Gulfstream Notes: Pletcher in 'Weight-and-See' Mode, Shanghai Bobby on Track for Florida Derby, Fort Larned Ready for 2013 Debut

Gulfstream Notes: Pletcher in 'Weight-and-See' Mode, Shanghai Bobby on Track for Florida Derby, Fort Larned Ready for 2013 Debut


Pletcher in 'Weight-and-See' Mode for Gulfstream Park Handicap
Todd Pletcher will gladly accept a nine-pound concession from 124-pound highweight Fort Larned on Discreet Dancer’s behalf, but Gulfstream Park’s nine-time defending champion trainer isn’t quite sure how the weight assignments might affect the outcome of Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2).

“It’s hard to quantify those things. It’s a substantial concession that we’re getting, but by the same token, we’re running a lightly raced horse against a Breeders’ Cup Classic winner,” said Pletcher following training hours Wednesday morning at Palm Meadows Training Center.

Fort Larned, who will make his 2013 debut in the Gulfstream Park Handicap, captured five stakes, including the Skip Away (G3) at Gulfstream, the Whitney (G1) at Saratoga and the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) at Santa Anita. Discreet Dancer has run only four times, winning three and finishing a distant third in last year’s Fountain of Youth (G2).

Discreet Dancer, who won his first two starts last season by open lengths, was away from the races following the Fountain of Youth for 11 months when he captured a six-furlong, second-level allowance at Gulfstream by a neck on Feb. 6.

“Considering the length of the layoff and we were meeting some seasoned horses, I thought he showed a lot of determination and substantiated his form as a 3-year-old,” Pletcher said. “We were really, really pleased with his effort.”

In his comeback race, the son of Discreet Cat chased the early pace and just got up to score after a long stretch drive.

“I think the mile will suit him well. I felt like in the race at six (furlongs) we had to rush him a little more than he really wanted to be, so I would think stretching out would help,” Pletcher said. “But we’re also stretching out into a pretty tough race.”

The E. Paul Robsham Stables’ homebred 4-year-old will be seeking his first stakes success in five starts, all at Gulfstream, in the one-turn mile stakes for 4-year-olds and up.

“I think this race will tell us a lot about where we are in terms of quality and the distance he wants to run,” Pletcher said. “But he’s always trained like a graded-stakes horse for us. Hopefully, bigger things will come, but I’m not 100 percent sure what distance it’ll end up being.”

Discreet Cat generated high expectations in his very first start when he won by nearly10 lengths, running the 5½ furlongs in the track-record time of 1:02.34.

“Watching him train, we felt he was one who would run well in his first start. He did and set a track record. He came back and won impressively the second time,” Pletcher said. “I didn’t know watching him train before he started that he’d end up being favored in the Fountain of Youth with a horse like Union Rags in there. He came out of that with an issue that required some time off, and here we are again.”

Shanghai Bobby on Track for Besilu Stables Florida Derby

Champion Shanghai Bobby continues to train forwardly for a scheduled start in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby at Gulfstream on March 30. The son of Harlan’s Holiday hasn’t started in a race since suffering his first career loss in the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 26.

“The horse is training really well. We’ve had a plan mapped out after the Holy Bull and everything’s been going to plan so far,” said Pletcher, whose colt breezed five furlongs in 1:00.90 on Sunday. “We still have a ways to go, but he’ll continue on a weekly work schedule until the race.”

Shanghai Bobby entered the Holy Bull as the early favorite for this year’s Kentucky Derby on the strength of an undefeated juvenile season that included Grade 1 victories in the Champagne at Belmont and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita. The buzz surrounding Kentucky-bred colt has subsided considerably since the Holy Bull, in which he finished two lengths behind Itsmyluckyday and more than 11 lengths clear of third-place finisher Clearly Now.

“People are looking at the Holy Bull as a pretty strong race. Itsmyluckyday naturally got a lot of respect from that and the race was flattered a bit when Clearly Now came back to win the Swale the other day,” Pletcher said. “I think it’s probably due to the fact that neither Shanghai Bobby nor Itsmyluckyday has run since the Holy Bull the everybody is looking at the horses that are running at the moment. Hopefully, the Florida Derby will put him back on the scene.”

The Pletcher-trained Verrazano has replaced Shanghai Bobby atop a majority of 3-year-old polls while earning favoritism in the Churchill Downs’ first Kentucky Derby Future wager.

The son of More Than Ready, who has created a buzz at Gulfstream with a pair of dazzling victories to launch his career, is scheduled to make his stakes debut in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Fort Larned“He trained so well before his maiden race, we anticipated he’d run well. Then, he trained just as good or better for his second race. When you have one that trains as well as he does and has run as well as he had, you want to see more of the same,” Pletcher said of Verrazano’s return to action.

Fort Larned All Set for 2013 Debut

Trainer Ian Wilkes reported Wednesday that Fort Larned has come out of his final workout for Saturday’s $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap (G1) in good order. The son of E Dubai breezed five furlongs in 1:01.30 at Palm Meadows Training Center on Monday.

“It was a nice, easy breeze. He’s doing fine and he’s ready to go,” said Wilkes.

Fort Larned, a finalist for 2012 Horse of the Year, is set to make his 2013 debut in the one-turn, one-mile handicap, in which he will carry highweight of 124 pounds.