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2013 Florida Derby Day

horse racing
John Velazquez and Orb after winning the Florida Derby
Photos courtesy of Amber Chalfin
Date: 03/30/2013

The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting is the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1), a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. A field of 10 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon before 20,382 fans under clear skies and temperatures in the mid 70's, with 100 "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points to the winner. As expected, Gulfstream Park Derby and Holy Bull (G2) winner Itsmyluckyday was sent off as the 9-5 favorite over 2-1 Shanghai Bobby, the juvenile champion who was 2nd in the Holy Bull, and 3-1 third choice Orb, winner of the Fountain of Youth (G2).
horse racing
Orb leads down the stretch

Jockey Kent Desormeaux sent 29-1 Merit Man to the lead on the clubhouse turn and he set fractions of 24.74, 48.56, and 1:12.89 over the fast track while pressed by 103-1 longest shot Narvaez. Entering the lane, Itsmyluckyday, 4th early, moved up to take the lead through 1 mile in 1:37.79, but Orb rallied from 5th to take over at the 1/16 pole, drawing off to win by 2 3/4 lengths in 1:50.87. It was another 2 1/4 lengths back to Merit Man third.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 6   Orb                Velazquez     7.80    3.80  3.40
 3   Itsmmyluckyday     Trujillo              3.00  2.60
 8   Merit Man          Desormeaux                  8.60

Winning Time:  1:50.87

$2 Exacta 6-3                23.40
$1 Trifecta 6-3-8           154.70
$1 Superfecta 6-3-8-10    2,430.50
Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Orb in the winner's circle. Trainer Shug McGaughey, celebrating his first Florida Derby said, "The Derby is my dream, but we never tried to overdo it. Hopefully, this is the one who can take us there. Johnny did a good job getting him in position. I got a little nervous on the turn when it looked like he backed up a little bit, but he switched on his right lead and came with his run. I do think he beat a nice horse that finished second."

Right: Orb in the paddock before the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "Once we did that and I asked him he responded right away. It was impressive. Once I asked him he was there for me and I couldn't ask for a better feeling than that."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Itsmyluckyday in the paddock before the race. Trainer Eddie Plesa said, "Orb ran a fantastic race. We finished second and it gets us in the (Kentucky) Derby. That was our goal. Naturally we would have loved to have won but we'll come back and see what happens next time. Am I disappointed? Yes, but I'm also proud of him too. He's done everything we've asked."

Right: Third place finisher Merit Man heads to the paddock. Trainer Bob Hess said, "He ran a super race and got a Hall of Fame ride from Kent Desormeaux, but just got beat. I have a lot of options, just not Kentucky Derby options."

horse racing The distaff counterpart to the Florida Derby is the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (G2) also run at 1 1/8 miles. Dreaming of Julia was sent off as the 8-5 favorite in the field of 6 off a second place finish in the Davona Dale. In to challenge her included 9-5 second choice and Davona Dale winner Live Lively, and 5-2 third choice Emollient, an allowance winner after finishing second in the Demoiselle (G2). Live Lively went to a clear lead through fractions of 23.43, 47.18, and 1:11.16 while stalked by Dreaming of Julia. Into the lane, Dreaming of Julia accelerated past the pacesetter, sprinting away to a 21 3/4 win in 1:48.97. It was another 4 lengths from Live Lively back to 8-1 Call the Moon third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Dreaming of Julia in the winner's circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We felt she was training as well as ever and she was coming up to it in good order. But, honestly, I can't say I was expecting that kind of victory. That was pretty impressive. She seemed like she's trained up to that (last) race well and she ran a good race last time, but obviously, today, she was impressive," Pletcher said. "I felt better that we were able to put ourselves in a good position pretty comfortably and had our sights on (Live Lively). She was travelling really well; she was good today."

