the dirt in 1:00.11 under regular rider Edgar Prado. He is coming off a one-length victory in the Grade 2 Hutcheson here on Feb. 20.

"We're happy to have this race in front of us and happy to have him doing as well as he's doing for the race," Dutrow said.

Homeboykris training up to Kentucky Derby

Dutrow said his other top 3-year-old, Homeboykris, will train up to the Kentucky Derby. Winner of the Champagne Stakes last fall and third-place finisher in the Remsen, Homeboykris's only race this year was a second-place finish to Radiohead in a Feb. 27 allowance race.

"I'm not going to run him back until then because I'm afraid he'll blow his race," Dutrow said. "The first time we run him it was off a three-month break, and he ran huge."