Hallandale Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Friday afternoon at Gulfstream Park, trainer Todd Pletcher saddled another 3-year-old with a possible trip to the Kentucky Derby in his future.
Commissioner, ridden by Jose Lezcano, won a $48,750 entry-level optional claiming allowance in his first start of the 2014 racing season. The 6-1 fifth betting choice posted a neck victory over Top Billing.
"It was a good educational trip," Pletcher said. "It was a big effort. It was his first race since Saratoga. He's a big powerful horse. He's still improving, still learning to run. He's still learning to finish and focus, so I think there's room for improvement."
Owned and bred by WinStar Farm, Commissioner broke his maiden in a 1 1/8-mile maiden race at Saratoga on Aug. 28 shortly after finishing second earlier in the month at Monmouth Park.
"It was kind of a tactical plan to give him some time off and bring him back for his 3-year-old campaign in mind," Pletcher said Friday. "Most of the A.P. Indys I've been around get better as they get older. To see what he did today was very encouraging.
"We've got a lot of options. I like the mile and an eighth, but we won't have a mile-and-an-eighth option before the Florida Derby (March 29), so we might have to back up to a mile and a sixteenth. We'll see how he bounces out of it, but you have to put the Fountain of Youth (Feb. 22) in the mix."
Pletcher's other horse in Friday's race, Ichiban Warrior, was the 3-1 third choice who finished fourth in the eight-horse field after leading into the stretch.