Right: Dreaming of Julia in the post parade. Jockey John Velazquez said, "She was a superior horse today. We just wanted to get there, sit comfortably and let her know what she needed to do. We planned the same thing last time. We didn't want to overdo it and go on with the other horses. At one point, I had to put a little pressure on. The difference this time was she was much more ready than the first time she ran, which made it easier."

horse racing
Second place finisher Live Lively in the post parade. Trainer Mark Hennig said, "I'm disappointed, I saw Dreaming of Julia in the paddock and she looked more composed than she did last time. I thought she'd step up. Ours was a bit more stirred up going to the gate. I don't really have an explanation, we just got out run. It was not her best effort."

horse racinghorse racing A field of 10 older fillies and mares went 1 1/2 mile on the turf in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3). 28-1 Closing Range went to the lead on the first of 3 turns, getting fractions of 23.17 and 47.73, and 1:12.26 before 54-1 Game Fair took over down the backstretch through a mile in 1:36.38. At the top of the stretch, 5-1 Irish Mission gained the lead but 8-1 Regalo Mia, 7th early, closed late to win by 2 lengths in 2:23.48. 13-1 Angegreen rallied from last to nose out Irish Mission for second money, while 6-5 favorite Aigue Marine was seventh.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Michelle Nihei said, "Her running style allows her to do so much because she's rideable. She's the kind of horse that likes to take her time. She doesn't need to be rushed. Anything at a mile and an eighth or more was going to suit her perfectly."

Jockey Luis Contreras added, "She kicked very hard at the end. She was so nice and relaxed pretty much all the way. I was in a great position behind the leaders. At the time I asked her at the 1/4 pole she just exploded."

horse racinghorse racing A field of 6 older fillies and mares went 1 1/8 miles on the main track in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G3). 2-5 favorite Ciao Bella set fractions of 24.64, 49.20, and 1:13.07 while stalked by 3-1 Successful Song. Into the stretch Ciao Bella pulled away from the field, finishing up 4 1/2 lengths in front of 7-1 Authenticity in 1:50.06. It was another 11 1/2 lengths back to Successful Song third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "We knew there wasn't a lot of speed in there except for Successful Song. It seemed like (Successful Song) didn't want to be on the lead, so it was pretty easy."

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We were also looking at a race at Aqueduct for Ciao Bella (Ruffian Handicap next Saturday). It was a tough call. I talked it over with Mr. Tabor and decided to keep her here. She was two-for-two over the main track. With the slow fraction Johnny was able to dictate the race. (Authenticity) ran a good race to be second after getting bottled up behind the slow pace. I haven't got any specific plans for them right now."

horse racinghorse racing A field of 9 older horses went 1 3/16 miles in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3). 5-2 Orb set the early pace of 23.92, 48.71, and 1:12.37 while stalked by 5-1 Pants on Fire and 9-5 favorite Cigar Street. At the 3/16 pole, Cigar Street went for the lead, getting the mile in 1:36.93, finishing up 2 lengths ahead of Orb in 1:56.84. It was another 6 3/4 lengths back to Pants on Fire third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Ken McCarthy, assistant to trainer Bill Mott said, It was a little rough for us (Mott stable) watching Dubai earlier and then some of our other horses here today didn't perform up to expectations. We've always thought a lot of this horse. Johnny let him run a little bit out of the gate early to get position for the first turn and then he went on from there to beat some very nice, more seasoned horses like (Orb). I think he'll probably go to Kentucky from here."

horse racinghorse racing A field of 10 older horses went 1 mile on the turf in the $100,000 Appleton Stakes (G3). 33-1 King Kreesa led through opening fractions of 22.92, 45.63, and 1:06.66 over the firm course. At the top of the stretch 2-1 favorite Za Approval, 7th early, came out 5 wide for room and took over, winning by a length over late running 5-1 Beau Choix in 1:32.07. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to King Kreesa third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Chad Brown Christophe Clement said, "The jockey gave a great ride and the horse deserved it. He's a nice horse and has never run a bad race. I'm delighted."

Winning jockey Jose Lezcano added, "My instructions were to let him break, go inside, save some ground and wait to make my move at the 3/8 and it worked perfectly. I saw there was a lot of speed in the race and it worked out great for us."

horse racing The first stakes race on Saturday was the $75,000 Sir Shackleton Handicap featuring a field of 6 older horses sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. 7-2 third choice Action Andy set the pace of 22.50 and 45.13, but at the 3/16 pole 2-1 favorite and last year's winner Travelin Man, 4th early, took over and drew off to win by 4 lengths in 1:16.07. It was another 6 1/2 lengths back to 3-1 second choice Spring Hill Farm third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "I think he ran out of training last time. At the 1/8 pole the layoff showed up on him. I felt like he might rebound from that with a race under his belt he might be a little stronger. We know he loves Gulfstream; it's nice to get him back in the winner's circle."

Thanks to Amber Chalfin for the photographs.

2011 Florida Derby won by Dialed In
2010 Florida Derby won by Ice Box
2009 Florida Derby won by Quality Road
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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