On the Bubble:
Battle of Midway (Smart Strike), who earned ‘TDN Rising Star’ status off a sharp Jan. 21 maiden win, but then ran third at 4-5 in the GII San Vicente S., will be now be aimed for the GI Santa Anita Derby after a first-level, 1 1/16 miles allowance score at Santa Anita Mar. 9…Santa Anita is reporting that the second- and third-place horses left in the wake of the brilliant but injured Mastery’s scintillating GII San Felipe S score on Saturday are both in the mix for the Santa Anita Derby. Iliad (Ghostzapper) was giving his all but truly looked like he was in another league while trying to reel in the runaway winner, and Term of Art (Tiznow)’s effort was strictly an overmatched, pick-up-the-pieces try. The race came back with a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, the highest of any Triple Crown prep race so far (there have been three previous 102 ratings)…It wouldn’t be a surprise if Gormley (Malibu Moon), who was a well-positioned stalker but cracked under the San Felipe pace pressure, also resurfaced in the signature 3-year-old race over his home track.
‘TDN Rising Star’ Battalion Runner (Unbridled’s Song), a 1-5 allowance winner going long at Gulfstream Feb. 3, is pointing for the Florida Derby. “The main thing we are focused on now is making sure that we do enough with him while he has the added time between races to have him fit and ready to go the mile and the eighth,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “We’re trying to keep him fresh and healthy but also we know we have to be ready to go April 1. I think the way he handled the stretch from seven [furlongs] to a mile and a sixteenth encouraged me that he will take that next step forward in distance.” Always Dreaming (Bodemeister), a colt that is owned by a partnership that includes the same owners of Battalion Runner, also has an outside chance at taking a shot in the Florida Derby after wiring a Gulfstream allowance race on the Fountain of Youth S. undercard. “We also talked about the Florida Derby with Always Dreaming, who came out of the allowance win well, but it’s not likely we would run the two of them against each other,” said Pletcher in reference to Battalion Runner. “But depending upon the size of the field we might consider entering them both in case one of them drew an unfavorable post. But that’s for down the road, when we have more information about how many starters there might be.”
A Mar. 10 bullet five-eighths in :58.80 (1/39) by Oaklawn-based Uncontested (Tiz Wonderful), has caused his connections to reconsider this Saturday’s Rebel S. Last week it was reported that this ‘TDN Rising Star’ would be on hold until the Apr. 15 GI Arkansas Derby, but he’s now “highly probable” to show up in the Rebel field when entries are taken on Wednesday. “The way he came back, he wasn’t winded at all,” co-owner Harry Rosenblum said of his mud-loving Smarty Jones S. winner, who galloped out six furlongs in 1:10.60 and seven in 1:24.80…Untrapped (Trappe Shot), second in both the Risen Star S. and the GIII Lecomte Stakes, and ‘Rising Star’ Malagacy (Shackleford), a 2-for-2 sprinter, are also likely Rebel entrants. Among the Oaklawn-based contingent of Rebel aspirants are the second- through fourth-place finishers out of the Southwest S.—Petrov (Flatter), Lookin At Lee (Lookin At Lucky), and Silver Dust (Tapit)—plus recent maiden-breaker Silver Bullion (Pioneerof the Nile).