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2014 Florida Derby Day

horse racing
Javier Castellano celebrates after winning the Florida Derby aboard Constitution
Photos courtesy of Amber Chalfin
Date: 03/29/2014

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 8 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon under cloudy skies and temperatures in the mid 80 s, with 100 "Road to the Kentucky Derby" points to the winner. Holy Bull (G2) and Nashua (G2) winner Cairo Prince was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 3-1 second choice Constitution, making his stakes debut undefeated in 2 lifetime starts, and 4-1 third choice Wildcat Red, winner of the Hutcheson (G3) and the Fountain of Youth (G2), the major local prep for this race.
horse racing
The start of the Florida Derby

Jockey John Velazquez sent Wildcat Red to the lead first time by and he set easy fractions of 24.01, 48.19, and 1:12.00 over the fast track while stalked by 9-2 fourth choice General A Rod and Constitution. Entering the stretch, Constitution moved up to challenge Wildcat Red, setting up a duel to the line through 1 mile in 1:36.46. Constitution outfinished Wildcat Red late to win by a neck in 1:49.16. It was another 1 1/4 lengths back to General A Rod third, and another 2 1/4 back to favorite Cairo Prince fourth.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 4   Constitution       Castellano    8.60    4.20  3.60
 1   Wildcat Red        Velazquez             4.80  3.40
 6   General a Rod      Rosario                     3.40

Winning Time:  1:49.16

$2 Exacta 4-1                38.20
$1 Trifecta 4-1-6            53.00
$0.10 Superfecta 4-1-6-3      9.54
Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Constitution heads to the winner s circle. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, Wildcat Red was a bit off the rail down the backside. I saw Johnny (on Wildcat Red) take a look back like he knew Javier was there, but by that point the seam was kind of open. In his first start, he didn t break well at all and he rushed up the rail. He was in a pretty long duel that day and I thought he showed that type of potential. Wildcat Red is a fighter. You know that if you get to him, you re going to have to keep working. It looked like they were both finding more and it looked like in the last 50, 60 yards he found a little more. We were maybe putting all of our eggs in one basket, but the Florida Derby was the plan that we were all comfortable with. If it happened, fine, and if it didn t, then the timing just wasn t right for him this year. Luckily for us it all fell into place."

Right: Constitution returns after the race. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I took a shot (staying on the rail). It s race-riding. Sometimes you have to anticipate what s going to happen in the race and you study the jockeys. I know that Johnny (Velazquez, on Wildcat Red) isn t going to open the rail for anybody. I took a shot and his horse didn t help him much when he tried to drift a little. I cut the corner and it worked out great for me. I didn t want to get to the hole and move too soon, a premature move. My mount is a young horse and stretching out to a mile and an eighth. You want to take consideration and save something for the end. I didn t want to check and lose the race like that. I had my spot and I kept it all the way to the top of the stretch."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Wildcat Red in the paddock before the race. Trainer Jose Garoffalo said, "We lost the rail at one point and Castellano was smart enough to take the rail at the top of the stretch, and that was it. It was a hell of a race. I think we re thinking seriously to go to Kentucky if the horse comes back in good shape. I m not disappointed, it was a hell of a race, he did a great job and he was himself like he usually is. We just got beat (by almost nothing). I think (Javier) Castellano (on Constitution) was very, very smart and took the rail, and that was the difference. That s why we lost the race. He never quit running."

Right: Third place finisher General a Rod returns after the race. Jockey Joel Rosario said, "It took him a little bit to keep him going and Johnny already had a good position on the outside he was coming out a little bit and I just followed him the whole way and opened up the inside a little bit and Constitution came through the rail and it was over from there. My horse ran great and tried very hard. He ran a great race. It was a little quick, but thats how it goes sometimes, I guess we were third best today."
horse racing

horse racingLeft: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Cairo Prince after the finish. Jockey Luis Saez said, "I had a pretty good trip. He broke so well. We got a clear position at the 5/8 pole and then he was making his move, but when the other horses kept running, he got a little tired. He s better than that. He s a good, nice horse."

