Booklet complete package in Florida

Colt seeks to sweep 3-year-old stakes

Horse Racing

March 14, 2002|By Tom Keyser | Tom Keyser,SUN STAFF

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Perhaps it's the name: Booklet. It's not "Novel" or "Epic" or even "Abridged Version."

It's just Booklet. He gets no respect.

Booklet is a smallish bay colt, a son of Notebook, who has won six of his seven races. He could become the first horse ever to sweep Gulfstream Park's three major stakes for 3-year-olds: the Holy Bull Stakes, Fountain of Youth Stakes and Florida Derby.

He already has won the $100,000 Holy Bull and $200,000 Fountain of Youth, and he will compete Saturday in the $1 million Florida Derby. You'd think he'd be the heavy favorite.

But when the morning-line odds were released at yesterday's post-position draw, Harlan's Holiday was the favorite. And Harlan's Holiday finished second to Booklet in the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth.

What gives?

"You know, that's a question I keep on asking myself," said John Ward Jr., Booklet's trainer. "I'll have to say that people don't like horses that run to the front, especially if they're trying to predict who's going to win the Kentucky Derby.

"I think that's about the only reason. I wouldn't trade my place for anybody in the game right now."

Booklet is a feisty little runner who zips to the lead but then has the good sense to relax and settle into stride. When horses challenge down the stretch, Booklet seems to relish the fight. He lengthens stride, lowers his head and drives to the wire.

His style differs greatly from that of Monarchos, Ward's charge who won the Kentucky Derby last year after capturing the Florida Derby. Monarchos lagged behind and then picked off horses one by one on his charge to the finish.

Ward said that Booklet's style and modest pedigree, although not popular with Kentucky Derby aficionados, don't concern him.

"Distance doesn't bother me because when you watch this horse train in the morning, he is like a marathon runner, a human athlete," Ward said. "He's got a turn a foot, and then he can get into a cadence. And the cadence he gets into, the stride, is really unbelievable, because I've never really seen him give it up."

Despite Ward's endorsement, Booklet ranked second in the morning line at 4-1. Harlan's Holiday gained the nod at 5-2, the reasoning being that the 1 1/8 miles of the Florida Derby provide him the necessary extra distance finally to overhaul Booklet, something he couldn't do in the 1 1/16 miles of the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth.

Booklet endured one final snub when entries were announced for the Florida Derby. Ten horses were entered against him, proving once and for all that no one fears the little horse with the pint-sized name.

NOTES: Smooth Jazz was a surprise entrant. He won both starts this year at Aqueduct for Laurel-based Tony Dutrow. Two weeks ago, Dutrow sold the colt to Michael Tabor, who shipped him to trainer Todd Pletcher at Gulfstream. ... Stephentown, an expected entrant, was held out after jamming a shoulder during a Tuesday gallop.

In other horse-racing news, Laurel-based Xtra Heat is ranked No. 1 among all horses in this week's National Thoroughbred Racing Association poll. The 4-year-old filly is in Dubai preparing for a $2 million sprint race March 23 on the undercard of the Dubai World Cup. ...

Cigar, earner of a record $9,999,815 and winner of 13 of 33 races before retiring at 6 in 1996, is a finalist for election this year into the Racing Hall of Fame. Other finalists for contemporary male horse are Ancient Title and Precisionist. Dance Smartly, Flawlessly and Serena' Son were nominated among contemporary female horses.

Bud Delp, Sonny Hine and Mel Stute are finalists as trainer. Kent Desormeaux, Eddie Maple and Jack Westrope are finalists as jockey. One individual in each category will be chosen for induction Aug. 5 in Saratoga Springs, N.Y.

Florida Derby

Where: Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, Fla., Saturday

Purse: $1 million

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Post time: 5:40 p.m. TV: 5-6 p.m. ESPN

Field for Florida Derby

PP Horse Trainer Jockey Record Earnings Last race Odds

1 Monthir Mark Hennig Pat Day 8:1-4-0 $101,280 4th Gulfstream allowance 6-1

2 Harlan's Holiday Ken McPeek Edgar Prado 8:4-4-0 $401,564 2nd Fountain of Youth Stakes 5-2

3 Nokoma Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 5:2-1-0 $94,060 1st Gulfstream allowance 5-1*

4 Booklet John Ward Jr. Jorge Chavez 7:6-0-1 $519,700 1st Fountain of Youth Stakes 4-1

5 Peekskill Tony Reinstedler Jose Santos 7:1-1-1 $38,465 5th Palm Beach Stakes 15-1

6 Smooth Jazz Todd Pletcher John Velazquez 2:2-0-0 $74,370 1st Best Turn Stakes 5-1*

7 Puck Bill White Cornelio Velazquez 4:1-2-1 $31,205 2nd Gulfstream allowance 15-1

8 High Star Nick Zito Gary Stevens 6:2-1-1 $78,300 2nd Gulfstream allowance 8-1

9 D'Coach Shug McGaughey Javier Castellano 4:1-2-1 $59,138 2nd Whirlaway Stakes 10-1

10 Personal Reward Mark Hennig Eibar Coa 4:2-0-0 $44,520 1st Gulfstream allowance 20-1 11 Blue Burner Bill Mott Jerry Bailey 4:3-0-1 $86,800 3rd Fountain of Youth Stakes 8-1

* - Nokoma and Smooth Jazz coupled in betting because of common ownership; if both run one will require a different jockey.

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