12/27/2012 4:08PM

Gulfstream Park: Carroll figuring best course for pair of Derby hopefuls

Michael Burns
Avie's Quality closes out his juvenile season by winning the Display at Woodbine. He could begin 2013 in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream or the Lecomte at Fair Grounds.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Like all trainers fortunate to have Kentucky Derby prospects in their barn this winter, Josie Carroll will spend plenty of time over the next few months plotting the best course to get her top 3-year-olds – Tesseron and Avie’s Quality – to the big dance. That task becomes even more daunting this season due to the new points system being employed to determine the top 20 qualifiers for the Derby field.

“They revised the system and we all have to look at it a little differently,” said Carroll. “I’m not sure if the few points we’ve got to date really mean anything. Or if you’re better off running in the 50-point races and getting points early this winter or waiting for the 100-point races later on. We’re just going to have to explore things as we go along, but it’s a really nice problem to have.”

Tesseron finished second in Woodbine’s Grade 3 Grey Stakes in his second start before capping off his 2-year-old campaign finishing a late-running fourth making his first start on dirt in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. A son of Tapit, Tesseron worked a bullet five furlongs in 59.71 seconds at Palm Meadows on Thursday.

“He went a little quicker than we planned,” Carroll said. “I was hoping for 1:01, but he’s such a big-striding, easy-moving kind of horse and he’s really taken to that track at Palm Meadows. I thought his last race was really positive since it was his first start on dirt and he learned a lot out of it. It’s the kind of experience we needed to give him if we want to move forward in the better races this winter.”

Avie’s Quality has won his last two starts, including the 1 1/16-mile Display Stakes at Woodbine earlier this month to close out his juvenile campaign.

“Avie’s Quality has never run on dirt but he seems to be taking to it well at Palm Meadows,” said Carroll. “He also has a half-sister who was Grade 3 placed on dirt and another sister who won on dirt at the Fair Grounds for whatever that might mean.”

Carroll did not nominate either Tesseron or Avie’s Quality to Tuesday’s Gulfstream Park Derby, the first major 3-year-old stakes of the meet. Carroll said she is considering either the Grade 3 Holy Bull here on Jan. 26 or the Grade 3 Lecomte at Fair Grounds one week earlier for both horses’ next start.

Carroll also has her 2011 Queen’s Plate winner Inglorious at Palm Meadows for the winter. Inglorious closed out the year finishing third in Hollywood Park’s Grade 2 Bayakoa Handicap three weeks ago.

“She ran a great race over the synthetic surface in California, and I think that’s what she does best,” said Carroll. “She also ran well on the grass this year, so at the moment we’re exploring our options for her, although whatever we decide, she’ll be lightly raced this winter.”