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2016 Florida Derby Day

horse racing
Dennis O'Neill leads Mario Gutierrez and Nyquist to the winner's circle after the Florida Derby
Date: 04/02/2016

The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting is the $1 million Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1), a major prep for the Kentucky Derby. A field of 9 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon with 100 "Kentucky Derby Championship Series" points to the winner, under cloudy skies (after earlier rains) and temperatures in the low 90's. As expected Mohaymen was sent off as the 4-5 favorite, undefeated in 5 starts including the Nashua (G2), Remsen (G2), Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). In to challenge him included Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) champion Nyquist as the 6-5 second choice, undefeated in 6 starts and coming off his win in the San Vicente (G2), and 15-1 third choice Takeittotheedge, a debut winner last out.
horse racing
Nyquist leads down the stretch

Jockey Mario Gutierrez sent Nyquist to the lead first time past the stands and he set fractions of 23.60, 47.09, and 1:11.39 while pressed by 125-1 Sawyers Mickey and stalked by 136-1 Chovanes, with Mohaymen settling in fourth but wide throughout. On the far turn Mohaymen moved up to challenge, and almost drawing even with Nyquist at the top of the lane. However, Mohaymen, tiring from the overland trip, faded in the stretch. Nyquist opened up by 2 1/2 lengths at the 1/8 pole getting 1 mile in 1:36.38, and drew off late to win by 3 1/4 lengths over late-running 21-1 Majesto in 1:49.11 over the good main track. It was a length back to deep closer 16-1 Fellowship third, and 4 more to favorite Mohaymen fourth.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place  Show
 4   Nyquist            Gutierrez     4.40    3.20  3.60
 3   Majesto            Castellano           11.00  6.20
 2   Fellowship         Lezcano                     5.40

Winning Time:  1:49.11

$2 Exacta 4-3                50.00
$1 Trifecta 4-3-2            77.30
$0.10 Superfecta 4-3-2-9     16.33 
Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Nyquist in the winners circle. Winning trainer Doug O'Neill said, "I had reservations a month or so ago—Mohaymen in his own backyard, do we really want to do something like that? But we all very quickly got on the same page and, you know, I think we just had a very lucky trip. Mario broke great and did a great job riding and everything just went right. This whole trip other than being delayed one day, everything else went right. So many things can go wrong in this business. I feel really good (about Kentucky). We drew up thinking two preps before the Derby would leave him with fresh legs. He's got a lot of miles underneath him in the morning and we have a fresh horse for the afternoon."

Right: Nyquist heads back to the barn after the race.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Nyquist in the paddock before the race.

Right: Nyquist in the post parade. Winning jockey Mario Gutierrez said, "It was always part of the plan (to go to front). It just depends on the break; how the other horses were going to be acting, so coming out of the gate, I broke so clean and so fast so I just had to take the lead. I saw (Mohaymen) coming to my side. I'm riding the race and I didn't want to be so confident, so if he was going to pass me, he was going to have to pass me running and wide."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Majesto in the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "He really gave a big effort. Not too many horses step up like that and gallop out like he did. It was amazing because he hooked up with the best horses in the country. The good thing about him is I was saving ground and when a hole opened, he went through and finished really well. I think he's going to be good going to the Derby."

Right: Third place finisher Fellowship in the post parade.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Fourth place finisher and beaten favorite Mohaymen. Jockey Junior Alvarado said, "He's a horse that all the time drags me and jumps in the bridle right away so when we turn to the backside he's pulling me. This time he wasn't pulling me. It got me a little worried. I tried to stay with im and give him a chance to get it all together. By the three-eighths pole I saw Nyquist getting along in front by himself and I had to move my horse. By that point he always drags me there and this time I'm the one asking him."

Right: The start of the Florida Derby.



horse racing The distaff counterpart to the Florida Derby is the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at 1 1/16 miles, worth 100 points to the winner in the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. Schuylerville (G3) and Margate Handicap winner Off the Tracks was the 4-5 favorite in the field of 7 over 7-2 second choice Gomo, winner of the Alcibiades (G1), and 4-1 third choice Go Maggie Go off her debut one on March 13.

