12/29/2011 5:18PM

Gulfstream Derby draws well-connected Casual Trick

Adam Coglianese
Ancient Rome, narrow winner of the Spectacular Bid, is among 11 entered for Sunday's inaugural Gulfstream Park Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Dialed In was the king of the local 3-year-old division last winter, winning both the Grade 3 Holy Bull and Grade 1 Florida Derby for owner Bob LaPenta and trainer Nick Zito. LaPenta and Zito are hoping history will repeat itself in 2012 with their latest 3-year-old prospect, Casual Trick, who makes his stakes debut against 10 rivals in Sunday’s inaugural edition of the Gulfstream Park Derby.

Casual Trick brought $425,000 as a yearling at the 2010 Keeneland September sale. A son of Bernardini, Casual Trick made only two starts at 2. He began his career in one of the top maiden races of the Saratoga meeting, finishing fifth behind the well- meant Fire On Ice after pressing the pace into the stretch. He returned nearly two months later to earn his diploma at Churchill Downs, stretching out to a mile to register a 21/2-length victory in his last start at 2.

“You always think they’re ready to go in their first start but they’re not always cranked 100 percent and we also ran into a very tough horse that day at Saratoga,” said Zito, referring to Fire On Ice. “When we stretched him out for his second start I thought he answered the bell pretty well. Now we’re asking him to do something more again. One good thing is that he trains very well, he’s very good that way, and he’s got the breeding to go on.”

Casual Trick will face a lineup that includes Ancient Roman, winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes here on opening day, as well as four other 3-year-olds who are already multiple winners.

“What he lacks in experience he has to make up with ability and one thing I do know about this horse, he’s got a lot of talent,” said Zito. “We drew a good post and we’ve got Johnny and that’s good too.”

Zito was referring to jockey John Velazquez, who will ride Casual Trick for the first time in the Gulfstream Park Derby.

“We were in a similar position coming down here last winter with Dialed In but he’s just an exceptional horse,” said Zito. “I just hope lightning can strike for us again.”

As for Dialed In, Zito continues to bide his time bringing the reigning Florida Derby champ back from surgery to remove a chip from his knee performed this past June. Dialed In has not started since finishing fourth in the Preakness.

“He just had his first work since he’s been back to the track and I’m in no big rush,” said Zito. “He looks terrific, has a lot of miles on him galloping, and I’m sure he’ll make one start at Gulfstream although I have nothing specific picked out for him at the moment.”

Zito also has another prospect for this year’s handicap division, S.S. Stone, back in training following a long layoff. S S Stone, who has not started since winning the Grade 3 Skip Away here last spring, had his second work on the comeback trail Thursday at Palm Meadows, going an easy half mile in 49.88 seconds.

“He’s an incredible horse but like Dialed In, we’re in no hurry although I expect to have him back to run sometime during this meet.” said Zito.

The 11-horse field for the Gulfstream Park Derby is the largest to run in a 1 1/16-mile race since that distance was added this season. Ancient Rome, the likely favorite, will break from post 7 while Gold Megillah, who exits an incredible 18 1/2-length maiden tally at Churchill Downs, drew post 3. Those who did not fare so well at the draw were Ravelo’s Boy (post 9), Rex’s Last Tour (post 10), and Yourhonorandglory (Post 11).

◗ The Gulfstream Park Derby will share top billing on Sunday’s card with the Grade 3 Old Hat for 3-year-old fillies. Say a Novena, a multiple stakes winner at 2 whose juvenile finale came in the Breeders’ Cup, the undefeated Quick Flip, and impressive maiden winner Sacristy top the eight-horse lineup that also includes Soft Whisper, Sabrina’s Dance, Bet to Win, Awesome Belle, and Yara.

◗ Ice Cream Man, who went to the sidelines after winning his only previous start here last winter, remained unbeaten when returning to register a victory in Thursday’s fourth race for trainer Todd Pletcher. Ice Cream Man, a son of Elusive Quality, is owned by James Scatuorchio.

Gulfstream Park Derby, Post Time: 4:45 ET Sunday

Purse: $100,000; 1 1/16 miles





ML Odds


King Kid

D. Romans

C. Lanerie




A. Bezara

F. Jara



Gold Megillah

H. Motion

E. Prado



Nachas and Joy

J. DiVito

R. Maragh



Casual Trick

N. Zito

J. Velasquez



Silver Menace

K. Ritvo

J. Castellano



Ancient Rome

A. Dutrow

J. Rocco, Jr.




W. Ward

E. Trujillo



Ravelo's Boy

M. Azpurua

J. Sanchez



Rex's Last Tour

B. Rose

D. Centeno




J. Servis

K. Carmouche