Opinions about 3-year-old Thoroughbreds run rampant this time of year. But a lot of racing fans took notice when long-time observer Steve Haskin moved Win Win Win into the top half of his “Derby Dozen” rankings following the colt's record-shattering victory in the 7-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa on Jan. 19.
This week, Haskin raised Win Win Win to the No. 4 spot, behind trainer Bob Baffert's 1-2 punch of Game Winner and Improbable and Grade II Risen Star Stakes presented by Lamarque Ford winner War of Will. As if to affirm Haskin's high opinion, Win Win Win breezed 5 furlongs from the Tampa Bay Downs starting gate this morning in 59 1/5 seconds with Antonio Gallardo aboard, the fastest of 33 recorded times at the distance.
The Live Oak Plantation homebred, who is among 54 nominees for the 39th renewal of the Grade II, $400,000 Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby on Festival Day 39 on March 9, appears ready to take the next step toward a berth in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve on May 4.
First things first, but even veteran trainer Michael Trombetta, who saddled Sweetnorthernsaint to a Kentucky Derby appearance and a second-place Preakness finish to Bernardini in 2006, is starting to get that faraway, springtime-in-Louisville look.
“He (Win Win Win) is one of those kind of horses that does what you tell him to do. If I want him to work a half-mile in 52 seconds he does it, and if I need him to work faster than that he'll do that, too,” Trombetta said. “I've made several trips here to watch him work (since the Pasco), and he is doing everything I would have hoped for going into (the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby).
“He's very willing to do whatever you need him to do, and when you ask him to do more, he does more.”
What Win Win Win hasn't done in his four-race career, as Trombetta is quick to acknowledge, is race around two turns. That would change in the Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby, contested at a distance of a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the main track.
The Florida-bred's breeding would suggest he'll go even farther than eight-and-a-half furlongs; both his paternal and maternal grandsires, Sunday Silence and Smarty Jones, won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and finished second in the Belmont. But there are no guarantees at this level, and Trombetta knows March 9 is something of an acid test for his promising youngster.
“We're hoping he can get us to those distances, but I truly don't know. He needs to show that he's good enough to do that – they all do,” Trombetta said. “There will be plenty of good horses in that starting gate as they're all starting to converge on these bigger races, so this is the next test.
“We've been putting some nice gallops and nice breezes under him and he is doing everything he's supposed to, so I'm as anxious as anyone else to see what he will do.”
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