9-2 fourth choice Paola Queen was quickest away through fractions of 23.09 and 46.70 while stalked by 50-1 Hold On Momma and Go Maggie Go. On the far turn Go Maggie Go moved up to take over the lead through 3/4 in 1:11.16. Kept to task by Luis Saez, Go Maggie Go drew off to win by 2 1/4 lengths aver Paola Queen in 1:43.74. It was another 1/2 length back to favorite Off the Tracks third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Go Maggie Go in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Dale Romans said, "She's just quality, and when they're doing as good as her and they're the quality she is, you can run in an a-other-than and win by 15 and say why didn't I run in a stake? There was only seven horses in here. If you run third you're worth a lot of money. If she can do that, she can win so why not be here? We can always back up for a $50,000 pot. She had one start, sprinting, so going two turns the first time you would expect to be close to the pace. Anytime you have speed on this racetrack speed is dangerous."

Right: Go Maggie Go returns after the race. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "I had a perfect trip. She broke good and was right there. When we came to the half-mile pole and I asked her, I had a lot of horse. In the stretch I thought somebody might come and get me, but when I hit her, she responded."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Paola Queen in the post parade. Jockey Javier Castellano said, "Good trip. I wanted to dictate the pace. The field was tough and we beat some nice horses today. A lot of credit to my horse. She ran huge."

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Off the Tracks in the post parade. Trainer Todd Pletcher said, "Johnny (Velazquez) thought she didn't really handle the muddy surface that well. She put in a pretty good move on the turn and then kinda flattened out a little bit. I thought that considering it was her first time in the slop and around two turns that it was credible, but Johnny felt that she really didn't like the wet surface."



horse racinghorse racing A field of 9 older fillies and mares went 1 3/8 miles on the turf in the $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3). 9-1 Quiet Kitten was quickest away through an opening quarter in 25.21 before even-money favorite Photo Call took over first time by, setting slow fractions of 49.89, 1:15.00, and 1:38.69. Entering the stretch Photo Call opened up a 2 1/2 length lead through 1 1/4 miles in 2:03.60. 9-1 Songoficeandfire, 8th early, put in a strong late rally but Photo Hall held her off by 3/4 length in 2:16.38 over the good going. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to 24-1 Achnaha third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We just didn't want to fight her. Last time we tried to cover her up—she got covered up, but never really relaxed. Plan A was that if someone wanted to go, we would tuck in, but if she wasn't turned off, to not fight her. Javier executed Plan B perfectly. I thought we were always in pretty good shape and hoped she'd just continue to find a little bit more." Jockey Javier Castellano added, "I wanted to rate, that was my goal, but unfortunately, she wouldn't rate. She's not that kind of horse. You need to let her run. If you rate her too much, she's not going to run. If you fight her too much, she's not going to finish."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Songoficeandfire in the post parade.

Right: Third place finisher Achnaha returns after the race.



horse racinghorse racing Kicking off the stakes action on Saturday afternoon, a field of 6 older horses went 1 1/8 miles in the $150,000 Skip Away Stakes (G3). 66-1 longest shot Enders Cat was quickest away through an opening quarter of 24.49 before 2-5 favorite Valid took over on the backstretch through fractions of 48.34, 1:12.44, and 1:36.19. Kept to task by jockey Nik Juarez, Valid cruised to a 1 3/4 length win over 4-1 second choice Team Colors in 1:48.42. It was another 1 1/2 lengths back to Enders Cat third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Marcus Vitali said, "He's a great horse, shows up every time. I loved when it was raining out today—boosted my confidence immensely. He loves the wet, a little cool breeze, and everything went his way today. No trouble and a fair fight, and we won the fight. I said to Nik be real close today, especially when it got wet. I told Nik to let the horse take him to where he wants to be." Jockey Nik Juarez added, "He does everything he can. For him to come back from that horrific thing that happened to him (stumbling and nearly falling in the Gulfstream Park Handicap), and come back as strong as ever, shows he's an iron horse."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Team Colors heads out to the track before the race.

