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Paul Pompa Jr.'s D' FUNNYBONE (D'wildcat) turned in another impressive performance in Saturday's $150,000 Swale S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park, winning easily by 1 1/4 lengths and confirming his status as the country's leading three-year-old sprinter. With Edgar Prado sitting chilly most of the way, the Richard Dutrow-trained colt pressed an opening quarter-mile in :22 1/5 before moving to the lead.
Aided by a stronger pace than in his last start, the Fountain of the Youth S. (G2), and the absence of that race's dominating winner Eskendereya (Giant's Causeway), Robert LaPenta's deep-closing ICE BOX (Pulpit) took full advantage in a wide-open renewal of the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.
Glencrest Farm LLC's DEVIL MAY CARE (Malibu Moon) returned to the winner's circle on Saturday with an emphatic, but green, victory in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss S. (G2) at Gulfstream Park. It was iffy for a moment in midstretch whether or not jockey John Velazquez would stay in the saddle as Devil May Care suddenly veered toward the rail, but there was no question about who was best in the nine-furlong test.
JODY SLEW (Slew City Slew), who captured the Tiffany Lass S. and Silverbulletday S. (G3) earlier in the Fair Grounds meet, is now considered "unlikely" to compete in the track's top race for three-year-old fillies, Friday's Fair Grounds Oaks (G2).
Grade 1-placed PULSION (Include) breezed three furlongs from the gate in a bullet :37 at Gulfstream Park Friday morning, just one day in advance of the Florida Derby (G1). The Patrick Biancone pupil tied for the fastest of five moves at the distance on the fast track.
Pulsion finished runner-up to champion Lookin at Lucky (Smart Strike) in the Norfolk S. (G1) last October, but his subsequent path has not gone as smoothly. Next time out, the bay colt was roughed up in the first turn of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) and wound up 11th.
FLORIDA / RULE FAVORED OVER PROMISING FOES IN FLORIDA DERBY -- WinStar Farm’s streaking Rule looks to move onto the short list of major contenders for the $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (GI) On May 1 at Churchill Downs when he steps up to face an intriguing collection of up and coming 3-year-olds in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (GI) at Gulfstream Park.
FLORIDA / AMEN HALLELUJAH, CHRISTINE DAAE MEET IN BONNIE MISS – The role of favorite for the 136th running of the $500,000 Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) on April 30 at Churchill Downs could be determined on Saturday when Davona Dale (GII) winner Amen Hallelujah meets highly regarded, but unproven, Christine Daae in the $200,000 Bonnie Miss (GII).
Nominations close on Saturday for the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G1) going 1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct on April 3, and Gotham S. (G3) winner AWESOME ACT (Awesome Again), Fountain of Youth S. (G2) winner ESKENDEREYA (Giant's Causeway) and the runners-up from both races form a talented core of Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls likely for the 86th running of New York's final major stepping stone to the Triple Crown.
Bob Baffert commented Thursday morning on future plans for champion two-year-old LOOKIN AT LUCKY (Smart Strike), who opened his three-year-old season with a victory in Saturday's Rebel S. (G2) at Oaklawn Park.
"Right now, I'm leaning toward the Arkansas Derby (G1)," the Hall of Fame conditioner said, "unless I change my mind and run him in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The Arkansas Derby gives me an extra week. I'll let the horse tell me."
The $1 million Arkansas Derby will be run on April 10, while the $750,000 Santa Anita Derby is scheduled for April 3.