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Always Dreaming, Battalion Runner Breeze for Possible Florida Derby Starts

Mar 18, 2017
Florida Derby Candidate Practical Joke ‘Super’ in Palm Meadows Workout  

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming and Battalion Runner, two well-regarded 3-year-olds who impressed in allowance races at the current Gulfstream Park Championship Meet, worked at Palm Beach Downs Saturday for possible engagements in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 1.

MeB Racing Stables, Viola Racing Stables, and St. Elias Stables’ Always Dreaming worked in company with graded-stakes winner Theory, who is scheduled to return to the races next Saturday at Gulfstream in the $75,000 Spectacular Bid. They both horse were timed in 48.00 (seconds) for the half-mile move, the fastest of 20 works at the distance. Jockey John Velazquez was aboard Always Dreaming.

“Always Dreaming was coming into this work two weeks after a pretty easy win in a mile-and-an-eighth allowance race, so we weren’t looking for a really stern work from him this morning, though we got a very impressive work, I thought,” Pletcher said. “He did it very effortlessly. He was moving very well. I was happy the way he did it and very happy with the way he galloped out. It seems like he’s continuing to improve throughout the winter.”

Velazquez was also aboard for Battalion Runner’s five-furlong work in company with Vees Boy, the colt’s workmate from last week. Battalion Runner, a winner of back-to-back races at Gulfstream Park, a maiden special weight Dec. 31 and an allowance race Feb. 3, was timed in 1:01.20.

“Battalion Runner hadn’t run in a little while so we went a little further with him and asked him for a strong gallop out as well, which he did,” Pletcher said of the St. Elias Stable-owned colt. He too worked very well.”

Pletcher didn’t rule out both horses running in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, which produced last year’s Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist.

“We haven’t decided for sure and we won’t until their final preps next week, or what would be their final prep for the Florida Derby if that’s where one or two of them are going to run,” Pletcher said.

“I’ve got to get with the connections — they are common ownership in the two — and we will formulate a plan,” he added. “We’ve also discussed the possibility of entering them both and seeing how big a field it is and what the post positions look like.”

On Saturday, Pletcher also worked Southwest winner One Liner, who won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park in January. The WinStar Farm, China Horse Club and SF Racing-owned One Liner covered a half-mile in 50.20 in company with stablemate and maiden Caviar Czar. 

Pletcher said the two main options being considered for the undefeated One Liner is the Wood Memorial or Bluegrass, which will both be run April 8.
Practical Joke ‘Super’ in Workout for Possible Florida Derby Start

Multiple Grade 1 stakes-winning Practical Joke breezed a half mile at Palm Meadows Training Center Saturday morning with the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park April as a target. 

“I’ve narrowed it down the either the Florida Derby or the Blue Grass [at Keeneland April 8]. I sort of want to see where everybody’s going in. I’m going to go as far as to enter him in the Florida Derby and see where he draws and how it shapes up. I’m not going to totally commit to that until I see all that,” Brown said.

Owned by Klaravich Stables and William H. Lawrence, the 3-year-old son of Into Mischief was clocked in 48.75 seconds at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. It was the Chad Brown trainee’s first workout since his second-place finish behind Gunnevera in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park March 4.

“The horse worked super. He got a lot out of that race. I was very happy with his first race back,” Brown said.

Practical Joke, who had to be steadied on the first turn, made a three-wide run on the far turn and outfinished pacesetter Three Rules to finish second, captured the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga and the Champagne (G1) at Belmont. He concluded his 2016 season with a troubled third in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Santa Anita Nov. 5.

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