(Maxfield / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
Ete Indien, who stamped himself a serious Triple Crown prospect in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, emerged well from his dominant 8 ½-length triumph, trainer Patrick Biancone said Sunday.
“Very good,” Biancone said. “He ate all his dinner and he’s happy and sound this morning, which is what you want to see. We’re good.”
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth marked the first graded-stakes triumph for Ete Indien, a 3-year-old son of four-time graded-winning millionaire Summer Front owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, D P Racing and Biancone.
Under Florent Geroux, subbing for injured jockey Luca Panici, Ete Indien led all the way around in the Fountain of Youth, where he broke from the far outside Post 11 following the early scratch of Chance It, who drew Post 12. The winning time was 1:43.02.
“I’m going to be honest with you, he’s impressing me every day when he trains since I’ve had him,” Biancone said. “Yesterday, he had a difficult task. We got a bad draw but everything did go well.”
Ete Indien opened his sophomore campaign running second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 1 at Gulfstream, 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Toledo. The two horses are headed for a rematch in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28, where Tiz the Law figures to be a solid favorite.
Purchased in France as a 2-year-old in training last May for $269,640 by Biancone, Ete Idien debuted last September with a maiden special weight score at Gulfstream. After finishing eighth in the Oct. 6 Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland in his second start, he returned to Gulfstream for a 2 ½-length optional claiming allowance score Dec. 20.
“At this age, it’s just a question of improvement,” Biancone said. “Hopefully he keeps improving and developing the right way. That would be good.”
Biancone also trains Sole Volante, winner of the Pulpit and third in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream who captured the Sam F. Davis (G3) Feb. 8 in his most recent start. Owned in part by Biancone’s daughter, Andie, Sole Volante is scheduled to run next in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) March 7.
Both of Biancone’s Triple Crown prospects are based at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“Maybe it’s too much, I don’t know. We’ll see,” Biancone said. “We don’t want to get overexcited, you know?”
Tiz the Law won the Champagne (G1) in his second start and kicked off his 3-year-old season with a three-length triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull. He has worked once since the race, a half-mile breeze in 50 seconds Feb. 10 at Palm Meadows. Tiz the Law is trained by Barclay Tagg for Sackatoga Stable, the same connections that campaigned 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness (G1) winner Funny Cide.
Ete Indien’s record at Gulfstream gives Biancone reason for optimism heading toward the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, which in its first 68 runnings has seen 44 starters go on to win a remarkable 59 Triple Crown races. Last year’s edition was won by Maximum Security, who was disqualified from victory in the Kentucky Derby and captured the $20 million Saudi Cup Saturday.
“I want to see how he comes back, how he works the next time. He’ll need to improve a little bit to be able to win the Florida Derby,” Biancone said. “We’re here in Florida, he’s training in Florida and we love Florida. I think we’ll take a shot if he’s in good form.”
(Maxfield / Photo by Holly M. Smith)
Godolphin’s Undefeated Maxfield Sharp in Sunday Breeze
Godolphin’s undefeated homebred Maxfield, unraced since taking the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) in his second career start Oct. 6, turned in a sharp half-mile breeze Sunday as he continues to work toward his 3-year-old debut.
It was the third work since mid-February for Maxfield, all over the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream Park’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County.
“He worked really well,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “He worked a half in 49 and went out five-eighths and three-quarters and went out good, so he’s starting to step up a little bit now. The next work or two we’ll have a good idea of where we’re going to go with him, but he’s doing good.”
Maxfield was scratched from a planned start in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) Nov. 1 with a minor foot bruise discovered after training three days before the race. He returned to the work tab Feb. 17, going three furlongs in 38.20 seconds, then went a half in 51.20 Feb. 24.
“We have to see with him because it’ll be a question of, do we take a shot at one of the Derby trials if he’s doing real good or just try to find something a little softer for him off the layoff?” Walsh said. “That’s just the way it is. We’re still not quite decided on it and it’s going to be him that makes the decision for us, really. But, I wouldn’t rule anything in or out.”
Walsh doubted there would be time to make the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28 at Gulfstream, contested at 1 1/8 miles, and said skipping the first leg of the Triple Crown in favor of the Preakness Stakes (G1) May 16 at Pimlico Race Course is also on the table.
“I don’t know if we’d throw him to the wolves off the layoff in something like the Florida Derby. That’s probably unlikely, but I’m saying that like there’s any really softer spots. When you get that close to the [Kentucky] Derby, everybody’s trying to go at it so no matter where you go you’re going to come up against some good ones,” Walsh said. “We’re kind of watching what’s going on with everybody else, too.
“The other thing would be to come back maybe somewhere around Keeneland and run him in the Preakness. That might be the other option,” he added. “It doesn’t matter where he comes back, he’s going to be a good horse this year. It’s just a question about what the timing allows us to do. We’d all love to win the Derby, but on the same point I’m not going to sacrifice a horse like him just for it.”
Walsh said that Vitalogy, scratched by veterinarians from a scheduled run in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, exited his comeback victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Palm Beach (G3) in good order.
“Everything’s good with him this morning. We’re happy with him,” Walsh said. “It was a good spot for him to come back in. He ran a hell of a race and I think he’ll improve a lot for it, too, because we had just enough work in him.”
Gunnevera Back with Sano
Multiple graded-stakes winner Gunnevera, unraced since finishing third in the 2019 Dubai World Cup (G1), is back in South Florida with trainer Antonio Sano.
A winner of more than $5.5 million along with a second-place finish in the 2018 Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), Gunnevera has worked twice for Sano at Gulfstream Park West. The 6-year-old son of Dialed In worked four furlongs Saturday in :49.20. Gunnevera had been sidelined with a fracture in his left hind leg last summer.
“He’s worked very good…very, very good,” said Sano, who saddled Gunnevera to victory in the 2017 Fountain of Youth (G2). “He’s worked the last two weeks. Everything has gone well. Saturday we will breeze him five furlongs. We will get him ready, run maybe April here, and then maybe go to Saratoga.”