Likely heavy favorite Uncle Mo will face five outclassed rivals in the $100,000 Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park.
The 2-year-old Eclipse champion, trained by Todd Pletcher, has been working well in South Florida at Palm Meadows since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile by 4 ¼ lengths, with jockey John R. Velazquez aboard at Churchill Downs on Nov. 6.
“The goal is to have this race set him up nicely for the Wood Memorial (on April 9) and to have a happy and healthy horse for the Kentucky Derby,” owner Mike Repole told the Daily Racing Form.
“He’s training so well at Palm Meadows and it is very similar to the surface at Gulfstream. The ship (distance) is 20 minutes versus a four and a half hours ship (to Tampa Bay Downs for the Tampa Bay Derby). The surface at Tampa is way different. We know he can get two turns. He proved that already in the Breeders’ Cup. I just thought that it was just the right move for the horse.”
The son of Indian Charlie’s opposition includes Rocking Out, the most dangerous rival with Julien Leparoux in the irons. The son of Include won his debut by 4 ¼ lengths at Aqueduct going six furlongs on Nov. 27, followed by a third-place finish in a mile allowance race on Feb. 13 as the 11-to-10 favorite. That’s the same distance as Saturday’s stakes contest.
Completing the field are Gallant Dreams, with Javier Castellano up; Rattlesnake Bridge, Jose Lezcano; Schoolyard Cat, Ryan Curatolo; and Madman Diaries, John Sanchez.
Pletcher also will send out Brethren in the $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby on Saturday. The son of Distorted Humor won the Sam F. Davis Stakes on Feb. 12.
Brethren’s half-brother Super Saver ran third in the 2010 Tampa Bay Derby before capturing the Kentucky Derby.
The field for the 1 1/8-mile contest includes Too Experience, runner-up in the Sam Davis Stakes, who ran first five times and second once in his seven-race career. Davis third-place finisher Watch Me Go and fourth-place runner Beamer are in the field.
Bench Points, an undefeated California-bred son of Benchmark is hoping to prove he’s a Triple Crown contender when he seeks his fifth victory in the $250,000 San Felipe Stakes at 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita Park on Saturday.
Bench Points recorded victories in two $100,000 stakes races at Del Mar as a 2-year-old, and was an impressive allowance winner at Santa Anita on Feb. 11. But the San Felipe would be his first race around two turns and will determine whether he embarks further on the Triple Crown trail. He has no graded earnings to date.
Other possible runners are Albergatti, with Garrett Gomez up; Comma to the Top, Corey Nakatani; Jaycito, Martin Garcia; Premier Pegasus, Alonso Quinonez; Runflatout, Joel Rosario; and Surrey Star, Joe Talamo.