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Luis Saez celebrates aboard Maximum Security after winning the Florida Derby
The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting for Triple Crown season is the $1 million Xpressbet Florida Derby (G1), celebrating its 68th renewal and a major prep for the Kentucky Derby worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. "It was a special day," said Gulfstream Park General Manager Bill Badgett. "The crowd was great, the performances by our human and equine athletes was incredible, and the energy throughout our facility was fantastic. While we close our Championship Meet Sunday, we're very much looking forward to our Spring and Summer Meet with some great racing and fantastic events."
Conditions were excellent at the Hallandale Beach oval, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the high 70's, with the main track fast and the turf going firm. A field of 11 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon, one complete lap of the main track, wih Fountain of Youth (G2) 4th place finisher Hidden Scroll sent off as the 9-5 favorite. In to challenge him included 3-1 second choice Bourbon War, 2nd in the Fountain of Youth, and 7-2 third choice Code of Honor, winner of the Fountain of Youth.
The horses break from the gate for the Florida Derby
Pgm Horse Jockey Win Place Show 7 Maximum Security Saez 11.60 7.40 5.40 8 Bodexpress Juarez 47.40 16.60 9 Code of Honor Velazquez 4.20 Winning Time: 1:48.86 $1 Exacta 7-8 257.10 $1 Trifecta 7-8-9 1,105.70 $1 Superfecta 7-8-9-4 3,493.80
Left: Maximum Security in the winners circle. Winning trainer Jason Servis said, "The plan was not to go to the lead. I talked to Luis about it. I didn't want to over-read the race. Luis agreed that there was going to be a couple speed horses that might not be as good as a Derby horse, so we were really thinking that we were going to be laying third. At the end of the day I told Luis, 'Look, he's yours. He breaks, and you ride him however you want.' I worked in the jock's room for 20 years, and if I heard anything I heard jockeys say, 'If this guy would have left me alone I could have won this race for him.' I just wanted to stay out of Luis' way. It was his decision 100 percent. They went slow early, and the rest is history."
Right: Maximum Security heads back to the barn.
Left: Maximum Security in the paddock before the race. Servis added, "(Owners Gary and Mary West) got some really good managers and we'll see what they think they want to do. They've got that horse Game Winner, so I don't know what we'll decide. I guess I have to cancel my fishing trip in May."
Right: Maximum Security shortly after the start. Winning jockey Luis Saez said, "It was beautiful. He broke so perfect and I just took it. He was traveling beautiful, and when he came to the half-mile pole and you feel the pressure I knew I had a lot of horse and in the stretch he just took off. My plan was if [Hidden Scroll] or somebody else took the lead I'm going to sit because I don't want to make the race for somebody else. He took it so easy, so I just went with it."
Left: Second place finisher Bodexpress in the paddock before the race. Jockey Nik Juarez said, "It was a huge effort in Bodexpress. I really liked him going into the race and he impressed me the way he ran last time. He's a young horse that can take dirt and when he finishes, he gives it all he has. Today he did the same exact thing, we just didn't have enough pace – it was just me and Luis,"
Right: Third place finisher Code of Honor in the post parade. Trainer Shug McGaughey said, "I thought we were done in the turn and he kind of kept going. I think he tried to get him going early because he could see what was going on. It just didn't work out. I'm not overly disappointed with the way he ran. We'll see how he comes out of it and go from there."
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 as part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series. Dunbar Road was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the field of 6 off an 8 3/4 length debut win at Gulfstream. In to challenger her included 9-5 second choice Point of Honor, winner of the Suncoast at Tampa Bay, and 3-1 third choice Cookie Dough, 2nd in the Davona Dale (G2).