Right: Third place finisher Enders Cat in the post parade.



horse racinghorse racing A field of 7 older fillies and mares contested the $300,000 Honey Fox Stakes (G2) at 1 mile on turf. Jockey Junior Alvarado sent 5-1 fourth choice Celestine to the lead immediately and she set fractions of 24.44, 48.42, and 1:12.83 while pressed by 12-1 Mississippi Delta and stalked by 7-1 Elusive Collection. In the stretch, Celestine drew off to win by 3 1/4 lengths over Mississippi Delta in 1:36.09. It was a neck back to 3-1 second choice Sandiva third, while 2-1 favorite Lady Lara was sixth.

Results Chart from DRF.

Winning trainer Bill Mott said, "You always worry about the course being a little slippery. I wasn't sure how that was going to work out but she seemed to handle it well. I thought she could very well be on the lead the way it looked on paper. I didn't think that was any surprise." Jockey Junior Alvarado added, "She was the speed of the race. Bill left it up to me, but I was pretty confident in her. I could take back if someone went. She was just cruising out there. I thought they would need six legs if they wanted to pass her in the stretch. I was just a passenger."
horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Mississippi Delta in the post parade.

Right: Third place finisher Sandiva returns after the race.



horse racinghorse racing Immediately before the Florida Derby, a field of 9 older horses went 1 1/2 miles on the turf in the $200,000 Pan American Stakes (G2). Jockey Luis Saez sent 7-1 Seeking Alpha to the front and he set fractions of 23.83, 48.79, 1:14.28, and 1:39.47 before tiring. At the top of the lane, 9-5 favorite Grand Tito, who stalked the pace in 3rd early, moved up to take the lead through 1 1/4 miles in 2:04.18. However, 3-1 third choice Kaigun, 7th early closed with a rush on the outside and outfinished 5-2 second choice Wake Forest to win by a head in 2:29.20. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Grand Tito third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Norm Casse, assistant to father and trainer Mark said, "I think today he really did dig in. He wanted it today. This is a horse that for whatever reason doesn't seem to get the job done but always runs well. Maybe Joe's figured him out a little bit. He had him right where he needed to be."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Wake Forest heads over to the paddock before the race. Jockey John Velazquez said, "Going a mile and a quarter you can ride him a little more aggressively. At a mile and a half be cautious; even though I got through at the quarter pole and I thought I was going to win it, the last 20 yards he was a little tired."

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Grand Tito returns after the race.



horse racinghorse racing A field of 8 older horses went 1 mile on the turf in the $200,000 Appleton Stakes (G3). 4-1 Long On Value set the early pace of 23.81 and 47.67 while stalked by 5-2 favorite Force the Pass. On the far turn Force the Pass moved up to take over the lead through 3/4 in 1:10.97. Force the Pass opened up a 1 length lead midstretch through 7/8 in 1:23.09, but 8-1 Reporting Star, 3rd early, closed three wide to get up by 1/2 a length over late-running 7-2 Divisidero in 1:35.52. It was a head back to Force the Pass third.

Results Chart from DRF.

Dorie Smith, assistant to winning trainer Brendan Walsh said, "We got him after his last race. He's a little feisty, but he's manageable and you just have to cater to his needs. He's really been improving with every work. When it started raining I thought it might suit us." Jockey Luis Saez added, "It was a big field and I wanted to get him in a good spot. After a half-mile, he was pulling, but I kept waiting a little bit. As soon as we got to the stretch, I let him go. In the stretch I thought (Force the Pass) would be a little closer to me, but he kept responding when we got to the wire."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Divisidero in the paddock before the race.

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Force the Pass returns after the race.



horse racinghorse racing The $100,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes featuring a field of 6 older horses sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. 6-5 favorite Defer Heaven dueled down the backstretch with 16-1 W V Jetsetter through fractions of 22.62 and 44.86. On the turn, the pacesetters tired as 7-2 third choice Grande Shores, third early, came through on the inside to win going away by 1 3/4 lengths over late-running 7-1 Squadron A in 1:22.96. It was a long 6 1/4 lengths back to 3-1 second choice Brothersofthetime third, while Defer Heaven checked in fifth.

Results Chart from DRF.

The Stanley Gold trainee improved his record to 15 wins, 17 seconds, and 7 thirds in 54 starts, earning $587,649 for owner-breeder Jacks or Better Farm.

2015 Florida Derby won by Materiality
2014 Florida Derby won by Constitution
2013 Florida Derby won by Orb
2012 Florida Derby won by Take Charge Indy
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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