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Tulira Castle targeting Florida Derby

Veteran trainer Jim DiVito had high hopes for Curtis Green's Kentucky homebred colt Tulira Castle going into a one-mile allowance test at Gulfstream Park last Saturday, and the son of War Pass re-affirmed his confidence when drawing clear to score by 2 1/3 lengths under jockey Javier Castellano.

"He worked very well since we got here, so I really wasn't worried whether he would handle dirt," DiVito said Friday. "He's run a good race every time. He's got a great disposition and I'm thinking he's a stakes horse now."

Tulira Castle was making his fourth career start after finishing second in his debut on August 9 and breaking his maiden in his second start 21 days later, both coming over Arlington Park's synthetic Polytrack.

The dark bay juvenile finished second again in a Keeneland allowance race in mid-October, once again on an all-weather Polytrack surface.

"I'm thinking about the (Grade 1, $1 million) Florida Derby (on March 30)," DiVito admitted. "It's just a matter of how we get there.

"I haven't ruled out running him back around one turn in the (January 1) Gulfstream Park Derby (going eight furlongs), but I would really rather he went two turns, which I think he'll handle with no trouble.

"The (Grade 3, $400,000) Holy Bull Stakes is definitely a possibility," he added, referring to the 1 1/16-mile affair to be run January 26.

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