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Travelin Man In Swale Leads Florida Derby Undercard
By Jack Will
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - With Hutcheson Stakes (G2) winner Flashpoint getting a chance in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) Sunday, E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Travelin Man will inherit the favorite’s role in the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds in one of three other Graded stakes to be run on the 12-race program
In addition to the Swale at seven furlongs, the card will include renewals of the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3) at 1 3/16 miles and the $100,000 Emirates Airlines Appleton Stakes (G3) at one-mile on turf, both races for older horses.
Regular jockey John R. Velazquez will be aboard Travelin Man as trainer Todd Pletcher sends out runners in 11 of the 12 races on Sunday, including Stay Thirsty in the Florida Derby. Travelin Man is a Florida homebred by Trippi with just two starts, a flashy winning debut here by 7 ¼ lengths going six furlongs on Jan. 6 and second as the odds-on favorite behind Flashpoint in the seven-furlong Hutcheson on Feb. 26.
Travelin Man faces five rivals in the Swale with Harold Queen’s Little Drama and Let’s Go Stable’s Razmataz also coming out of the Hutcheson, finishing third and fourth, respectively, although both well behind Travelin Man in second as Flashpoint won by seven lengths.
Jockey Joe Bravo rides Little Drama for trainer David Fawkes as he makes his second start of the season. A half-brother to 2010 Eclipse champion sprinter and stablemate Big Drama, Little Drama is by Burning Roma and was beaten 10 lengths in the Hutcheson in his first start since finishing fifth in the 1 1/16 miles In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes at Calder in mid-October.
Razmataz was beaten 11 ½ lengths in the Hutcheson as an uncoupled stablemate with Travelin Man for Pletcher. The son of Forest Wildcat had won a six-furlong allowance over the track on Jan. 12 after winning one of three starts last year at Churchill Downs. Jockey Javier Castellano will have the mount.
An intriguing prospect in the Swale is Centaur Stable’s Florida homebred gelding Megalith with jockey Rajiv Maragh aboard for trainer Ron Spatz. The son of Trippi finished fifth and ninth in two-turn stakes on turf here early in the meet, but came back to rally to victory in the six-furlong OBS Sprint on Mar. 14 run on the synthetic track at Ocala Training Center.
Completing the field for the Swale are Stud El Aguila’s Indiano, Julien Leparoux; and Zayat Stable’s Black N Beauty, Paco Lopez.
Belmont Winner Drosselmeyer in Skip Away
WinStar Farm’s 2010 Belmont Stakes (G1) hero Drosselmeyer makes his second start since then in the Skip Away Stakes, breaking from the rail in the field of 11 with jockey Garrett Gomez aboard for trainer Bill Mott in the race before the Florida Derby when he rides To Honor and Serve for the Hall of Fame horseman.
Drosselmeyer is a chestnut son of Distorted Humor and went to the sidelines after defeating Fly Down and First Dude in the Belmont. Mott brought him back in the 1 1/16 miles Challenger Stakes at Tampa Bay downs on Mar. 5 and he appeared a bit rusty finishing fourth, beaten 6 ½ lengths.
Other contenders with solid credentials in the Skip Away include Wertheimer et Frere’s Colizeo with Ramon Dominguez aboard for trainer Todd Pletcher and Robert LaPenta and Jacks or Better Farm’s Jackson Bend to be ridden by Jeffrey Sanchez for trainer Stanley Gold.
Colizeo won the Challenger by four lengths as the Kentucky homebred by Distorted Humor made his first start since finishing third in the Ack Ack Handicap (G3) at Churchill Downs on Nov. 5 where he scored in the Northern Dancer Stakes (G3) in June.
Jackson Bend is also on the comeback trail making his second start since finishing fourth in the Ack Ack when trained by Nick Zito. Gold developed the son of Hear No Evil to be a top 2-year-old in 2009 before a majority interest was sold to LaPenta and he was placed with Zito. Jackson Bend ran the race of his life to finish third to Lookin At Lucky in the Preakness Stakes (G1) at Pimlico last spring, beaten less than a length.
Jackson Bend was returned to Gold at Calder this winter to prepare for his comeback and ran quite well to finish fifth in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Handicap (G2) here on Mar. 12, beaten only two lengths for it all by Tackleberry.
Completing the field for the Skip Away are Lothenbach Stable’s Moe Man, Robert LaPenta’s Our Dark Knight, Jack Hammer’s Ron the Greek, Haras Cotacachi’s Gabriel’s Hill, Sherry Parboo’s King Ghidorah, Robert Plersch’s Jardim, Javier Negrete’s Wingedlie and LaPenta’s S.S. Stone.
Little Mike Bids for Third Graded Stakes Win of Meet in Appleton
Priscilla Vaccarezza’s 4-year-old gelding Little Mike has won the Ft. Lauderdale Stakes (G3) and Canadian Turf (G3) over the Gulfstream course at the meet and will likely be the favorite to add Sunday’s 60th edition of the Appleton Stakes to his growing resume with Joe Bravo aboard for trainer Dale Romans.
A Florida homebred by Spanish Steps, Little Mike came to Gulfstream this winter in the care of trainer Allen Iwinski and won the Ft. Lauderdale on Jan. 9. Subsequently transferred to Romans, he finished sixth in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap (G1) on Feb. 5 when he set the pace, although beaten only 2 ½ lengths for it all. Little Mike won the Canadian wire-to-wire by 1 ½ lengths on Feb. 27.
A formidable threat to Little Mike will be J Mack Robinson’s 6-year-old Kentucky homebred and Ramon Dominguez in the saddle for trainer Graham Motion. The son of Cherokee Run finished second by a head behind Courageous Cat in the 2010 Canadian Turf and is on the comeback trail at this meet finishing third and second in two allowance starts.
Completing the field for the Appleton are Lael Stable’s Nicanor, Saleh Al Homaizi’s Sayif, Zayat Stable’s Commandeered, Allen Cheng’s Riviera Cocktail, Live Oak Plantation’s Successful Mission, Joseph Riccelli’s Asphalt, Matsumoto Corp.’s Mikoshi and Rupert Persch’s Jardim.