More things than just the weather are beginning to heat up. In the Sunshine State its a hodgepodge of stakes. On the three year old front we have the Swale, Florida Derby, Bonnie Miss. All three piled miles high with exciting talent. Then the Rampart will be the center piece of the Distaff division, featuring the Queen of Venezuela in the flesh, as Bambera makes her American debut!
The Swale is not a traditional spot for prepping a potential Derby contender, but in D'Funnybone's case, it just might be. D'Funnybone is widely know as a sprinter, his only effort around two turns being a disaster. However that start was over synthetics, which also could've been the reason for his poor showing. The speedy colt, will likely be a huge favorite, and I personally do not think there is a three year old sprinter capable of catching him. However Pletcher trainee Ibboyee and Dixie Band could rise for the upset if D'Funnybone does not run his usual race.
The Bonnie Miss will be the stakes debut of the red hot Christine Daae. She exploded to the forefront of racing with a nine length romp and a sizzling final time in her maiden. She followed that effort up with an easy three length victory over an allowance group, going 9 furlongs. In the Bonnie Miss, the talented sophomore will face a stiff test in her first graded stakes as she runs into Amen Hallelujah, the romping winner of the Davona Dale. In the Davona Dale, Amen Hallelujah pummeled graded stakes winners Sassy Image and Forward Gal winner, Bickersons. A win here would prove that either should belong at the top of any Kentucky Oaks list.
Bambera, winner of 16 0f her 18 starts will make her four year old and American debut in the Rampart. Bambera figures to use this race as a launching pad to the Apple Blossom Handicap, where she will likely meet the unbeaten California star Zenyatta. Zardana already demonstrated this year how deadly horses from South America can be, when she unseated the reigning Horse of the Year, Rachel Alexandra. If Zardana, a horse not even considered in Bambera's league, could run like that, what will Bambera do?
Finally comes the main event, the Florida Derby. Unfortunately, the star attraction, Eskendereya, was withdrawn from the race and opted for the Wood Memorial. However, trainer Todd Pletcher, will substitute him for the highly regarded son of Roman Ruler, Rule. Rule is coming off a very impressive and easy score in the Sam F. Davis. He is the morning line favorite, though he won't exactly have an easy task. Lentenor, Kentucky Derby winner Barbaro's, little brother, will be making his dirt debut in this race. He has show flashes of talent, but still has been displaying signs of greenness.
Four exciting races, loads of talent? What will this weekend bring? One can only guess, but one thing we do know is that things are definitely starting to heat up.