Soldat on right track towards Florida Derby
By Jeff Frank
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Kiaran McLaughlin had a wise plan
heading into the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He instructed jockey Alan Garcia to
take his top three-year-old Soldat to the early lead since the colt had drawn
the rail in the 1 1/8-mile event.
Despite breaking a step slow, the son of War Front did exactly what McLaughlin
wanted as he led by a length after a quarter in a moderate 24 1/5 seconds.
After three-quarters came up in 1:12 2/5, the 7-5 favorite, still on the lead,
braced for the upcoming challenge from the 8-5 second choice To Honor and
However, the Nashua and Remsen winner was not up to the task as Soldat powered
forward to a three-length lead in mid-stretch. Meanwhile, Gourmet Dinner, who
sat fourth on the rail through much of the race, put in a late bid to finish
second, two-lengths behind the winner. It was a gap of almost five back to To
Honor and Serve in third.
Ramon Dominguez, who rode Gourmet Dinner for the first time, whipped his
charge five times through the stretch while Garcia tapped Soldat just once or
twice. The $240,000 first place prize was never in doubt as Soldat toyed with
his rivals. And even though the final time of 1:50 1/5 was a full second
slower than his monstrous 10 3/4-length victory last month in the slop, it was
a good two seconds faster than Arch Traveler needed to win an allowance race
earlier in the day.
Soldat will now forge ahead to the Florida Derby with a record of three wins
and four seconds in seven career starts. This victory was perhaps the most
important in terms of public perception as his other two triumphs came on an
off-track and on the turf. Look for his odds to drop significantly in Future
Wager Pool 2 from the 18-1 he was let go in Pool 1.
All is not lost for To Honor and Serve. Despite a well-beaten third, it was a
decent effort for his first start in three months. Trainer Bill Mott sort of
expected him to come up short in the nine-furlong event as he didn't have his
colt fully cranked. For those looking to easily dismiss the son of Bernardini,
remember, last year's Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver finished third as the
favorite in his first three-year-old outing against the likes of Odysseus and
As for Gourmet Dinner, the gritty colt ran a dynamite race in his second start
this year. Take away the fourth-place effort on the synthetic surface at
Hollywood Park and the son of Trippi sports seven consecutive in-the-money
finishes. His next start is up in the air as his trainer Steve Standridge
might send him out west for the Santa Anita Derby instead of keeping him east
for the Florida Derby.
If Gourmet Dinner stays in the Sunshine State, look for one of his rivals to
be Arch Traveler - the victor of an entry level allowance race earlier in the
day. Trainer Jimmy Jerkens is inclined to match the two-time winner against
the big boys in the Florida Derby after prevailing by three-quarters of a
length over Nacho Business.
This was the colt's first start past seven furlongs, and even though the final
time was slow, he did run his final three-eighths in 37 4/5 seconds, the same
time it took Soldat to complete his final three furlongs.
Nacho Business ran very well despite jockey Joe Bravo giving him the
stranglehold for much of the race. In addition, the outside was not the place
to be all day long and the horse was still able to close, despite failing to
get up for the win.
A "FLASH" IN THE PAN? NOT A CHANCE!
Outside of Soldat, the most impressive three-year-old colt that ran on
Saturday was the Richard Dutrow-trained Flashpoint. The powerfully built son
of Pomoroy blew away heavily favored Travelin Man to win the Hutcheson Stakes
by 7 1/4-lengths, while running the seven furlongs in 1:22 seconds.
Perhaps the most electrifying part of his race was how calm jockey Cornelio
Velasquez was on top of the three-year-old. He never whipped Flashpoint and
the colt still overpowered Travelin Man and the seven other horses with ease.
It was Flashpoint's second win in as many starts. The first was an impressive
6 1/4-length score at Aqueduct on Jan. 15. His breeding is geared towards
sprinting but Dutrow stated after the race that the nine-furlong Florida Derby
could be the colt's next start.
Unless he's the second coming of Seattle Slew or even Big Brown (when talking
about Dutrow), don't expect him to win the Grade I event. The better spot
would be the seven-furlong Swale Stakes on the undercard, but with an $850,000
difference in the two purses as well as the opportunity to test the colt's
endurance, one can see why Dutrow might choose the $1 million Grade I Florida
UNCLE MO AND DIALED IN WORKOUTS
The top two Kentucky Derby favorites both hit the track this past week in
preparation for next start.
Uncle Mo and Dialed In each worked five-furlongs at Palm Meadows, but on
different days. The former, in tandem with stablemate Stay Thirsty, breezed
five in 1:00 3/5 for the top work of the day, while the latter breezed five in
59 and change with the next fastest work being 1:01 2/5!
Uncle Mo will make his 2011 debut at Gulfstream Park on Mar. 12 in the Timely
Writer Stakes. If for some reason that race doesn't fill, his connections will
go back to their original plan of sending the two-year-old champ to the Tampa
Bay Derby on the same day. Meanwhile, Nick Zito is looking for a two-turn
allowance race in early March for Dialed In. Unfortunately, there are zero
races of that nature scheduled at either Gulfstream Park or Tampa Bay Downs,
so unless he sends his colt outside the state (which he doesn't want to do),
look for Dialed In to show up in the Timely Writer at one-mile or the 1 1/16-
mile Tampa Bay Derby.
THE JEFF FRANK TOP 12
2) Dialed In
5) To Honor and Serve
7) Sway Away
8) Bench Points
9) The Factor
10) Mucho Macho Man
12-T) Jaycito and Runflatout