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Updated on 09/17/2011 2:10PM
Swale may turn up better than Florida Derby
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The way things are shaping up, the best race on Florida Derby day may be the Grade 3 Swale.
With Master David now out, Read the Footnotes figures to be an odds-on favorite in the $1 million Florida Derby. As of Saturday, only six horses were listed as definite for the Grade 1 race.
The Swale, a seven-furlong race, figures to draw a larger and much more competitive field, led by Kentucky Derby hopeful Eurosilver, multiple-graded-stakes-winner Chapel Royal, and Spectacular Bid winner Wynn Dot Comma. And after Frisky Spider's lightning-fast five-furlong gate work here Saturday in 58.80 seconds, there is a good chance he could enter the Swale as well.
Bob Durso, who trains Frisky Spider, confirmed he was leaning towards the Swale instead of the Florida Derby.
"I probably should be going to the Lane's End next week, the way that race is shaping up," said Durso. "But I want to keep him here for now, and I think the Swale is the best choice, simply because I haven't had enough time to do what I'd want to do with him to run in the Florida Derby."
Frisky Spider won his first three starts, including a pair of seven-furlong races here earlier in the meet, before finishing seventh in the Fountain of Youth, for which he was stretching out around two turns for the first time.
"He just wasn't 100 percent for the Fountain of Youth," said Durso.
Durso worked Frisky Spider from the gate Saturday to get him comfortable with the blinkers he will wear in his next start.
"He gets to loafing a bit when he runs," said Durso, "and the blinkers help him stay more focused. He worked awesome this morning and galloped out great."
Eddie King Jr. worked Frisky Spider on Saturday and will be in his regular seat aboard him in the Swale.
Eurosilver also got in his final tune-up for the Swale on Saturday, working five furlongs in 1:01.40 at Palm Meadows. Eurosilver has won his last three starts, including the Grade 2 Lane's End Breeders' Futurity to close out his 2-year-old campaign and a second-level allowance race at seven furlongs here Feb. 4 to open his 3-year-old season.
Among the others eyeing the Swale are Tiger Heart, Dashboard Drummer, and Caiman. Saratoga County remains a possibility.
Harbour Gate not quite ready for Swale
The strength of the Swale lineup is forcing one trainer with a promising 3-year-old to look elsewhere next weekend.
George Handy will pass the Swale with his lightly raced but speedy Harbour Gate to run the following Monday in the Ocala Breeders' Sale Championship.
Harbour Gate was 6 1/2-length maiden winner in his 3-year-old debut, beating a field that included Intimidator and Medalist, both of whom won their maidens impressively in their next starts. Harbour Gate finished eighth in his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Hutcheson.
Harbour Gate worked five furlongs in 59.60 seconds and galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.40 with Pat Day aboard Saturday.
"Pat thought he worked well, and we both agree he'll go two turns," said Handy. "The Swale is going to come up a pretty salty spot, and the OBS race looks like a better spot for him since it's a restricted race."
Bailey replaces Douglas on Madcap Escapade
Jerry Bailey has picked up the mount on Madcap Escapade for next Saturday's Grade 2, $150,000 Forward Gal Stakes, replacing Rene Douglas. Douglas had ridden Madcap Escapade in her previous two starts, a 10-length maiden win and an 11 3/4-length score in the Old Hat Stakes.
Trainer Frank Brothers said there was "no particular reason" for the change. Madcap Escapade is owned by Bruce Lunsford, for whom Bailey rode many winners when Lunsford had horses with Bill Mott.
On Saturday morning at Gulfstream Park, Bailey guided Madcap Escapade through a five-furlong workout in 59.40 seconds, the fastest of 20 at the distance.
"She worked very well," Bailey said. "She was actually pretty settled in the beginning and finished up nicely."
The Forward Gal will be run at seven furlongs, but is designed to be another step on a path to what Madcap Escapade's connections hope is a berth in two-turn stakes such as the Ashland and Kentucky Oaks. Bailey said Madcap Escapade worked like a horse who could go a route of ground.
