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Eddington headed to one-mile Gotham
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Eddington, a 3-year-old who has won a pair of two-turn races this meet, is expected to cut back to a one-turn mile for his next start, the Grade 3, $200,000 Gotham at Aqueduct on March 20.
Mark Hennig, who trains Eddington for the Willmott Stables, said the Gotham would be an educational experience for Eddington, who has raced up close to soft paces in both of his wins down here.
"From an educational standpoint, win or lose, the Gotham may offer more experience, more of a chance to move forward and be 100 percent focused by the time we get to the big races,'' Hennig said. "We have the luxury in that we don't feel we have to answer the mile and an eighth question. A lot of times, this time of the year, that's what you're trying to find out.''
Eddington is a son of 1990 Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled out of the Chief's Crown mare Fashion Star, who was stakes-placed going long on turf. On Feb. 7, Eddington won a 1 1/16-mile maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths. Last Saturday, he won an entry-level allowance race at the same distance by 5 1/2 lengths. Eddington earned a career-best 101 Beyer Speed Figure for his most recent effort.
Hennig notes that the pace in a one-turn mile should be swifter than the races Eddington has run in at Gulfstream, and Hennig wants to see how Eddington reacts with a fast pace in front of him.
"They should be able to run away from him the first part,'' Hennig said. "Maybe he can't run them down going a mile, but it's not the end of the world. We'd hope he runs well, hope that he wins, but the Gotham can't be our goal.''
As of Wednesday, Hennig still needed a rider for Eddington. Jerry Bailey, who has ridden Eddington in his two victories here, is committed to ride Birdstone in the $500,000 Lane's End Stakes at Turfway Park that day.
Hennig said that if Eddington performed well in the Gotham, he most likely would stay in New York for the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial on April 10.
Eye Dazzler out of Bonnie Miss
Hennig reports that Eye Dazzler will miss Saturday's $200,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes due to an unspecified injury. Eye Dazzler would have been first or second choice in the Bonnie Miss coming out of a head loss to Miss Coronado in the Davona Dale last month.
Eye Dazzler worked five furlongs in 1:00.40 on Sunday, but did not come out of the work in good shape, Hennig said.
"We're still trying to confirm what's going on,'' Hennig said. "She didn't come out of that work very well; we'll continue to evaluate her and see what it is.''
With Eye Dazzler out, there were only four confirmed runners for the Bonnie Miss as of Wednesday: Society Selection, Last Song, Rare Gift, and Journey Fever. Quick Temper, Get Set, and Tiz a Dancer could start.
Wednesday, Journey Fever worked four furlongs in 48 seconds over Gulfstream's main track.
Mark Guidry replaces Jon Court, who has left for California.
Frankel intends to repeat pattern with 'David'
Last winter, trainer Bobby Frankel sent Empire Maker here from the West Coast to dominate the $1 million Florida Derby. Empire Maker went on to win the Wood, finish second in the Kentucky Derby, and ultimately end Funny Cide's Triple Crown dreams with a victory in the Belmont Stakes.
This winter, Frankel is again bringing his top Kentucky Derby and Triple Crown prospect, Master David, cross-country to compete in the Florida Derby. It sets up a rematch with Read the Footnotes, the horse who beat runner-up Master David in the Grade 2 Remsen last fall.
Frankel said trying to compare Master David to Empire Maker at this point of the season is like comparing apples to oranges.
"Right now I'd compare Master David more to Peace Rules," said Frankel.
Peace Rules finished third in the 2003 Kentucky Derby, won the Grade 1 Haskell, and last weekend captured the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap.
Frankel said he hopes to take the same route to Churchill Downs with Master David as he did a year ago with Empire Maker, using the Florida Derby and the Wood as his colt's final two preps for the Kentucky Derby.
"The Florida Derby is not only worth $1 million but it's also a good path to the Kentucky Derby," said Frankel. "This way I can run my horse a mile and one-eighth and not have to back him up in distance. And I really want to go in the Wood since he's already run well over that track."
Master David comes off perhaps his best career effort, a one-length victory in the 1 1/8-mile Sham Stakes at Santa Anita on Feb. 8. It was his second win in six career starts and second start since moving into Frankel's barn shortly after finishing 3 1/2 lengths behind Read the Footnotes in the Remsen.
"Read the Footnotes ran a great race and was very impressive in the Fountain of Youth," said Frankel. "But I can't worry about him. Right now I'm just worrying about my horse and hoping he runs a big race. The main objective at the moment is getting him to the Triple Crown."
Frankel, who sent Medaglia d'Oro and Miss Coronado here to capture the Donn Handicap and Davona Dale Stakes on Feb. 7, is looking for a similar sweep next weekend. He will also send out Sightseek as the slight favorite over Roar Emotion in the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap.
Multiple Choice targets Richter Scale
Jimmy Jerkens nominated three horses for Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Sprint Championship and has elected to go with Multiple Choice in the seven-furlong stakes.
Multiple Choice, who won back-to-back Grade 3 stakes in New York in late fall of 2002, finished last in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector Handicap on Jan. 3.
"He looked like he was all right going into the race, but he didn't run good,'' Jerkens said. "He didn't get sick, he got kind of dull, and it took a while to get him going. Lately, he's been doing good, though; his last two works have been good.''
Monday, Multiple Choice worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds, the second fastest of 31 at the distance. Only Canadian Triple Crown winner Wando worked faster.
There are six confirmed starters for the Richter Scale. With riders, and weight assignments, they are: Valid Video (Joe Bravo, 118), Gygistar (Jerry Bailey, 117), Lion Tamer (John Velazquez, 116), Coach Jimi Lee (Pat Day, 115), Multiple Choice (Jorge Chavez, 113), and Wacky for Love (Jose Santos, 113).
Jerkens also nominated Iron Deputy and Voodoo to the Richer Scale. Iron Deputy, who has not raced since August, is "not quite there yet,'' Jerkens said. Voodoo has been sent to the farm for a freshening. "He wasn't going sound,'' Jerkens said.
Improved work by Sir Oscar
Sir Oscar breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Calder on Wednesday in his next-to-last work for the Florida Derby.
"This was better than his last work," said trainer Marty Wolfson. "He went too quick last week."
Owner-breeder Oscar Novo moved Sir Oscar from trainer Manny Azpurua to Wolfson following his fifth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth. Sir Oscar bled in that race and will run on Lasix for the first time in the Florida Derby.
Meridiana seeks cleaner trip
Five of the nine entrants in Friday's featured $40,000 optional claiming turf race come out of the seventh race run here on Feb. 12. Meridiana, who finished fourth to Shot Gun Favorite that day, may have won that race with a cleaner trip.
Around the turn and for a good portion of the stretch drive, Meridiana was blocked behind a wall of horses. By the time Edgar Prado got her in the clear, it was too late and Meridiana fell a length short.
Perfect Energy, who finished second after setting the pace, figures once again to be on the lead, though Vanguardia, a front-running winner of a third-level allowance here on Feb. 5, should apply pressure. Cocktailsandreams and Sweettrickydancer are other contenders in here.
* Stall applications for the 2004 Calder meet are now available at the Calder racing office or can be requested by calling (800) 333-3227, ext. 3219. Horsemen can also obtain applications at the Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs racing offices. Deadline for filing applications is March 15. The 2004 Calder meeting runs from April 26 through Oct. 23.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch