Cal Nation Back In Action At Gulfstream
By Ed Gray
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Cal Nation’s second start has been greatly anticipated since the Todd Pletcher-trained colt pulled away to victory by nearly eight lengths under a hand ride from John Velazquez at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 5.
The wait is over. The 3-year-old son of Distorted Humor will make his second lifetime start in Saturday’s third race, a stakes-quality, entry-level allowance race for 3-year-olds.
“He’s doing well. He’s training up to the race well and is ready to go,” said Pletcher, whose colt has been rated as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a six-horse field in the mile race.
Cal Nation earned such respect while running seven furlongs in 1:22 in his debut, in which he stalked the early pace before putting on a spectacular show in the stretch run. The Kentucky-bred colt is owned and was bred by WinStar Farm, which campaigned 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver.
Pletcher hasn’t caught Derby Fever just yet with Cal Nation, who’ll be ridden by John Velazquez.
“We’re not going to look beyond (Saturday),” said Pletcher, noting a third race has not yet been picked out for Cal Nation. “We’ll worry about that after we see what he does in the race before we get to ambitious.”
In addition to stablemate Dance City, who graduated in his second career start on Jan. 21 at Gulfstream Park, Cal Nation will be challenged by a highly promising Bowman’s Causeway.
The Patrick Biancone-trained colt finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth (G2) after getting bumped at the start and steadied during the race. The son of Giant’s Causeway previously broke his maiden at Gulfstream in his third career start on Jan. 11.
“He’s a horse who has a lot of talent. Each time he runs he learns a little bit more. He’s very talented, but in the morning he’s very lazy. We run him to work him,” said Biancone, who has named Paco Lopez to ride the Ontario-bred colt.
Unlike Pletcher, Biancone is looking ahead to either the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream on April 3 or the Wood Memorial (G1) at Aqueduct on April 9 for his colt’s next start.
“He’s got great action, a big, long mover. In the morning you do what you want, but it’s not enough for him,” said Biancone, whose colt will be making his fourth start at the Gulfstream meeting.
Should Bowman’s Causeway make it to the Wood, he will most likely run against the Pletcher-trained Uncle Mo, an impressive winner of the Timely Writer Stakes at Gulfstream in his 2011 debut last weekend.
“It’s always been the most likely plan. I guess we’ll leave that tiny window open, but most likely he goes to the Wood,” said Pletcher, who left open a slight chance that Uncle Mo could run in the Florida Derby ‘if he was absolutely screaming for a race on April 3 instead of April 9.”
Uncle Mo’s owner, Mike Repole has stated his desire for his colt to win the Wood in his native New York.
“ It’s always been Plan A to go to the Wood and so far everything’s gone according to plan,” Pletcher said. “We’re not looking to change anything.”