TURF TEN

By Nick Hahn

Pluck returns to the turf in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance on Saturday.

A top ten look at three-year old turf winners in the United States within the last six months, perhaps with thoughts of the Twin Turf at Colonial Downs.

We may finally get a solid look at the turf prospects as the weekend features the $150,000 Palm Beach (gr. IIIT), the rescheduled $60,000 Grindstone from the Fairgrounds that was washed out last weekend and just in, Pluck making his first since winning the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance turf race. Four Virginia Derby winners collected the Palm Beach on their way to Colonial’s winners circle; Orchard Park 2002, Kitten’s Joy 2004, Go Between 2006, and last year, Paddy O’Prado.

1) PLUCK – After breezing 4 furlongs on March 4th, Pletcher places last year’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf winner in an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs on the turf coming up this Saturday for last autumn’s Breeder’s Cup Juvenile winner. He remains the top contender for Keeneland’s Transylvania on April 8th and then likely an Irish 2000 Guineas candidate.

2) SOLDAT – With his winning effort on the dirt, Soldat may have the best resume on any surface in this group which makes him unlikely to see the turf until and unless things don’t work out in the Triple Crown.

3) ROGUE ROMANCE – The Louisiana Derby is next for the 2010 Bourbon winner on the Keeneland turf. In the Risen Star this Smarty Jones colt had no clear shot at the wire until late in the stretch. He’s in a similar spot as Soldat, but more likely bit more likely to return to the turf sooner.  (Update-just as this piece is being posted, the Bloodhorse is reporting that a slight heel bruise will cause Rogue Romance to miss the Louisiana Derby.)

4) KING CONGIE – Despite being placed third appropriately for interference in the Hallandale stretch, Albertrani’s Tropical Park Derby winner crossed the wire first in his last three starts, all on the turf.

5) DATA LINK – Data Link also crossed the wire in his last three starts on the turf, all at a mile and a sixteenth under various turf conditions. McGaughey could switch him to the dirt in the Bluegrass or the Spiral.

6) MASTER DUNKER – Don’t let the fact that “The Master” was put up as the Halladale Beach winner make you think less of him. He has been steadily showing results since being switched to the turf.

7) SILVER MEDALLION – The El Camino Real Derby winner on synthetic also won a New Year’s Eve turf race at Santa Anita (Eddie Logan). Now nominated for the Spiral Stakes, perhaps Asmussen won’t take him to Dubai after all.

8) CRIMSON CHINA – His first US start was an optional allowance win on the turf at a mile and an eighth over former Turf Ten participant Ari C. Motion’s Giant Causeway colt is tentatively fingered for the Spiral or the Bluegrass.

9) QUEENSPLATEKITTEN – Ken and Sara Ramsey’s Canadian-bred is sired by 2004 Virginia Derby winner Kitten’s Joy and won at a mile on the turf at Gulfstream in February for his second straight win.

10) WILLCOX INN – Third place finisher in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf had to wait an extra week to make his 2011 debut in the Grindstone (ML favorite) for trainer Michael Stidham.

Another to watch….

SWAGGER JACK – No Virginia-bred has ever won the Colonial Turf Cup or the Virginia Derby. However with Swagger Jack’s maiden breaking score at Gulfstream Park, Silverton Hill has a Virginia-bred by the Estate of Edward P. Evans that will be one to watch throughout the spring.