"Fast horses, you always wonder if they can go long, but she's got a pretty good head on her, and she's got a long stride," Bailey said. "Those two factors will work in her favor."
As one may expect, Madcap Escapade will face few challengers in the Forward Gal. There were only 16 3-year-old fillies nominated to the race, and seven of those come from trainer Todd Pletcher's barn. Pletcher said he is not definite to run any of the seven.
Possible starters include Menifeeque, Code of Justice, and Wacky Patty.
Kitten's Joy to remain on turf
Immediately after working Madcap Escapade, Bailey jumped in his car and drove about an hour to Palm Meadows, where he worked Kitten's Joy for trainer Dale Romans. Romans wanted Bailey's opinion on how Kitten's Joy handled the dirt compared to turf in case Romans wanted to try him in a Kentucky Derby prep race.
Although Kitten's Joy worked a solid six furlongs in 1:12.40 in company with another horse, the decision was made to keep Kitten's Joy on the turf, a surface on which he is 4 for 4, with two stakes wins.
"He worked okay, but I could tell he didn't have the same turn of foot on the dirt that he did on the grass," Bailey said. "I spotted [the workmate] two lengths and beat him maybe a neck. He was spent at the end of the work, and he really shouldn't have been. On the grass he would have beat him by four or five easily."
Said Romans: "It took a lot more out of him to do it on dirt than on turf. We'll stick to our original plan."
Kitten's Joy, who won the Palm Beach Stakes in his last start, will run next in the $100,000 Transylvania Stakes at Keeneland on April 2 followed by the $100,000 Crown Royal American Turf at Churchill Downs on April 30. Both are Grade 3 events.
Offlee Wild works toward Skip Away
Offlee Wild, who has not won since pulling a 27-1 upset in the 2003 Holy Bull Stakes, will seek to end a seven-race losing streak when he runs in next Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Skip Away Stakes.
On Saturday, Offlee Wild was credited with a five-furlong work in 1:01. Trainer T.V. Smith caught Offlee Wild's last three furlongs in
36 seconds. Mark Guidry was up for the work and will ride him in the race. Offlee Wild was assigned low weight of 111 pounds. Bowman's Band, an expected starter, was made the 117-pound highweight.
Offlee Wild made his 4-year-old debut in a second-level allowance in which he was beaten a head by Collateral Damage after opening up a one-length lead at the eighth pole.
"It looked like he had it won, then he got to loafing on us," Smith said. "He might have got a little tired."
Last year, after winning the Holy Bull, Offlee Wild finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth. He got sick after that race and was never quite the same. He finished third in the Blue Grass and ran 12th in the Kentucky Derby before being sidelined again until the fall.
"He took so much time to recover from his sickness," Smith said. "We didn't run the horse at his best in those races, but I think he's doing real good now. He's carrying good weight now, he seems to be where we want him right now."
Of the 18 horses nominated to the Skip Away, those considered likely to run are Bowman's Band, Christine's Outlaw, Newfoundland, Offlee Wild, and Predawn Raid. Possible starters include Iron Deputy, Quest, Supah Blitz, and Who's Crying Now.
Capejinsky to go in Tampa Bay Derby
Capejinsky is heading west next weekend for the Tampa Bay Derby, according to trainer Mike Gorham. Capejinsky worked five furlongs in 1:00 on Saturday.
Capejinsky, an easy winner of Delaware's Dover Stakes last fall, finished second behind Birdstone in his 3-year-old debut under allowance conditions here last month.
"He's caught some pretty good horses in his last two starts, like Tapit in the Laurel Futurity, Birdstone in his last start," said trainer Mike Gorham. "If all goes smooth this week, we'll take him to Tampa next weekend."
Hottentot tries to follow local debut win
Hottentot, winner of her local debut earlier in the meet, may be a slight favorite over an evenly matched field of $62,500 claiming fillies and mares scheduled to go about a mile on the turf in Monday's $32,000 main event.
Hottentot rallied from mid-pack to a 2 1/2-length victory against $40,000 claiming rivals here Jan. 25. Trained by Edwin Broome, Hottentot has won three of her last five starts since being claimed for $25,000 last summer at Monmouth Park.