Ancient Rome, the winner of the Spectacular Bid Stakes last out, is set to make his 2012 debut in the inaugural running of the Gulfstream Park Derby. Trainer Anthony Dutrow stated, “There are so many opportunities for 3-year-olds throughout the year. That’s why we’re stretching him out sooner rather than later. If it doesn’t work out, we’re not going to argue. We’ll just campaign him as a sprinter.” Ancient Rome (Roman Ruler—Wish It Were, by Is It True) is 2 for 3 as a two-year old. After finishing second to Mark Valeski in his debut race, the bay colt captured a 5 ½ furlong maiden special weight race at Delaware Park before nosing out For Oby in his stakes debut. Ancient Rome is currently stabled at Palm Meadows Training Center and breezed four furlongs in 48.24 on December 26.
Animal Kingdom, this year’s Kentucky Derby hero, is back in training. On Christmas Eve morning, the Leroidesanimaux colt worked with Grade 1 winning stablemate Toby’s Corner at the Fair Hill training center in Maryland. He went 3 furlongs in 38 flat. Trainer Graham Motion’s goal for the chestnut colt is the $10-million Dubai World Cup with a prep race beforehand. Motion said, “It’s all up to the colt and how quickly he gets himself into shape. He is a big horse and he grew during his layoff. Ideally, I’d like to be able to run him in a race like the Gulfstream Park Handicap on February 11, but if he fails to make that race, we always have the option of sending him over to Dubai early and giving him a race there.” As for when Animal Kingdom will be transferred to Palm Meadows, Motion stated, “The weather has been holding up well and he likes it here. I wouldn’t mind breezing him here a few more times, as long as the dirt and Tapeta stay as good as they are right now.” Saturday’s work was the first for the colt after having surgery to stabilize a non-displaced hairline fracture of a hind leg sustained in a chain-reaction bumping incident at the start of the Belmont Stakes.
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Hansen and Fountain of Youth winner Soldat also returned to the worktab on Christmas Eve morning. Hansen breezed a half mile in 53 flat while Soldat zipped through 3 furlongs in 36 flat. Soldat won an allowance race by 10 ¾ lengths and the Fountain of Youth Stakes by 2 lengths earlier in the year, but followed up those performances with a 5th in the Florida Derby as the favorite and an 11th in the Kentucky Derby. The War Front colt has not raced since the Kentucky Derby.
Palm Meadows has been a flurry of activity as of late. Big names that have put in recent works include:
December 24, 2011
• It’s Tricky—3 furlongs on dirt—39.04
• Mission Impazible—3 furlongs on dirt—39.34
• Pants on Fire—3 furlongs on dirt—36.44—5/38
• Adios Charlie—4 furlongs on dirt—49.45
• Awesome Maria—4 furlongs on dirt—49.96
• Discreet Dancer—4 furlongs on dirt—48.88
• Alpha—5 furlongs on dirt—1:01.03
• Awesome Feather—5 furlongs on dirt—1:00.66—4/56
December 26, 2011
• Dayatthespa—4 furlongs on turf—50.60—3/13
December 27, 2011
• Cool Blue Red Hot—5 furlongs on dirt—1:01.36—5/21
Gulfstream Park has also been a hotbed of activity. Big names stabled there that have put in recent works include:
December 24, 2011
• Mucho Macho Man—4 furlongs on dirt—46.50—1/95
• Twinspired—5 furlongs on dirt—1:00.40
December 27, 2011
• Vector—3 furlongs on dirt—36.80—2/9
New Year’s weekend features three stakes races: the G3 Mr. Prospector Stakes, the Gulfstream Park Derby Stakes, and the G3 Old Hat Stakes. Sixteen three-year olds and upward have been nominated to the 6 furlong Mr. Prospector Stakes, including Apriority and Sangaree. The race is limited to fourteen entries with preference given to graded stakes winners. The one and one sixteenth mile Gulfstream Park Derby Stakes drew 30 nominations, including Alpha, Dullahan, O’Prado Again, Souper Speedy, and Stephanoatsee, a half-brother to Shackleford. The field is limited to 14 starters and restricted to three-year olds. The 6 furlong Old Hat Stakes drew 18 nominations with Awesome Belle headlining the field. It is also limited to 14 starters and is restricted to 3-year old fillies.