DELRAY BEACH, FL – Trainer Todd Pletcher sent a trio of Triple Crown contenders to the training track at Palm Beach Downs early Saturday morning for breezes, including Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) winner Materiality, Fountain of Youth (G2) winner and Florida Derby fourth-place finisher Itsaknockout, and Louisiana Derby (G2) runner-up Stanford.
The three colts turned in their first works since their last respective starts, which all came on March 28, and each worked in company. Itsaknockout, paired with recent Tamarac Stakes winner Competitive Edge, who is targeting the Pat Day Mile on May 2, worked a half-mile 49.06 seconds over the Palm Beach Downs dirt oval. The duo covered the last quarter-mile in 23.41 seconds without much urging.
“It was a good, progressive breeze,” Pletcher said of the work. “They picked it up as they went along, and they galloped out well. I was happy with it.”
Materiality followed, and the undefeated son of Afleet Alex worked in company with Stanford, impressing with a 48.41-second 4-furlong breeze. The two quickened in the second half of the work, covering their final quarter-mile in a brisk 22.50 seconds. Although they ran jointly, Materiality finished with a slight edge over his workmate.
“I thought both horses worked extremely well,” Pletcher said. “They went off easy and finished up strongly, galloped out great. Both seem to be moving very well.”
With the Triple Crown set to kick off in three weeks, Pletcher said his contenders are showing him the things that he looks for leading up to the spring classics.
“I look for the same kind of thing [that I saw today],” Pletcher said. “I just hope that they continue to work well and do well. I’m really happy with the way all three of those horses, over all, are doing. Their appetites are good. They’re moving well. They have good coats. They’re showing us all the right signs.”
Materiality, Itsaknockout, and Stanford will continue to train in South Florida and will record one more breeze at Palm Beach Downs before heading north on Tuesday, April 21.
“They’ll breeze a week from today here (at Palm Beach Downs), and they’ll fly to Louisville on the 21st,” Pletcher said. “Then they’ll have one breeze at Churchill, probably on the Saturday before the [Kentucky] Derby.”
Upstart’s Breeze Postponed
Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) winner Upstart was also scheduled to breeze Saturday morning at Rick Violette’s Palm Meadows base in Boynton Beach, but the 3-year-old son of Flatter spiked a fever, forcing the postponement of the work.
“He had a higher than normal temperature, so we have to see where that’s going,” Violette said. “We just skipped the breeze, and we’ll see what happens. If it goes up, then we’ll have to really address it, and if it’s just a bump on the screen, we’ll re-plan his breeze. We’ll gallop him a couple days and see what’s going on. Right now, it’s too early to give any kind of intelligent answer other than, we’ll take his temperature later and see what happens.”
Violette said the flashy bay ridgling, who also recorded runner-up finishes in the Fountain of Youth (via disqualification after crossing the wire first) and the Florida Derby, was discovered to have a high temperature just before leaving the barn for his breeze.
“We noticed it mid-morning,” he said. “His temp was a little bit higher than normal early, and he had a dirty nose later. We had tack on him and were ready to go, and (assistant trainer) Melissa [Cohen] took [his temperature] again, and it was climbing. We’re better off not breezing. If you breeze a horse that’s about to get sick, you’re going to make him really sick. Everything’s on hold until we know which way this thing is going.”
Violette added that his trainee is not acting like a sick horse, as Upstart appeared bright and aware in his stall on Violette’s shed row.
“He’s acting great,” he said.“He looks wonderful. He’s not acting sick. There’s no question [it’s better to have it happen now rather than later]. If we had breezed him, and he was getting sick, then we could make him very, very sick. It’s better that we caught it early, and we’ll just deal with the cards, that’s all.”