03/22/2010 12:00AM

Two will press on after Florida Derby letdowns


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - While the top three finishers from Saturday's $750,000 Florida Derby, Ice Box, Pleasant Prince, and Rule, will not have another prep before the Kentucky Derby, at least two of the also-rans from the race will likely get another chance to earn a spot in the starting gate at Churchill Downs on May 1.

Both Dale Romans and Patrick Biancone, the trainers of First Dude and Pulsion, are considering running their 3-year-olds back in one of the remaining Derby preps in April. First Dude finished a troubled fifth, three-quarters of a length in front of the pace-dueling Pulsion, on Saturday.

Romans said he thought First Dude's chances were compromised somewhat by an unlucky trip.

"He got bounced around a bit in early stretch, and once he got clear he came running and then galloped out very well," said Romans. "I still think he can run with anybody, and the more experience he gets the better he'll be."

Romans said he would consider either the Grade 1 Wood on April 3 or the Lexington at Keeneland on April 17 for First Dude's next start.

Biancone was a bit surprised to see Pulsion dueling the 9-5 favorite, Rule, for the lead from the outset in the Florida Derby.

"The problem with this horse was that he had no tactical speed," said Biancone. "We tried to do that Saturday and he wound up with too much speed and not enough tactical."

Biancone said the experience should do Pulsion, who now has $80,000 in graded earnings, a world of good.

"He got another race under his belt, which should set him up well for next time," said Biancone. "He'll go to the Arkansas Derby. That was our plan anyway, win or lose on Saturday."

One notable also-ran officially off the Derby trail is Lentenor, who finished fourth despite angling in sharply under jockey Alan Garcia in early stretch of the Florida Derby.

"Alan said he did something a little green at the top of the stretch," said Michael Matz, who trains Lentenor and trained his older brother Barbaro to win the 2006 Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby. "Alan said he had a lot of horse but when he went to switch leads he sort of rolled over and took him to the inside. After that it just took too much time to get him back in the clear and going again."

Matz said Lentenor would likely return to allowance company in his next start.

"He basically was telling us what we already knew, that he was green and inexperienced going into this race," said Matz. "He really wasn't ready for something like that yet. We'll back off a little, give him a conditioned race, get his confidence back, and hopefully by August we'll have a real nice 3-year-old."

Trainer Nick Zito said Ice Box would not need another Derby prep following his last-to-first, nose decision over Pleasant Prince in the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

"He's had three mile-and-an-eighth races in a row," said Zito. "I don't see the point of running anywhere. There's nothing to gain. Zero."

Zito said Ice Box, who received a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 99 in the Florida Derby, would ship to Churchill Downs approximately the first week of April.

Pleasant Prince will be flown to Lexington on Wednesday and do all his training up to the Derby at Keeneland, trainer Wesley Ward advised.

"Keeneland's surface has been great to me the last few years, I've had a lot of luck there. and I'll also be there with the rest of my horses," said Ward.

Ward's chief concern at the moment is the possibility of losing Pleasant Prince's regular rider, Julien Leparoux, for the Kentucky Derby. Leparoux is also the rider for Awesome Act, who returns in the Wood following his impressive win earlier this month in the Gotham.

"I'm sure we'll wait it out," said Ward. "Julien's style fits this horse. He wants to run for him."

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Rule, who finished another 1 1/4 lengths behind Pleasant Prince after contesting the pace Saturday, came out of the race well.

"We felt like he learned something. I think Johnny learned something, and hopefully it improves him for next time," said Pletcher, who will keep Rule at the Palm Meadows training center until shipping him to Churchill Downs around the 20th of April.

- additional reporting by David Grening