LaPenta’s 3-year-old Ice Box drilled a ‘bullet’ half-mile in 47 1/5 Saturday
morning at Palm Meadows for trainer Nick Zito as he tunes up for his engagement
in next Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, bidding to
improve on his fifth-place finish last out in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of
Youth Stakes (G2) over the track and 1 1/8 miles distance on Feb. 20.
A son of
1997 Florida Derby runner-up Pulpit, Ice Box was ‘off a bit slow’ in the
Fountain of Youth, according to Equibase comments and was never a
threat, beaten 12 lengths by Eskendereya, who won by 8 ½ lengths over
Zito-trained Jackson Bend. Ice Box had raced much closer to the pace when
winning a 1 1/8 miles allowance test over the track on Jan. 18 in his
up and coming horse,” said Zito Friday afternoon of the $125,000 Keeneland
September yearling purchase. “He likes the surface and won a ‘one other than’
(allowance) and was very impressive doing it. Every time you win an allowance
race (at Gulfstream) you know you’re racing with the best horses in the country.
regards to the Fountain of Youth, he finished a respectable fifth. He made a
good move. I think he’s going to be a lot closer that people think (early in
the Florida Derby). I know we have to beat Eskendereya.”
another promising 3-year-old on Saturday morning’s Palm Meadows work tab as
Richard Pell’s Fly Down was timed a sharp half-mile in 48 flat. The chestnut
son of Mineshaft has won his last two of three career starts, most recently a 1
1/8 miles allowance over the Gulfstream track on Feb. 21 in his 3-year-old
debut and is eligible for the Florida Derby.
Stable’s Eskendereya leads the list of probable/possible starters for the 59th
edition of the Florida Derby. Others in addition to Ice Box include Flying Zee
Stables and partners’ Pulsion, IEAH Stables and partners’ Radiohead, WinStar
Farm’s Rule, Ol Memorial Stables and C.E. Glasscock’s Soaring Empire, Ken and
Sarah Ramsey’s Pleasant Prince, Donald Dizney’s First Dude and Kuehne Stable’s
Game On Dude.
Castellano & Pletcher Lead
Gulfstream Standings into Weekend
Javier Castellano and trainer Todd Pletcher maintained their leads in the Gulfstream
standings this week going into Saturday’s Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) card,
and 17-year-old apprentice jockey Luis Saez gets back in the saddle after being
sidelined with a shoulder injury in early February.
leads the jockey standings with 41 victories, two more than John Velazquez
second with 39 wins and Julien Leparoux third with 35. Castellano and Velazquez
ride here Saturday, but Leparoux headed west for the mount on WinStar Farm’s
3-year-old American Lion for trainer Eoin Harty in the $150,000 San Felipe
Stakes (G2) at Santa Anita.
Rajiv Maragh ranks in a tie for fourth in the Gulfstream standings with Elvis
Trujillo at 33 tallies apiece, but Maragh also is on the road Saturday as he
rides Padua Stable’s 3-year-old Odysseus for trainer Tom Albertrani in the
$300,000 Tampa Bay Derby (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Saez burst on the scene at Calder last year to make a big impression with fans
and horsemen, finishing third behind veterans Eibar Coa and Manoel Cruz in the
standings for the highly-competitive Tropical-at-Calder meet and gaining
national recognition as an Eclipse Award finalist.
off to a slow start during the first month of the Gulfstream meet with just
three wins from 86 mounts, but suffered a shoulder injury in a morning training
accident at Calder on Feb. 2. He returns Saturday named on five mounts.
Pletcher holds a big lead on the trainers’ leader board as he bids for a
seventh straight Gulfstream meet championship after sending out 25 winners, 11
more than closest rival Nick Zito second with 14. Nine-time Gulfstream titlist
Bill Mott ranks third with 12 wins, followed by Rick Dutrow at 11 and four
others tied for fifth at nine each.