Zulu ‘On Schedule’ for Stakes Debut in Fountain of Youth (G2) Awesome Speed Sharp in Final Breeze for Fountain of Youth (G2)
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Undefeated Zulu breezed four furlongs at Palm Beach Downs Sunday in 48.21 seconds in preparation for his scheduled stakes debut in Saturday’s $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park.
“It went very well. He went in 48-and-1 (seconds). He breezed by himself with John Velazquez aboard. He got into a nice comfortable rhythm and clicked off 12s around there all the way around,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “He looked good and galloped out well. I’m very happy with it. All is on schedule.”
Owned by Stonestreet Stables, Michael Tabor, Susan Magnier and Derrick Smith, Zulu debuted at Gulfstream on opening day of the Championship Meet Dec. 5, scoring by two lengths while running six furlongs in 1:10.08. The son of Bernardini returned on Jan. 15 to captured a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance by 7 ½ lengths.
Pletcher has enjoyed tremendous success with lightly raced 3-year-olds the past two years, capturing the Florida Derby (G1) with Constitution (2014) and Materiality (2015), who each had captured Gulfstream’s signature race off only two career starts.
“We certainly could have opted for an easier spot and shipped out of town somewhere,” the defending 12-time Championship Meet titlist said. “We just felt like he’s 2-for-2 at Gulfstream. It’s nice to keep him on a consistent path where he’s familiar with where he’s running. We know he likes the surface, but it’s obviously a tall order.”
Zulu is set to challenge undefeated Mohaymen, who captured the Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream last time out, and undefeated Awesome Banner, who is coming off back-to-back victories in the Hutcheson (G3) and Swale (G2), among other more experienced 3-year-olds.
Awesome Speed Sharp in Final Breeze for Fountain of Youth (G2)
Colts Neck Stables’ Awesome Speed, a winner of three straight including the Jan. 2 Mucho Macho Man Stakes, signaled his readiness for the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 27 with a sharp final work Sunday morning.
With trainer Alan Goldberg in town to watch, the 3-year-old Awesome Again colt was timed in 48.30 seconds for a half-mile over the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
It was the fourth breeze for Awesome Speed since his 1 ¼-length victory in the one-mile Mucho Macho Man and third straight bullet work. Sunday’s move was the fastest of 45 horses at the distance.
“He went great,” Goldberg said. “He got off in 13 [seconds], went 48 and 1 or 2, galloped out in a minute and change, and galloped out three-quarters in 1:14. He came back fine and not blowing. Everything is all good. We’re ready.”
A non-threatening seventh in his career bow last August at Parx, Awesome Speed broke his maiden at Laurel last fall and returned there to take the six-furlong James F. Lewis III Stakes in November to cap his juvenile season.
He successfully stretched out in the Mucho Macho Man and will be making his first trip around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth.
“He’s coming into the race great,” Goldberg said. “We’ve got six more days, everything’s all good. Hopefully there won’t be any hiccups.”
Divisidero Confirmed for Saturday’s Grade 3 Canadian Turf
Divisidero, Gunpowder Farms’ exciting Grade 2 turf winner, is slated to make his 2016 debut in Saturday’s $150,000 Canadian Turf (G3) at Gulfstream Park.
“He’s been breezing well for his comeback and has been doing everything right,” said trainer Buff Bradley, whose stretch-running 4-year-old tuned up for the Canadian Saturday with a five-furlong workout in 47.87 second.
Divisidero hasn’t raced since finishing a disappointing seventh-place finish in the Belmont Derby (G1) July 4.
“He went straight from the racetrack right to the pasture. He needed some time to mature. He checked out good at the clinic. We felt like there wasn’t a whole lot left in the 3-year-old division for him,” Bradley said. “He filled out and gained some weight and really looked good when he came back to me. He looked like a different horse when he came back to me. He’d gotten time to mature, which I think is the key for these horses turning from 3 to 4 and facing older horses.”
Divisidero debuted at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 7, 2015 with an eye-catching triumph, surging from 11th at the top of the stretch to score by a half-length. He returned to action a month later in the Palm Beach (G3), in which he rallied late to finish third, beaten by three-quarters of a length, after being forced six-wide on the final turn and being steadied at the eighth-pole.
“That was the thing with us bringing him back here to get back on the turf course where he started and ran well on,” Bradley said. “He broke his maiden in his first race and it looked like he was going to win the stake race in his second, but he just got in trouble.”
The son of Kitten’s Joy followed up the Palm Beach outing with a late-running triumph in the American Turf (G2) at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day. He tuned up for the Belmont Derby with a victory in the Pennine Ridge Stakes at Belmont May 30.