02/28/2008 1:00AM

Next batch of Derby prospects ready to roll


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While many of the top 3-year-olds wintering in south Florida ran here Sunday, including Kentucky Derby favorite War Pass, there is still no shortage of Derby hopefuls waiting in the wings. Several of them will compete in Sunday's third race, going 1 1/8 miles under second-level allowance conditions.

Hey Byrn, who earned a 97 Beyer Speed Figure dominating first-level allowance competition by better than 14 lengths in his 3-year-old debut on Feb. 10, will likely be favored despite stretching out to nine furlongs for the first time in his career. He'll face a field that includes Zayat Stable's undefeated Alaazo, impressive maiden winner Sleuse, and the Nick Zito-trained pair of Bordeaux Bandit and Aquarian, both of whom were also entered in an entry-level allowance on Saturday.

Eddie Plesa Jr. trains Hey Byrn for owner Bea Oxenberg.

"Hopefully he'll run well again," Plesa said, "and if he does we'll be using this race as a prep for the Florida Derby."

Alaazo, a son of A.P Indy, is the only member of the field with a win at the distance, having defeated first-level allowance rivals by 3 1/2 widening lengths going 1 1/8 miles on Feb. 4 in his 3-year-old debut.

Like both Bordeaux Bandit and Aquarian, Sleuse will be skipping a condition, having just won his maiden on Feb. 1. The son of Grand Slam withstood a race-long speed duel before edging away to a five-length victory while covering seven furlongs in 1:21.77, just 0.66 second off the course record set by Exclusive Quality nearly two years earlier.

Plans for two Pletcher 3-year-olds

Sleuse is trained by Todd Pletcher, who has also has mapped out tentative plans for two of his other leading 3-year-old prospects, Atoned and Face the Cat.

Pletcher said Atoned will run in the Tampa Bay Derby, while Face the Cat is possible for the Rebel at Oaklawn. Both will be run March 15.

Atoned and Face the Cat worked five furlongs in company in 1:01 at Palm Beach Downs on Sunday.

Atoned has not started since finishing second, beaten a neck by Court Vision, following an extremely eventful trip in the Remsen. The son of Repent won 2 of 7 starts at 2, including Monmouth Park's Continental Mile.

"He spent some time in Aiken for a freshening after the Remsen," said Pletcher, who trains Atoned for Cot Campbell's Dogwood Stable. "He wintered well and is an improved horse - bigger, stronger, and training better than he ever has."

Atoned will likely face War Pass, the undefeated Eclipse Award winner, in the Tampa Bay Derby.

"Tampa has been in our plans all along," said Pletcher. "You have to pick a spot to run, and can't always choose who you'll run against."

Stakes next for B B Frank

Another recent 3-year-old allowance winner, B B Frank, will make his next start either in the Tampa Bay Derby or Grade 1 Florida Derby here on March 29.

"I'm going to nominate him to both the Tampa and Florida derbies," said trainer Amy Tarrant. "I'll take a look at the race at Tampa to see who's going in there, although right now I'm leaning towards staying here for the Florida Derby since he's shown me he likes this track. I know I tend to get a little ambitious placing my horses, but this is the time to find out just what we've got with this horse."

B B Frank drew off to a 2 3/4-length first-level allowance win while making his first start since being haltered for $62,500 earlier in the meet.

Saratoga Russell works for Gotham

Another locally based 3-year-old with potential Derby aspirations, Saratoga Russell, continues to train forwardly for his anticipated stakes debut, which is likely to come in the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct on March 9.

Saratoga Russell, an easy entry-level allowance winner for trainer Rick Violette earlier in the session, worked six furlongs in 1:12.80 at Palm Meadows on Thursday.

Davona Dale draws solid field of six

A very talented field of six 3-year-old fillies was drawn Thursday for Sunday's Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, a one-mile prep for the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on March 29.

The Davona Dale will bring together Game Face, runaway winner of the Grade 2 Old Hat on Jan. 12; Bsharpsonata, heroine of the Grade 2 Forward Gal on Feb. 9; American County, wire-to-wire winner of the Sunshine Million Oaks; the undefeated Informed Decision; the highly regarded J Z Warrior; and the Sunshine Millions Oaks runner-up Robbie's Gal.