Right: The Florida Derby trophy displayed before the race.



horse racing The distaff counterpart to the Florida Derby is the $300,000 Gulfstream Oaks (G2) also run at 1 1/8 miles, worth 100 points to the winner in the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. In Tune was sent off as the even-money favorite in the field of 7 over 9-2 House Rules and 6-1 Joint Return. 13-2 Whomping Willow went to the lead and set fractions of 24.03, 47.67, and 1:11.30 while stalked by In Tune. Entering the stretch, In Tune took over the lead through 1 mile in 1:36.74 and held off late-running House Rules by a neck in 1:50.19. It was a long 3 3/4 lengths back to 7-1 America third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: In Tune heads to the winner s circle. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "It s rare that you have one come along this quickly, a short maiden to a long a other than to a graded stakes. She stepped up in class and distance each time and passed every test, so I m very proud of her. She showed a lot of courage down the lane. We anticipated that there would be some other speed in there so we felt like with our post position (6) that we could sit off of it if we needed to. It pretty much unfolded like we thought."

Right: In Tune in the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "She s an amazing filly. She was really fighting. When she saw that other filly coming, she took off gain. She s undefeated. I give all the credit to the filly. She was stretching out today, and she was wonderful."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher House Rules in the post parade. The Allen Jerkens trainee improved her record to 1 win, 3 seconds, and 0 thirds in 6 starts, earning $134,720 for owner Joseph Shields Jr.

Right: Third place finisher America in the post parade.



horse racinghorse racing A field of 8 older fillies and mares went 1 1/2 miles on the turf in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3). 5-1 fourth choice Anjaz went to the rail and to the lead under Rajiv Maragh and set fractions of 24.74, 49.18, 1:14.17, and 1:39.98 while stalked by 7-1 Viva Rafaela. Entering the stretch through 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.50, Anjaz began to draw away from Viva Rafaela, cruising past the post 2 1/2 lengths in fronty in 2:24.70 over the firm course. It was another 1 3/4 lengths back to late-running 11-1 Clearbrook third, while 9-5 favorite Aigue Marine checked in 6th,

Results Chart from DRF.

Joe Murphy, assistant to trainer Tom Albertrani said, "Tommy would be very pleased (with Anjaz). He did a great job with her, and I think she can do a little bit more. They ve been struggling with her, and it s just a relief. Everyone s overjoyed, and that s what people want. Races coming off the track and not being able to get a run and doing something in the gate, we were able to fix it. We worked hard, and it worked out. When I saw 49 I knew she d be playing with them. Rajiv held her together, and that s all we wanted to do. It worked out. I couldn t have foreseen that. I d be lying."

Jockey Rajiv Maragh added, "She broke really sharp and took me around the track very comfortably in the beginning, and I had a lot left to finish with. Once she established the lead, it was 1 1/2 miles so everyone was pretty much being patient with a long distance to go. All the horses got into a nice flow. It was a pretty steady kind of race. I was fortunate to get it easy, and I ll take it like that. It worked out pretty good."



horse racinghorse racing Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday, a field of 6 older fillies and mares went 1 1/8 miles on the main track in the $150,000 Rampart Stakes (G3). 1-2 favorite Devil s Cave set fractions of 24.12, 47.67, and 1:10.78 while stalked by 2-1 second choice Unlimited Budget. In the stretch after 1 mile in 1:36/04, 49-1 longest shot Gamay Noir closed from last to get up by 3/4 length over Unlimited Budget in 1:49.84. It was a neck back to Devil s Cave third. There was a stewards inquiry into the stretch run but the result stood.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning jockey Paco Lopez said, "(At the top of the stretch) I had a lot of horse, and (Private Ensign) came over and forced me to come out. I put my horse outside and she came over just a little bit and I took a hold, and my filly didn t have a problem. I went right by the other horse. I told (the stewards), I didn t bump the horse. I didn t come over on the horse - you can look. I took a hold and moved her away. I didn t hit her with the whip, nothing. It didn t affect the race and I had a lot of horse."

