Todd Pletcher will gladly accept a nine-pound concession from
124-pound highweight Fort Larned on Discreet Dancer
’s behalf, but
Gulfstream Park’s nine-time defending champion trainer isn’t quite sure
how the weight assignments might affect the outcome of Saturday’s
$300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).
“It’s hard to quantify those things. It’s a substantial concession
that we’re getting, but by the same token, we’re running a lightly raced
horse against a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner,” said Pletcher following
training hours Wednesday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center.
Fort Larned, who will make his 2013 debut in the Gulfstream Park
Handicap, captured five stakes, including the Skip Away (G3) at
Gulfstream, the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic
(G1) at Santa Anita. Discreet Dancer has run only four times, winning
three and finishing a distant third in last year’s Fountain of Youth
Discreet Dancer, who won his first two starts last season by open
lengths, was away from the races following the Fountain of Youth for 11
months when he captured a six-furlong, second-level allowance at
Gulfstream by a neck on Feb. 6.
“Considering the length of the layoff and we were meeting some
seasoned horses, I thought he showed a lot of determination and
substantiated his form as a 3-year-old,” Pletcher said. “We were really,
really pleased with his effort.”
In his comeback race, the son of Discreet Cat chased the early pace and just got up to score after a long stretch drive.
“I think the mile will suit him well. I felt like in the race at six
(furlongs) we had to rush him a little more than he really wanted to
be, so I would think stretching out would help,” Pletcher said. “But
we’re also stretching out into a pretty tough race.”
The E. Paul Robsham Stables’ homebred 4-year-old will be seeking his
first stakes success in five starts, all at Gulfstream, in the one-turn
mile stakes for 4-year-olds and up.
“I think this race will tell us a lot about where we are in terms of
quality and the distance he wants to run,” Pletcher said. “But he’s
always trained like a graded-stakes horse for us. Hopefully, bigger
things will come, but I’m not 100 percent sure what distance it’ll end
Discreet Dancer generated high expectations in his very first start
when he won by nearly 10 lengths, running the 5½ furlongs in the
track-record time of 1:02.34.
“Watching him train, we felt he was one who would run well in his
first start. He did and set a track record. He came back and won
impressively the second time,” Pletcher said. “I didn’t know watching
him train before he started that he’d end up being favored in the
Fountain of Youth with a horse like Union Rags in there. He came out of
that with an issue that required some time off, and here we are again.”