03/16/2012 2:53PM

Gulfstream: Gemologist shines in return win

Bob Coglianese
Gemologist coasts to a seven-length victory under Javier Castellano in his 2012 debut, an allowance race at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Gemologist hadn’t raced in nearly four months, but it was hard to tell he had been away at all from the looks of his performance in his 3-year-old debut here Wednesday.

Gemologist kept his record unblemished with a convincing and very easy seven-length triumph over the previously undefeated Grade 1 winner Currency Swap going a mile under allowance conditions under jockey Javier Castellano in Wednesday’s third race. The one-sided victory thrust Gemologist, a son of Tiznow owned by WinStar Farm, right into the midst of the Kentucky Derby picture.

“That worked out really well for a comeback, I thought he ran super,” trainer Todd Pletcher said immediately after the race. “To run a mile in 1:35 and 4 over this track is excellent and he galloped out extremely well. From a conditioning standpoint, I thought he got exactly what we were hoping for out of this race.”

What Gemologist still needs to get is some more graded stakes earnings to make the Derby field. Gemologist is currently 25th on the list with the $103,855 he earned for his victory in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs in his 2-year-old finale.

Pletcher said neither he nor Elliott Walden, president, CEO, and racing manager for WinStar, had anything definite in mind for Gemologist’s final Derby prep just yet.

“We’ll see how he comes out of the race and then Elliott and I will sit down in a few days and discuss where he’ll go next,” said Pletcher. “You guys know all the options. It will be something, somewhere either on April 7 or April 14.”

Gemologist will attempt to follow in the footsteps of WinStar’s Super Saver, who won the 2010 Kentucky Derby. Super Saver also had only two preps at 3 before the Derby, the last coming in the Arkansas Derby.

Currency Swap was making his first start Wednesday since winning the Grade 1 Hopeful at Saratoga.

“He was fine, nice and relaxed. We just wanted him to lay off the other horse [Gemologist], and the pace was a little slow in the beginning,” said trainer Terri Pompay. “The other horse ran away from him a little bit, but he did everything we wanted. We got the race into him. We’ll see how he comes out of this race and then talk about his next start.”

Discreet Dancer to Louisiana Derby

Pletcher also confirmed Wednesday that Discreet Dancer, who finished a tiring third behind Union Rags in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, will make his next start in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby on April 1.

“If everything stays on course he’ll go to the Fair Grounds for the Louisiana Derby and El Padrino will stay here and run in the Florida Derby,” said Pletcher.

Discreet Dancer was an easy winner of his first two starts here earlier this winter before disappointing in the Fountain of Youth.

“The horse is training well,” said Pletcher. “I’m still a little stumped by his race in the Fountain of Youth.”

Battle Hardened a puzzler

Trainer Eddie Kenneally reports that Battle Hardened came out of his disappointing sixth-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby none the worse for wear, but his status on the Kentucky Derby trail remains up in the air at the present time.

“He had a wide trip but really had no excuse,” said Kenneally. “We’ll watch and monitor him over the next couple of weeks before making a decision on what to do next.”

Battle Hardened is currently 20th on the graded earnings list with $127,000, the majority earned for his maiden victory in the Grade 2 Sam Davis at Tampa earlier this winter.

Kenneally, who is in the midst of a big meet with 11 victories from only 41 starters, is excited about the prospects for his undefeated turf filly Dame Marie, who remained perfect with a game entry-level allowance win here Wednesday. Dame Marie, a 3-year-old daughter of Smart Strike, posted a similarly hard-fought maiden win when she launched her career here five weeks earlier.

“She had a wide trip and I thought ran a huge race the other day,” said Kenneally. “She’s a nice filly with the pedigree to suggest she can have a big future.

Kenneally said he is considering the Apalachian at Keeneland for Dame Marie’s next start.