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Injury idles Powerful Touch
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Powerful Touch, who finished just a head behind Offlee Wild in last month's Holy Bull Stakes, on Wednesday earned the dubious distinction of being one of the first significant 3-year-olds to drop out of this year's Kentucky Derby chase because of an injury.
Powerful Touch has been favoring his right front foot, and according to trainer Ken McPeek, X-rays showed something suspicious in the right leg's pastern. So, Powerful Touch has been taken out of training, and will be off for approximately two months before starting again.
"We're not going to go forward with him," McPeek said at his Gulfstream Park barn Wednesday morning. "He came out of the Holy Bull fine, but after galloping for about a week, he was tender in his right front foot. We're not sure if it's the foot - or if it's what we found on the X-ray - that's the reason for him being off.
"Regardless, we want to take a conservative approach. We don't want to guess at what it is. We don't want to mess him up. We decided that the conservative course is best, especially if we want to have a future with this horse. But that's probably going to keep him off the Kentucky Derby trail, because he's going to need 60 days off."
Powerful Touch, a son of Touch Gold who was bred and is owned by Frank Stronach, has won twice in four starts. Both of his victories, against maidens and first-level allowance runners, came last fall at Aqueduct. He will spend his time off at Stronach's farm in Ocala, Fla.
McPeek said he phoned John Asher, a vice president at Churchill Downs who helps compile the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, to inform him of the decision. Pool One of the future wager is next week.
"I think you've got to look out for the public," McPeek said.
A year ago, McPeek was readying Harlan's Holiday, Repent, and Sarava for the spring classics. With Powerful Touch out, his best chance now lays with Ten Cents a Shine, who finished in a dead heat for first with Senor Swinger in an allowance race here on Jan. 31.
McPeek said Ten Cents a Shine is possible for the Feb. 15 Fountain of Youth Stakes, which will be headed by Offlee Wild and Trust N Luck.
"I'm not going to decide on whether to run in the Fountain of Youth until Tuesday," McPeek said. "He's going to work on Monday with Jerry Bailey. I'm trying to figure out if more racing will help or hinder him."
Repent aiming for spring return
Repent, who has not raced since the Jockey Club Gold Cup, is still "about 10 days away from his first work," according to McPeek.
"He rapped a tendon in the Gold Cup," McPeek said. "Originally, we were worried it was bowed, but it's not. Over the course of time it scanned clean, and it looks 100 percent. We didn't want to go into the Breeders' Cup Classic guessing. It was better to be safe than sorry."
Repent won last year's Louisiana Derby, was second to War Emblem in the Illinois Derby, and finished second to Medaglia d'Oro in the Travers Stakes.
Trust N Luck works between races
Trust N Luck passed his final test for the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth by working five furlongs in 59.80 seconds between the fifth and sixth races here Wednesday. Regular rider Cornelio Velasquez was aboard for the work.
Trust N Luck, who is based at Calder, posted the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2-year-old in the country last year when he earned a 110 for his 11-length victory in Calder's In Reality Stakes. In his Wednesday work he set fractions of 11:60, 23.60, 35.60, and 47.80 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:12.80, according to Daily Racing Form.
"I was very pleased," said trainer Ralph Ziadie after discussing the work with Velasquez. "I was looking for about 1:01. The main thing was he galloped out good and seemed to handle the track well. That was my major objective for bringing him over here today."
Trust N Luck is one of only a handful of 3-year-olds listed as confirmed starters for the Fountain of Youth and will likely vie for favoritism with Offlee Wild, winner of the Holy Bull Stakes.
Two other potential Fountain of Youth candidates, Spite the Devil and Funny Cide, worked during regular training hours on Wednesday.
Spite the Devil breezed an easy six furlongs in 1:14.60 at Gulfstream, while Funny Cide worked a half-mile in 48.80 at the Palm Meadows training facility.
Krieger tunes up on turf
Krieger, who finished second to Point Prince after setting the pace in the one-mile Appleton Handicap earlier in the meet, worked a half-mile in 48.40 around the dogs here Wednesday morning for trainer Joe Orseno.
"I thought his work was excellent," said Orseno, who trains Krieger for the Stronach Stable. "He got beat a tough one in the Appleton. Right now, I'm pointing him for the Canadian Turf Handicap on March 9, although I'd like to get another race into him in between."
Krieger won Calder's Grade 3 Tropical Turf Handicap at 1 1/8 miles to close out his 2002 campaign, and Orseno thinks the the colt is more effective at distances beyond a mile. The Canadian Turf is 1 1/16 miles.
First Blush breezed an easy six furlongs in 1:20 here Wednesday. First Blush upset the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes on opening day of the meet and trainer Alan Jerkens said he is planning on wheeling him back in the Grade 2 Hutcheson on Feb. 15.
McGee to run only Deer Lake
Trainer Paul McGee has decided to run just Deer Lake in Sunday's $100,000 Deputy Minister Handicap and take Dream Run to Maryland for the General George Handicap at Laurel Park on Feb. 17.
"The General George is seven-eighths, and I think that fits Dream Run to a 'T,'" McGee said.
The 6 1/2-furlong Deputy Minister will be the 2003 debut of Gygistar, one of the nation's leading sprinters last year.
* Softly, who will take on Allamerican Bertie in Saturday's $100,000 Sabin Handicap, breezed four furlongs in 49.40 on Wednesday morning for trainer Carl Nafzger. Softly most recently finished third behind Allamerican Bertie in the Falls City Handicap at Churchill Downs on Nov. 28.
* Storm Flag Flying, last year's champion 2-year-old filly, breezed four furlongs in 51 seconds Tuesday at the Payson Park training center. Shug McGaughey, her trainer, said Storm Flag Flying might make her first start of the year in Gulfstream's $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes, at seven furlongs, on March 14. "She'll be ready in about six weeks or so," McGaughey said.
* Take Charge Lady is being pointed for the April 5 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park, McPeek said. Take Charge Lady, who has not raced since the Great State Challenge in December, had an easy canter on Wednesday under exercise rider Helen Pitts.
- additional reporting by Mike Welsch