03/28/2011 3:00PM

Florida Derby preparations going down to wire

Barbara D. Livingston
Bowman's Causeway wins his maiden race at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – With three major contenders having turned in their final major Florida Derby preps on Sunday, the outsiders Bowman’s Causeway and Arch Traveler worked on Monday for Sunday’s $1 million race.

Bowman’s Causeway breezed an easy half-mile in 49.34 seconds at Gulfstream Park, and Arch Traveler went five-eighths in 1:01.30 up the turnpike at the Palm Meadows training center.

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

Bowman’s Causeway broke off approximately two lengths in front of stablemate Catalan, but they were on even terms when they arrived at the finish line.

  “I put him in front of the other horse because he’s a lazy horse and he needs someone to push him a bit in his work,” trainer Patrick Biancone explained. “This wasn’t a big event, just a little blowout.”

Bowman’s Causeway has captured 1 of 5 starts, a nine-furlong maiden special weight race here earlier in the meet. He finished a troubled and distant fourth behind Soldat in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.

Arch Traveler has not started since winning a nine-furlong entry-level allowance race for trainer Jimmy Jerkens on Feb. 26, his second consecutive victory here this winter.

Soldat, Stay Thirsty, and To Honor and Serve all worked on Sunday. At Palm Meadows, Fountain of Youth winner Soldat worked five furlongs in 1:01.01, while Gotham winner Stay Thirsty covered the same distance in 1:02.01 in company with stablemate Colizeo. To Honor and Serve, third in the Fountain of Youth in his 3-year-old debut, worked a bullet half-mile in 49 seconds at Payson Park the same morning for trainer Bill Mott.

As of Monday, only six 3-year-olds remained definite for the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. They are Soldat, Holy Bull winner Dialed In, Stay Thirsty, multiple Grade 2 winner To Honor and Serve, Bowman’s Causeway, and Arch Traveler. Trainer Kathleen O’Connell said on Sunday that a decision on Tampa Bay Derby winner Watch Me Go’s status for the Florida Derby would be made on Tuesday.

Entries for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will be drawn on Thursday.

Zip Quick wins in return

Biancone expressed his pleasure over the performance here Sunday of Zip Quik, who returned from an absence of nearly 17 months to win a five-furlong, entry-level allowance dash on the turf. Zip Quik, who finished second in both the Grade 3 Hollywood Juvenile and Grade 2 Saratoga Special at 2, had not raced since the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.

“He was a very good 2-year-old, but he got a chip in his knee in the Breeders’ Cup,” said Biancone. “We removed the chip but then he had complications and nearly foundered. It took a year to rebuild his foot, and he’s been with me in training here since December. I thought he might be a little short for his first start back, but when they have quality they can overcome that.”

Biancone said Zip Quik, a New York-bred, would like be pointed for statebred grass stakes later in the year.

Amazing headed to Charles Town

As expected, trainer Marty Wolfson scratched Amazing out of Sunday’s Ocala Stakes, but not to await Saturday’s Grade 2 Rampart as many thought. Instead, Wolfson will send Amazing to Charles Town for the $250,000 Sugar Maple Stakes at seven furlongs on April 16.

“The Rampart is coming up pretty tough with Awesome Maria and possibly Unrivaled Belle,” said Wolfson.

Amazing defeated allowance horses here earlier this month following a game second-place finish behind Evening Jewel to open her season in the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

Wolfson also said he plans to send Indiano, a very promising second behind the odds-on Escort in his U.S. debut here on March 20, to Aqueduct for the Grade 2 Jerome at a mile on April 23. Indiano, a 3-year-old Kentucky-bred son of Indian Charlie, began his career in Panama, where he won all five of his starts by a combined margin of more than 31 lengths.

“I loved his race last week,” said Wolfson. “It was at six furlongs which is a little too short for him. If it was six and one-Half, he’d have won by a couple of lengths. I’m not sure if he’ll go two turns, but up to a mile I think he can be very good.”

The Jerome could also be next on the agenda for Cal Nation, according to trainer Todd Pletcher. Cal Nation was narrowly defeated by stable mate Dance City in a one-mile allowance race here on March 19 following a sensational debut win six weeks earlier.

◗ The Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association last week voted Sam Gordon to serve his record seventh term as president of the organization. The Board also elected trainers Phil Combest and Barry Rose and owner Teresa Palmer as Vice Presidents. Rose was also appointed Treasurer with Bill Kaplan elected as Secretary.

◗ The carryover in the ten-cent Rainbow Pick 6 will be $712,337. To take down the jackpot, a bettor must have the only winning ticket on a given day.

◗ Gulfstream Park will open a rooftop lounge equipped with an open bar, betting terminals, four 42-inch plasma televisions, eclectic cuisine, and a DJ over Florida Derby weekend. The lounge, located on the roof atop the fourth floor of the grandstand, will have limited seating with tickets priced at $175 per person on Saturday, April 2, and $250 per person on Florida Derby day.