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|Quality Road draws away Dunkirk in the stretch run of the 2009 Florida Derby|
78-1 outsider Casey's On Call went to the lead immediately under jockey E.T. Baird, setting an honest pace of 23.49 and 46.83 while being stalked by Quality Road and Theregoesjojo to his outside. Dunkirk was unhurried early, sitting back in 6th wide around both turns. Quality Road took over the lead from the tiring Casey's On Call on the far turn, getting 3/4 in 1:10.66, as jockey Garrett Gomez asked Dunkirk to move up to challenge. At the top of the stretch, Dunkirk got within a length of the leader but Quality Road fought him off through the stretch to prevail by 1 3/4 length at the line, getting the 9 furlong trip in a new track record time of 1:47.72. It was a long 6 lengths back to Theregoesjojo third. Kent Desormeaux aboard Theresgoesjojo claimed foul against John Velazquez on Quality Road for interference at the 1/4 pole but the claim was disallowed by the stewards.
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 2 Quality Road Velazquez 4.40 2.40 2.10 4 Dunkirk Gomez 2.40 2.10 6 Theregoesjojo Desormeaux 2.10 Winning Time: 1:47.72 (new track record) $1 Exacta 2-4 9.00 $2 Trifecta 2-4-6 6.00 $1 Superfecta 3-4-6-9 36.10
Quality Road gets a bath at the barn after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "I was just biding my time. He relaxed. I didn't have to wrestle him going into the backside. I didn't really think it was a lot (objection). He got close to me, but never passed me."
Trainer Jimmy Jerkens added, "Today's effort was terrific. He sat nice for John, didn't give him any trouble, and rated. When we went by the pacesetter, John gave him a breather. That was the whole thing. He didn't open up. He had a lot left to deal with Dunkirk. I'll probably stay (at Palm Meadows) and then go directly to Churchill Downs. We won't race again (until the Derby). It's only five weeks. When he goes to stud, they look for a lot of speed, and he has that (track record)."
Left: Second place finisher Dunkirk at the barn after the race. His trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Quality Road ran a big race. He's (Dunkirk) made huge strides. We'll stick to the plan (go to Kentucky Derby). If he gets in, fine. If not, we'll concentrate on big races down the line. He fell back just a touch more than I would have hoped, but he made a huge move in the final 1/16."
Right: Third place finisher Theregoesjojo gets bath after the race. His trainer Ken McPeek said, "He was up a little closer than usual, but you have to give the winner full credit. He´s a top horse and ran a great race."
There were two other stakes races on the undercard. Immediately before the Florida Derby, a field of 6 three-year-olds sprinted 7 furlongs on the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G2). This Ones for Phil, winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash before disappointing in 10th in the Fountain of Youth, was sent off as the 8-5 favorite over 9-5 second choice Big Drama, winner of 5 straight but unraced since the Delta Jackpot in December. Jockey Eibar Coa sent Big Drama to the front and he was soon joined by This Ones for Phil to his outside. The pair battled it out for almost the entire distance through fractions of 23.01, 45.17, and 1:08.36. In mid stretch, Big Drama came out and bumped This Ones For Phil, then pulled away to finish 1/2 a length in front in what would have been a track record time of 1:20.88. However, due to the interference, the stewards disqualified Big Drama and placed him behind This Ones for Phil.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: This Ones for Phil in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Garrett Gomez said, "The horse ran a beautiful race. We got a good break. I was asking the horse for a little at the half (mile) point and we got going some. (Big Drama) clearly bumped me. All you have to do is watch the tape. In fact he bumped me twice. He did it at the 1/8 pole and again about 50 yards before the wire."
Right: Big Drama leads in the stretch. His trainer David Fawkes said, "What I saw was a new track record and I got taken down. Should he have stayed up? I don't know. I have to watch it again."
The Amy Tarrant trainee improved his record to 8 wins, 2 seconds, and 5 thirds in 27 starts, earning $609,767 for owner Hardacre Farm.
Thanks to Amber Chalfin for the photographs.
2008 Florida Derby won by Big Brown
2007 Florida Derby won by Scat Daddy
2006 Florida Derby won by Barbaro
2005 Florida Derby won by High Fly
2004 Florida Derby won by Friends Lake
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