HALLANDALE, Fla. — California doesn't have a corner on 3-year-old fillies good enough to run against colts. Florida-based Three Ring, who beat fillies by 14 3/4 lengths in her last race, is the 5-1 third choice on the morning line for Saturday's $750,000 Florida Derby, although trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. may not run her.
But if Three Ring does run Saturday at Gulfstream Park, she would make this year's preliminaries to the Kentucky Derby even more intriguing. California alone is making this one of the most promising seasons in years for 3-year-old fillies. Trainer Bobby Frankel ran Honest Lady against the boys in the San Rafael Stakes at Santa Anita, and even though she finished fifth, that was only one length behind winner Desert Hero. Honest Lady will get another chance April 3 in the Santa Anita Derby.
Trainer Bob Baffert is running two exceptional fillies this weekend, 1998 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Silverbulletday in Saturday's Fair Grounds Oaks in New Orleans and Excellent Meeting in Sunday's Santa Anita Oaks. The Santa Anita Derby is on Excellent Meeting's tentative schedule.
Enter Three Ring, who ran third behind Silverbulletday and Excellent Meeting in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in November at Churchill Downs. Three Ring ran second, beaten by a neck, in her 1999 debut, but then three weeks ago at Gulfstream she wore blinkers for the first time and pulled away from the field in the Davona Dale Stakes. Students of time gave her a higher rating than Vicar, who won the Fountain of Youth Stakes the day before.