Strike Power Tunes Up for Xpressbet.com Florida Derby
Mar 16, 2018
Hennig Trainee Breezes 4F in 49.21 Seconds for March 31 Triple Crown Prep
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL
– Courtlandt Farms’ Strike Power breezed an easy half-mile in :49.21 seconds Friday morning at Gulfstream Park while tuning up for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1).
“He finished up really nice. He went off in 25 (seconds) and a bit and finishing in 24 and a bit. He galloped out really nice also,” trainer Mark Hennig said.
Exercise rider Juan Oyola was aboard for Strike Power’s next to last workout in preparation for Gulfstream Park’s signature Triple Crown prep March 31 and the first breeze since finishing second behind Promises Fulfilled in the March 3 Xpressbet.com Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream..
After winning his first two career starts on the front end earlier in Gulfstream’s Championship Meet, Strike Power made his first start around two turns in the Fountain of Youth, chasing the victorious pacesetter before making a bid at the top of the stretch, only to falter and finish 2 ¼-lengths back but another 2 ¼ lengths ahead of odds-on favorite Good Magic.
Strike Power has been enthusiastic in his training since sustaining his first defeat.
“I think there’s a good chance the he will move forward off of that. His attitude has been all about training. He’s been enjoying it,” Hennig said.
Strike Power produced a spectacular debut performance Dec. 23, breaking sharply from his rail post position to dominate his rivals with a front-running eight-length victory. After generating a rare first-out 100-plus Beyer Speed Figure, Strike Power made a successful leap to graded-stakes company, winning the Feb. 3 Swale Stakes (G3) by 2 ¾ lengths.
While demonstrating enormous potential during his three starts, Strike Power has raced somewhat greenly.
“We’ve been working on his leads a little bit. I thought it was important today that once he switched leads at the head of the stretch, he picked it up nice down the stretch,” Hennig said. “He’s really sharp. One thing about him is that he hasn’t backed out of the feed tub at all after that tough race. He ate every oat that night [after the Fountain of Youth] and was ready to go right back at it when he went back to the track. We’re optimistic that he’ll move forward from the race.”
Strike Power already having run three times during the Championship Meet, Hennig has been wary of asking too much of his Triple Crown prospect in his preparation for the Florida Derby.
“There’s a balance of keeping him somewhat fresh and also have him good and tight. I think we can achieve that without going crazy,” he said. “I wouldn’t mind sharpening him up a little bit though [in next week’s workout]. His best asset is his speed and I wouldn’t be opposed to using a little more than that next time.”
Jockey Luis Saez has opted to retain the mount aboard Strike Power, forgoing a chance to ride Gunnevera in the $10 million Dubai World Cup (G1) the same day.
“It makes you think that he feels like there’s another sixteenth in him,” Hennig said.
Strike Power’s trainer expects the Fountain of Youth experience will serve his colt well in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.
“He’s going to go an extra sixteenth, but it’s basically going to be the same route around there. I don’t think it will get as confusing to him as last time,” Hennig said. “I think the first time two turns to a horse like him that had just run 5 ½ (furlongs) two starts earlier was possibly why he got a little confused last time.”
In addition to a rematch with Promises Fulfilled, Strike Power is expected to face Holy Bull (G2) winner Audible and Remsen (G2) winner Catholic Boy in the Florida Derby.
Courtlandt Farms’ Cache also worked a half-mile at Gulfstream Park, timed in a sharp 47.40 seconds.
The Hennig-trained Cache won at first asking Jan. 27 by 2 ¾ lengths before jumping right into Grade 2 company in the March 3 Davona Dale, in which she finished fifth.
“I’m kind of letting her show me what she wants to do. In a perfect world I would have liked to have run her in an allowance race after the maiden win. I didn’t think she got a good trip at all, so I made some equipment changes on her and she breezed excellent this morning,” Hennig said. “If she kept going forward, I would consider going back in the Gulfstream Oaks.”
The $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) will be among six supporting stakes on the Florida Derby program.