04/08/2010 11:00PM

Eskendereya will work twice before Derby


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Todd Pletcher reports that Eskendereya is doing very well after his eye-catching performance in last Saturday's Grade 1 Wood Memorial and is back galloping over his winter base at the Palm Meadows training center.

"Visually, it sure looked like the race wouldn't have taken anything out of him, but sometimes you never can tell how a race like that might affect a horse," Pletcher said Thursday. "But so far everything seems good."

Pletcher said Eskendereya, who won the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here in similar fashion six weeks earlier, paired up career-best numbers of 2 3/4 on the Ragozin Sheets. He earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure for the Wood, 3 points better than the 106 he received in the Fountain of Youth.

Pletcher said Eskendereya would have two more workouts prior to the Derby. The first is scheduled for Sunday, April 18, at Palm Meadows and the last, weather permitting, the following Sunday at Churchill Downs. Eskendereya will depart south Florida for Kentucky on April 20.

Trujillo winning races in bunches

Jockey Elvis Trujillo posted a hat trick here Thursday and continues his climb toward the top of the local jockey standings.

Trujillo also won three races, all stakes, last Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. Two of those stakes victories came for trainer Marty Wolfson, for whom he also won Thursday's feature with the steadily improving 4-year-old Causeway's Kin.

Through Thursday's races, Trujillo was in third place in the Gulfstream standings with 47 wins, three behind Javier Castellano and 13 back of Paco Lopez.

"It's been a good meet so far," Trujillo said following Causeway's Kin's victory over a field that included the odds-on United States. "I also lost a lot of horses by going to Dubai to ride Presious Passion, but I had to go. He's my big horse and it was a $5 million race. Luckily a lot of trainers here have stood by me."

Trujillo is also eagerly awaiting next month's opening of Monmouth Park.

"They are giving away a lot of money there this year," said Trujillo, who ran away with the 2009 Monmouth jockey title with 129 wins last summer.

Speight of Hand tries grass in comeback

Speight of Hand and The Great McGee may vie for favoritism in Sunday's $48,000 feature carded at a mile on the turf under first-level allowance conditions.

Speight of Hand, a son of Speighstown, has not started since finishing third after setting a contested pace going seven furlongs at Saratoga on Aug. 9. Sunday's start will mark his first on grass, although he is bred to handle the surface.

The Great McGee continues to improve with every start and exits a game maiden win on the grass for which he earned a career-best 90 Beyer Speed Figure on March 20.

Merkabah, a gate-to-wire winner of his career debut over the grass here last month, also figures to receive a good deal of mutuel support in the wide-open race, which serves as the second leg of the all-turf pick four.