From 11th post, Dance Floor won't be able to waltz to Fla. Derby win

March 13, 1992|By Ross Peddicord | Ross Peddicord,Staff Writer

HALLANDALE, Fla. -- Dance Floor and Pistols And Roses, the 1-2 finishers in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, will switch places in the starting gate for tomorrow's Florida Derby.

Dance Floor, which had the rail in the earlier event, drew the 11 hole yesterday, when 12 horses were entered for the $500,000 race. Pistols And Roses, which had the 10 post position in the Fountain of Youth, moved inside to No. 5.

Gulfstream Park oddsmaker Chuck Streva still made Dance Floor a strong 7-5 favorite.

Streva likened the 3-year-old colt to the older Sea Cadet, who won the Donn Handicap decisively, then reaffirmed that win about a month later with a 7 1/2 -length victory in the Gulfstream Park Handicap.

Streva gives only two horses, Pistols And Roses and Technology, a decent shot to beat Dance Floor.

Sheldon Willis, who owns Pistols And Roses, said the odds are better than decent.

"I heard them call out the No. 5 post, and I thought, 'We've gotcha!' " said Willis. "Dance Floor is going to have to be a super horse to beat us."

Dance Floor, who drew the rail and had a perfect trip in the Fountain of Youth, could encounter traffic problems in the bulky lineup.

But his trainer, Mark Hennig, assistant to D. Wayne Lukas, was not perturbed. "Somebody had to draw the 11 hole," he said.

Technology won his last start in an allowance race on Feb. 22, the same day Dance Floor won the Fountain of Youth Stakes. But trainer Sonny Hine said he is running the colt only because jockey Jerry Bailey urged him to.

"He worked particularly well [six furlongs in 1 minute, 11 2/5 seconds] about a week ago, and Jerry persuaded me to run him," Hine said.

Streva said he "didn't have a clue" about the Venezuelan import, Catire Bello. The horse arrived in Miami Feb. 29 and spent seven days in quarantine, where he was allowed only to be hand-walked an hour a day. Since then, he's had just a week of preparation.

"He is a speed horse and can't be rated," said his owner, Osvaldo Bello. "He can carry his speed long, but it is going to be difficult to beat these American horses."

Catire Bello has been beaten once in seven career starts at the La Rinconada track in Caracas.

Other trainers did not exactly exude confidence. Allen Jerkens told a friend he was running lightly raced After The Beep only to accommodate its owners.

Randy Schulhofer, assistant to his father, Scotty Schulhofer, who trained last year's Florida Derby winner, Fly So Free, said, "We're just taking a shot" with 20-1 Tiger Tiger.

Still there are some true believers among the expected also-rans.

Ethel Lowenbraun and her husband, Stanley, an oncologist, say they don't think the extreme outside post will hurt the chances of their speed horse, Waki Warrior, even though he will have to be hustled early to outrun the 11 other horses to his inside.

"He's just so fast, he will outrun the others," Stanley Lowenbraun said. "He is fast, you know. Very fast."

Despite the excitement of having a horse in a nationally televised race, Ethel Lowenbraun said she couldn't convince everyone in her family to attend.

"My mom is a typical Jewish mother," she said. "She thinks it's all just a lot of fuss. She said she'll come next year when we are sure we have a horse that can win."

NOTES: Gulfstream is carding four other stakes races on Florida Derby Day. There is the Swale Stakes for second string 3-year-olds, the Buckram Oak Handicap for older fillies and mares on the grass, the Gulfstream Park Sprint Championship and the Fort Lauderdale Handicap for 3-year-olds and up. . . . Lukas has the favorite for the Florida Derby, but won't attend the race. "He's staying in California," said stable assistant Hennig. "He's still recovering from an accident when he fell off his lead pony and fractured some ribs. He's doing better, but wants to make sure he's 100 percent by the Kentucky Derby. He's sending his son, Jeff, to saddle the horse."

There are a couple of Maryland connections in the pedigrees of some Florida Derby starters. Dance Floor is a son of Star De Naskra, the Maryland-bred national sprint champion, who was bred by Carlyle "Jiggs" Lancaster at his farm about a mile from the Bowie Training Center. Scream Machine is out of a daughter of Rollicking, Maryland's former champion sire who now is pensioned at Glade Valley Farm near Frederick. . . . Scott Savin, 30, owner of Technology, said he watched the Florida Derby from the roof of a maintenance shed on the backstretch when his grandfather won the race in 1973 with Royal and Regal. "I'm just happy to be old enough to come over and watch the race from the grandstand," he said.

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