- From Florida comes word that Closing Argument works 5f in 1:01.2 and will skip the Fountain of Youth and point for the Florida Derby instead, which doesn’t address my question of why would any serious Derby contender go in that race five weeks before May 7 because I don’t really consider him one. He’s a nice colt whose owners did a nice job of spotting him in some oversized purse stakes around the country that he could compete in. No doubt he ran a nice race in the Holy Bull, but I just don’t see him as a Derby horse. He’s by speed sire Successful Appeal (Valid Appeal) out of a Mr. Greeley mare who has Groovy, the popular sprinter who won the Vosburgh and the Forego back in the mid-80s, in her pedigree, and I'd be pretty surprised if he's a Derby winner.
- Sun King (Charismatic) earned a 104 Beyer fig in winning at Gulfstream on Saturday, the fastest for a 3 yo this year, and the Tampa Bay Derby on March 19 is next, with a third prep, perhaps the Wood (4/9) or the Blue Grass (4/16) as a final prep. Mike Watchmaker in the Form on Zito’s more traditional approach:
Zito's three-prep approach is in stark contrast to the schedules of the five Kentucky Derby candidates who were listed in front of Sun King in last Friday's installment of this newspaper's Derby Watch. Declan's Moon, Rockport Harbor, Afleet Alex, and Wilko, are all by design in line for only two preps. That is astonishing when you consider that since Jet Pilot won the 1947 Derby off of only two previous starts at 3 the only one to do it was Sunny's Halo in 1983. Two preps wasn't the original plan for Roman Ruler, but after a quarter crack and poor weather conspired to keep him out of the San Vicente, he now has time for only two preps if he is to make it to Louisville.
"It used to be that four was the ideal number of Derby preps," Zito said in a phone interview. "But you can't run them four times before the Derby anymore. There are probably a million reasons why, but they simply don't make horses like they used to, and you just can't run them as much." [Daily Racing Form]
- Pletcher sends out Bandini (Fountain of Youth), Proud Accolade (Louisiana Derby), as well as Ashado (Apple Blossom Handicap, Oaklawn, 4/9) and his undefeated 3 yo filly Maddalena for workouts. This guy is absolutely loaded.