Winning trainer Marty Wolfson said, "It was too much weight on (Devil s Cave), and I didn t think (Unlimited Budget) was going to push her like that. I claimed her for running a route on dirt. When I ran her in Tampa she got in all kinds of trouble. She should have won. Paco rode her just like I wanted, where she makes one run, 3/8 mile on the outside."



horse racinghorse racing A field of 10 older horses went 1 3/16 miles in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3). 37-1 Sr. Quisqueyano and 9-2 Nevada Kid battled for the lead through fractions of 24.06, 47.55, and 1:11.07 while stalked by 4-1 Micromanage. At the top of the lane, Micromanage gained the lead and drew off to win by 4 1/4 lengths over late-running 5-1 Norumbega in 1:55.36. It was another 3 lengths back to Sr. Quisqueyano third, while 3-1 favorite War Dancer was 7th.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I had a beautiful trip. It worked out beautiful. On the backside, my horse kept track of the two speed horses. We had a beautiful spot and at the half-mile pole I knew I had it. I felt it, that we would win the race." Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "It worked out beautifully. He got a great trip from the outside, he was able to get over and save some ground on the first turn with a stalking position. The race I really want to get him ready for is the Brooklyn on Belmont Day. The 1 1/2 miles will suit him well. We ll probably run him somewhere in between that, but I m not sure where yet."



horse racinghorse racing Immediately before the Florida Derby, a field of 10 older horses went 1 1/2 miles on the turf in the $200,000 Pan American Stakes (G2). 23-1 Joes Blazing Aaron set the pace of 24.03, 47.50, 1:12.29, and 1:36.18 while stalked by 10-1 Joha and 108-1 Russian Greek. At the top the lane, Joes Blazing Aaron opened up a 2 1/2 length lead but soon tired, as 5-1 Newsdad, last early, outfinished 12-1 Vertiformer by a neck to win in 2:22.77, just 0.14 seconds off Twilight Eclipse s course record. It was just 1/2 a length back to 2-1 favorite Slumber third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "At the 1/16 pole, it looked like anything could happen. It was a good race. I thought he might run well. He s had a long layoff, and this was only his second start back. I wasn t sure if he was totally there yet. But he fired well today. We thought we d probably be laying a little bit closer. I knew the horses that had speed. Of course, I took the blinkers off this horse and it probably caused him to relax a little bit more in the first part of it."

Winning jockey Joel Rosario added, "They went a little quick early and he s a big horse and broke a little slow. I just let him sit in behind horses and hoped he had something turning for home and he did."



horse racinghorse racing A field of 9 older horses went 1 mile on the turf in the $100,000 Appleton Stakes (G3). 5-2 second choice Mr. Online set the pace of 23.81, 46.89, and 1:09.02 while stalked by 57-1 Grand Tito and 2-1 favorite Salto. Mr. Online opened up a 2 1/2 length lead in midstretch through 7/8 in 1:20.48 but 12-1 Hey Leroy, last early, came out wide for room to get up by a neck in 1:32.49. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back from Mr. Online to Salto third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Manuel Azpurua said, "Going into the stretch, I told the rider, Don t give him too much, and he did a nice ride because he took care of the horse, and the horse finished strong like he always does. He s going to be a nice horse, and he showed so far that he can make it. We re going to take it easy on him now and wait for the right spot for him."

Winning jockey Alex Solis added, "I saw a lot of guys sending to the lead so I just took a hold and took back, dropped down to the rail and saved some ground. When I got to the backside, I started getting a forward position and got him going at the 3/8 pole. At the 1/4 pole I thought, I have a good chance here. He was giving his heart and down the stretch he gave even more. At the eighth pole I thought I would get there because he was really running and the other horse was stopping."



horse racinghorse racing The $100,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes featuring a field of 6 older horses sprinting 6 1/2 furlongs on the main track. 5-2 second choice Happy My Way went to the lead exiting the chute and set fractions of 22.40 and 44.30 while stalked by 8-5 favorite Ribo Bobo. At the top of the lane, Happy My Way kicked away from the field, finishing up 5 3/4 lengths ahead of 4-1 Dad z Laugh in 1:14.65, just 0.22 seconds off Forest Danger s track record. It was a long 4 lengths back to Ribo Bobo third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Joe Orseno said, "The horse always trained fast. I tried to do different things with him. I even tried to stretch him out. And then, finally, I said, He wants to be fast, so let him be fast, " Orseno said. "I trained him a little differently, changed some things that made him a little happier. He s responded beyond my belief. Off a performance like this, we have to think bigger and better. He s on his way up." Jockey Joe Bravo added, "You ve got to love him. All he does is know how to win."

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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