Fly So Free is the biggest attraction on the busiest weekend yet for 1991 Triple Crown hopefuls.
The colt is the odds-on favorite in today's $500,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. The race will be simulcast at Pimlico Race Course and the Laurel intertrack outlet. It can be seen on ABC (channels 7, 13), with post time set for 5:08 p.m.
Tomorrow, Maryland's only major prep takes place at Pimlico, as six 3-year-olds go in the $175,000 Federico Tesio Stakes.
Fly So Free, ridden by Jose Santos, is coming into the 1 1/8 -mile Florida Derby "in great shape," according to trainer Flint "Scotty" Schulhofer. Jackie Wackie and Hansel are the probable second and third wagering choices.
If the colt runs well, Schulhofer plans to run him just once more -- the April 13 Blue Grass Stakes -- before the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
Other major weekend preps are the $250,000 Remington Park Derby at Remington Park in Oklahoma City today, and the $200,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif., tomorrow. Both are 1 1/16-mile races.
The Tesio favorite is Haymaker, who has been Maryland's dominant sophomore. His strongest threat figures to be King Mutesa, a New York invader with a 3-for-5 record. Mike Smith will fly in to ride King Mutesa.
Haymaker's trainer, Carlos Garcia, said yesterday, "They'll have to chase me" in the 1 1/8 -mile Tesio. When shown past performances for King Mutesa, who won his last race by a neck but was pronounced "ridden out" by Daily Racing Form, Garcia said: "He didn't beat much in New York. I'm not worried about him.
"The last race for my horse [a victory] didn't take anything out of him. He's ready. I'll meet him back at the spit box [the detention barn, where winners go]."
NOTES: Meadow Star, an unbeaten filly, makes her 1991 debut today at Aqueduct. Last year's champion 2-year-old filly faces five others in a minor stakes at seven furlongs. . . . Eight have been entered in the San Felipe, second of California's three major Triple Crown preps. It should be a terrific race, but because of the lateness of the race (7:45 p.m.), Pimlico and Laurel will not simulcast. . . . Silver Tango puts her 3-for-3 record on the line against six others in today's $40,000-added Forsythia Stakes at Pimlico. . . . Jockey Joe Rocco continued his hot start to the Pimlico meeting. Rocco, who won five races on Thursday's opening day, won two more yesterday. Clever Mary won her third straight when taking the $18,000 feature. . . . Pimlico's Triple Crown Challenge contest begins today.