03/03/2012 2:14PM

Gulfstream: Battle Hardened in fighting shape for Tampa Bay Derby

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Tom Cooley
Battle Hardened, with Julien Leparoux riding, wins the Sam F. Davis.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Battle Hardened, who broke his maiden in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes, will take his next big step on the Kentucky Derby trail next Saturday when he returns to Tampa Bay Downs for the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby. Trainer Eddie Kenneally put the finishing touches on his preparations for the race by sending Battle Hardened out to breeze an easy five furlongs in 1:01.80 seconds before sunrise on Saturday at Palm Meadows, going in company with stablemate Force de La Nature.

“He worked really well, he’s ready to go,” said trainer Eddie Kenneally by phone from New York, where he had flown later Saturday morning to saddle Maan in the Gotham. “He’s improving and maturing all the time. He’s getting better, and I’m extremely happy with how he’s trained since the Sam Davis. Right now we have no plans beyond the Tampa Bay Derby. We’ll just see how he runs and go from there.”