Knob Hill Stable’s Merkabah and Kuehne Racing’s The Great
McGee are 4-year-olds that each posted impressive maiden victories over the
Gulfstream Park turf course in their last starts and will take the next step as
promising late-bloomers in Sunday’s ‘a other than’ allowance feature.
Jose Lezcano gets aboard Merkabah for trainer Kevin Attard
in the one-mile turf test as the well-bred son of turf champion Theatrical
makes only the second start of his career after a wire-to-wire debut here on
Mar. 11. The Canadian homebred is out of Knob Hill’s top-class turf stakes mare
Chopinina, runner-up against colts in the 2002 Atto Mile (G1) at Woodbine.
Jockey Jesus Castanon rides The Great McGee for trainer Michael
Mareina and he too went wire-to-wire breaking his maiden last out over the
course on Mar. 20. However, the chestnut gelding by Greatness was making his
seventh start after posting four seconds and two thirds in as many previous
Another contender to watch in Sunday’s field of 12 is A J
Suited Racing Stable’s 4-year-old Zifzaf with Eddie Castro to ride for veteran
horseman Jimmy Toner. The son of War Chant makes his first start since breaking
his maiden on turf at Monmouth
on June 26 for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Zifzaf finished a good third in his
only other turf try here early last year behind El Crespo and Conservative.
Completing the field for Sunday’s race are Greg Besinger’s
Snake River Canyon, Klaravich Stables and William Lawrence’s Speight of Hand,
Diane Tieman’s Zeke, Jacks or Better Farm’s Cat ‘n Fiddle, Walter
Rosas-Canessa’s Gulf Ruckus, Trade Winds Farm’s Cops Fever, J. Paul Reddam and
Willmott Stable’s Chapin Beach, John Matson’s Swift Strike and Santa Cruz
Ranch’s Stay Red.
Ol Memorial Stable and C.E. Glasscock’s Jet Set Vinny is an
‘also-eligible’ entered for ‘main track only’ by trainer Cam Gambolati.
A Little Warm Kept on Edge at Palm
Edward P. Evans’ 3-year-old Virginia homebred, A Little
Warm, cast his name into the Kentucky Derby (G1) picture with a solid runner-up
effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last out at the Fair Grounds on Mar. 27 for
trainer Anthony Dutrow, and the son of Stormin Fever worked a half-mile in 48
3/5 Friday morning at Palm Meadows.
A Little Warm won the six-furlong Spectacular Bid Stakes on
Jan. 9 and finished second in the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G2) on Feb.
20 in two starts at Gulfstream
this season before his first test around two turns in the Louisiana Derby. His
connections will have to wait and see if he has enough Graded stakes earnings
to make the maximum field of 20 permitted in the Derby.
Also still in residence at Palm Meadows is Zayat Stable’s
Eskenereya, the heavy favorite for the Kentucky Derby after posting sensational
victories in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream on
Feb. 20 and Wood Memorial (G1) last Saturday at Aqueduct for trainer Todd
The imposing chestnut colt by Giant’s Causeway was returned
to Palm Meadows after the Wood and Pletcher has indicated his tentative
schedule will be to work there Sunday, April 18, ship to Kentucky
on Apr. 20 and have his final Derby
workout over the Churchill Downs track on Apr. 25.
Two other Derby
prospects from Pletcher’s formidable team that raced at Gulfstream are entered
to run in Saturday’s $750,000 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland – Dogwood
Stable’s Aikenite and Wertheimer et Frere’s Interactif.