Jockey Jeffrey Sanchez sent Cookie Dough to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.80, 47.58, and 1:11.77 while pressed by 15-2 Champagne Anyone and stalked by Dunbar Road. Turning for home, jockey Chris Landeros sent Champagne Anyone out wide to challenge, taking the front through 1 mile in 1:36.78. Dunbar Road closed late but Champagne Anyone held her off by 1/2 a length in 1:43.47. It was another 3/4 length back to Cookie Dough third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Left: Champagne Anyone in the winner's circle. Winning trainer Ian Wilkes said, "I think the blinkers made her more tractable in the race. She's a filly who doesn't like Chris to ask her to be in the race. I had to do something to where she took Chris into the race. I wasn't worried where she was today. It didn't mean that I need to be on the lead. It didn't mean I had to be second. I left it up to Chris to be where I wanted to be. That's the idea with the blinkers – to get her to travel more and not dislike what Chris was doing on her."
Right: Champagne Anyone heads back to the barns. Winning jockey Chris Landeros said, "They put blinkers on her and we anticipated being a little bit more aggressive with her instead of falling out. I got her into a gear early and she went along beautifully today. She's so naturally gifted. She still doesn't know when to completely lay it down. But, today's a big step forward and I think the best is yet to come for her."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Dunbar Road in the post parade. The Chad Brown trainee improved her record to 1 win and 1 second in 2 starts, earning $75,300 for owner Peter Brant.
Right: Third place finisher Cookie Dough in the post parade. The Stanley Gold trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 1 second, and 3 thirds in 7 starts, earning $436,450 for owner-breeder Arindel.
Jockey John Velazquez sent 13-2 Village King to the lead down the back and first time by through slow fractions of 24.93, 51.62, and 1:18.37 while pressed by 41-1 Salute the Colonel and stalked by 11-2 fourth choic Canessar. Turning for home, Canessar gained the lead through 10f in 2:07.49 before tiring. Focus Group, 5th early under Irad Ortiz Jr., saved ground the whole way, took over late and outfinished late-running 10-1 Melmich in a duel for the win by a nose in 2:30.03. It was a length back to Village King third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "I'm really proud of this horse. He got a great trip on the inside. He saved all the ground. I thought he was a couple works short. I was trying to get a race into the horse with the Man o'War in mind up in New York. It worked out. I thought he'd be a little short to win. But he got a great trip. The trip he got from Irad was the difference." Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. added, "I got a perfect trip, I saved all the ground I could. [Village King] got out a little bit, so I was a little lucky I got through there, which was probably the key for us. Javier had to check a little bit, because he had a horse there and that's why I won the race. We got lucky we got the win. He's a nice horse who always tries, from this race I think he'll improve."
Second place finisher Melmich returns after the race. The Kevin Attard trainee improved his record to 17 wins, 16 seconds, and 5 thirds in 45 starts, earning $1,117,511 for owners Stephen Chesney and Cory Hoffman.
A field of 9 older fillies and mares contested the $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes at 1 mile on turf. E.P. Taylor Stakes (G1) 5th place finisher Proctor's Ledge was sent off as the 11-10 favorite over 9-4 Valedictorian, 2nd in the Honey Fox (G3), and 6-1 Quebec, 5th in the Wishing Well at Santa Anita.
49-1 Vendita and Valedictorian dueled for the early lead through fractions of 24.26 and 48.91 while stalked by Proctor's Ledge and Quebec. On the far turn Vendita tired badly as Valedictorian and jockey Tyler Gaffalione continued to lead through 3/4 in 1:23.23. Proctor's Ledge closed late but Valedictorian held her off by a head in 1:34.92. It was another 1 3/4 length back to 10-1 Andina Del Sur third.
Results Chart from DRF.
Winning trainer Kelly Breen said, "I think she's deserved it and we'll have a party in Louisville. A great stretch duel. She's just a super filly. She's into her own right now." Jockey Tyler Gaffalione added, "She just kept fighting all the way to the wire and gave everything she had. Every time a horse got close, she gave me another surge."
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Proctor's Ledge returns after the race. The Brendan Walsh trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 4 seconds, and 1 third in 17 starts, earning $764,168 for owner-breeder Patricia Moseley.
Right: Third place finisher Andina Del Sur returns after the race. The Tom Albertrani trainee improved her record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 13 starts, earning $277,850 for owner-breeder Don Alberto Stable.
2018 Florida Derby won by Audible
2017 Florida Derby won by Always Dreaming
2016 Florida Derby won by Nyquist
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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