03/16/2013 2:29PM

Gulfstream Park: Frac Daddy targets Grade 1 Florida Derby

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Barbara D. Livingston
Frac Daddy likely will run in the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30 if his throat ulcer has healed sufficiently.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The field for the $1 million Florida Derby is starting to grow.

On Saturday, trainer Ken McPeek added Frac Daddy’s name to the short list of 3-year-olds pointing for the Grade 1 Florida Derby on March 30. He announced the decision after watching Frac Daddy work five furlongs in 1:00.82 in company with his 3-year-old filly stablemate Pure Fun, a Grade 1 winner.

With jockey Corey Lanerie aboard, Frac Daddy and Pure Fun posted splits of 24.40 seconds and 36.60, then finished with something left in the tank, with Frac Daddy about a half-length the best at the wire. The pair galloped out six furlongs in 1:14.24.

“It was a super work,” McPeek said afterward. “Basically, a 12’s work. I wanted to slow them down this morning after they went entirely too fast together the previous week.”

Frac Daddy and Pure Fun had worked five furlongs in 58.47 seconds and galloped out three-quarters of a mile in 1:12.52 eight days earlier.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Frac Daddy, the runner-up in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club in his 2-year-old finale, opened his 3-year-old campaign with a sixth-place finish in the Grade 3 Holy Bull, after which it was discovered he had badly grabbed a quarter during the race. Two weeks later, he was diagnosed with a throat ulcer.

McPeek originally had planned to bring Frac Daddy back next weekend in Turfway Park’s Spiral, but it now appears that the Florida Derby will be his next objective.

“The Florida Derby gives us an extra week for the ulcer to heal, and it sounds like it’s going to be a relatively short field,” McPeek said. “He’s been training over this track right along, and by staying here, it will also give us the opportunity to school him a little more.”

McPeek said Lanerie will ride Frac Daddy if he runs in the Florida Derby.

Pure Fun, the winner of the Grade  1 Hollywood Starlet to cap off her 2-year-old campaign, remains on target to open her 3-year-old season Saturday in Turfway’s Bourbonette.

McPeek also said that Java’s War, the runner-up behind the odds-on Verrazano in last Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby, would make his next start in the Grade 1 Blue Grass on April 13 at Keeneland.

“We contemplated taking him to Dubai for the UAE Derby, but after pow-wowing with the owner earlier this week, we made the decision to keep him here and go to the Blue Grass,” McPeek said. “His pedigree is strictly turf on the female side, so I think he should like the synthetic surface.”

McPeek had a busy morning Saturday, also sending out Travers winner Golden Ticket to breeze an easy half-mile in 49.93 with Lanerie up after the second renovation break. Golden Ticket likely will make his next start in the Grade 3 Skip Away here March 30.

Itsmyluckyday, who will vie with Shanghai Bobby and Orb for favoritism in the Florida Derby, worked five furlongs in 1:01 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:14 with jockey Elvis Trujillo aboard Saturday at Calder.

“He worked great for Elvis,” trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with him. We’re coasting from here.”

* Breeders’ Cup Classic winner Fort Larned galloped over the main track Saturday at Palm Meadows for the first time since stumbling badly and losing his rider moments after the start of the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap one week earlier.

“He jogged yesterday, galloped today, and right now, he appears to be fine,” said Carl Nafzger, trainer Ian Wilkes’s former boss and mentor, who stables with Wilkes at Palm Meadows.

Wilkes said earlier this week that Fort Larned would be nominated to the Skip Away.