01/14/2012 1:23PM

Gulfstream: Top 3-year-old prospect Ever So Lucky ships in for Sheppard

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Ever So Lucky, who has been training in Camden, S.C., will target the Hutcheson at Gulfstream Park for his 3-year-old debut.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The 3-year-old division at Gulfstream Park will get even stronger this week with the expected arrival of Ever So Lucky, Hall of Fame trainer Jonathan Sheppard’s Kentucky Derby prospect, who has been training on the farm in Camden, S.C., over the last several weeks.

Sheppard planned to fly out after the races on Saturday to oversee Ever So Lucky’s third and final workout on the farm, scheduled for five furlongs, on Sunday morning.

“He’s already had two half-mile works in Camden and really went out 4 1/2 furlongs the last time,” Sheppard said at the end of training hours here Saturday. “He’ll probably go five furlongs on Sunday and if all is well we’ll bring him down here later this week.”

Ever So Lucky popped up on just about everybody’s 2-year-olds-to-watch list after his sensational debut at Churchill Downs on Nov. 11, when he cruised to an easy 3 1/4-length victory going six furlongs. A son of Indian Charlie, Ever So Lucky came back just 15 days later to finish second behind the still undefeated Gemologist stretching out to 1 1/16 miles in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club.

Sheppard said Ever So Lucky came out of the Kentucky Jockey Club with a little heat in his front leg and was sent to the New Bolton Center in southeastern Pennsylvania, where he was diagnosed with some minor bone bruising.

“We backed off him for a couple of weeks but he’s doing fine now,” said Sheppard. “He’s already been two turns so if everything continues to go well I’d like to bring him back at seven furlongs in the Hutcheson.”

The Grade 2 Hutcheson will be run on Feb. 11.

Hansen works five furlongs

The top 3-year-old currently stabled on the grounds at Gulfstream Park, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen, continues to progress towards his 2012 debut, which is scheduled to come in the one-mile Holy Bull on Jan. 29. Working in the dark, as usual, almost immediately after the track opened at 5:45 a.m. and with the wind blowing briskly out of the north, Hansen went five furlongs in 1:01.10. Hansen broke three lengths behind stablemate Big John B. and finished a length in front, galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 and seven-eighths in 1:29.84.

“It was a good work,” said trainer Mike Maker. “He loves the cold weather and I hope it stays this way as long as possible for him. I’ll bring him back next Saturday with pretty much the same kind of work and at the moment we’re on schedule for the Holy Bull. After that, I’m not 100 per cent certain where we’ll go with him although we came down here with the mindset of running in the Florida Derby preps and that’s probably the plan we’ll stick to.”

Maker plans to be in attendance at Monday night’s Eclipse Award ceremonies in California, where he hopes Hansen will be crowned Juvenile champion for 2011.

“Obviously I’m biased but I believe it’s hard to vote against an undefeated 2-year-old who won the Breeders’ Cup,” said Maker. “Naturally we’ll be disappointed if he doesn’t win but if he doesn’t, life will go on.”

Redeemed tunes up for Donn

Other prominent workers on a crisp Saturday morning at Gulfstream included Redeemed, who went five furlongs in 1:01.36 and galloped out six furlongs in 1:16 for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.; Dullahan, who went five-eighths to the mile pole in 1:01.43, and Force Freeze, who cruised an easy half-mile in :49.40 as one of the last horses to work over a dry and somewhat cuppy main track.

Redeemed remains on target for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 11, Dullahan is expected to make his 3-year-old debut on grass in the Palm Beach on March 11, and Breeders’ Cup Sprint runner-up Force Freeze could return in the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship on Feb. 18.

Ruler On Ice records bullet workout

Belmont Stakes winner Ruler On Ice continues to sizzle in preparation for his 2012 debut in the Donn, zipping a half-mile in 47.06 seconds, the fastest of 69 recorded works at the distance Saturday morning at Palm Meadows.

Saturday’s Palm Meadows tab also included such notables as Adios Charlie, five-eighths in 1:02.03 for the Florida Sunshine Millions Classic ,and the undefeated Awesome Feather, five furlongs in 1:01.88 in preparation for the Sunshine Millions Distaff.

◗ There will be live racing here on Monday, regularly a dark day, with the 10-race program highlighted by a second-level allowance for fillies and mares going five furlongs on the grass. The turf sprint drew a full field of 12, led by recent claiming winner Lady Rizzi.