$3.7M yearling drills for second start
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Dunkirk, the $3.7 million yearling purchase who ran such a visually impressive race winning his debut here on Jan. 24, turned in his first workout since graduation day when he breezed four furlongs in 48.40 seconds at Palm Meadows on Thursday.
Dunkirk, a son of Unbridled's Song, rallied from the back of the pack following a slow start to a 6 3/4-length victory under jockey Edgar Prado. Despite the sensational manner in which he captured the seven-furlong dash, Dunkirk earned a relatively low 78 Beyer Speed Figure.
Trainer Todd Pletcher said he was planning on taking the conservative route with Dunkirk and will look for an allowance race for his next start rather than thrusting the promising colt immediately into stakes company.
"I just don't think it would be fair to toss him right in with horses who have already run five or six times off just his maiden win," said Pletcher who will be at Santa Anita to saddle horses in three stakes on Saturday.
Prado climbs into contention
Prado won both ends of Wednesday's late daily double, including the featured eighth race aboard Dr. Pleasure, who was making his first start since falling during the Grade 3 Fayette Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 25. Prado completed the $40 double by guiding Quiet Harbor to victory over the turf in the nightcap for trainer Shug McGaughey.
The two wins moved Prado back into the thick of a red-hot battle for the top spot in the jockey standings, which had no fewer than seven riders bunched within five wins of the leader, Kent Desormeaux, at the conclusion of Thursday's program. Several of the leaders, including Prado, will be out of town on Saturday to ride in stakes. Prado and Julien Leparoux will be at the Fair Grounds to ride Giant Oak and Au Moon, respectively, in the Grade 3 Risen Star. John Velazquez will accompany Pletcher to Santa Anita, where he has mounts in all four stakes on Saturday's card.
Green Vegas gets overdue win
Green Vegas, who had not won a race since capturing the In Reality finale of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder in October of 2006, registered a $57.60 shocker in Thursday's feature, wearing down pacesetter First Word in the high-priced optional claiming dash. Carlos Olivero rode Green Vegas for trainer Luis Olivares, who also won the afternoon's fourth event with the recently claimed Fiumes.
Lieutenant Ron, the 4-5 favorite in Thursday's headliner, briefly delayed the start of the race when he broke through the starting gate, then finished seventh following a wide trip.
Fearless Vision still going strong
Fearless Vision, fifth after a troubled trip in the Grade 3 Hal's Hope on opening day, worked five furlongs in 59.63 seconds at the tail end of training hours here Thursday. The move was impressive considering the unseasonably cold weather and brisk headwind he had to battle through the opening quarter-mile.
Fearless Vision, 5, had a promising career put on hold when he suffered a hairline fracture in his ankle following a third-place finish in the Grade 2 Peter Pan in May of his 3-year-old campaign. He missed 14 months while recuperating from the injury and resulting complications before returning to win three races and post triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures on three occasions during the second half of 2008.
"It's amazing how he was able to come back from that serious a problem, one that required such an extensive period of recuperation, to compete at the level he's at now," said trainer Pat Reynolds who is eyeing a conditioned allowance race here next weekend for Fearless Vision's next start.
Jambalaya on comeback trail
Jambalaya, who has not started since winning the 2007 Arlington Million, schooled in the paddock between the fourth and fifth races on Thursday. Jambalaya suffered a deep bone bruise shortly after his victory in the Million, then had a second setback along the comeback trail when he pulled a gluteal muscle last spring.
Jambalaya, a 7-year-old gelded son of Langfhur, won both the Pan American and Grade 1 Gulfstream Park handicaps here last winter. He was also third in the Grade 3 Canadian Turf, a race trainer Catherine Day Phillips has earmarked for his comeback on Feb. 28.
Tomcito getting ready
Tomcito, who briefly thrust himself into the Kentucky Derby picture by finishing a distant third behind Big Brown and Smooth Air in the 2008 Florida Derby, continues to work at Palm Meadows for his return. Tomcito, an Irish bred who began his career in Peru, has not started since finishing far back in the Peter Pan last May. He breezed a half-mile in 51.60 at the training center on Thursday, his fifth work dating back to Jan. 15.