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horse racing
John Velazquez aboard Fierceness after winning the Florida Derby

2024 Florida Derby Day

Date: 03/30/2024

The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting for Triple Crown season is the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill 'N' Dale Farms at Xalapa, a major prep for the Kentucky Derby worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series.

Conditions were excellent at the Hallandale Beach oval, with cloudy skies and temperatures in the low 80's, with the main track fast and the turf going firm. After 2 scratches, a field of 9 three-year-olds contested this 1 1/8 mile trip on Saturday afternoon, one complete lap of the main track. Fierceness was sent off as the 11-10 favorite off his third place finish in the Holy Bull (G3) after winning the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1). In to challenge him included 5-2 second choice Conquest Warrior off two allowance wins, and 3-1 third choice Hades, undefeated in 3 starts including the Holy Bull last out.
horse racing
The horses break from the gate in the Florida Derby

Jockey John Velazquez sent Fierceness to the lead first time through fractions of 24.06, 47.50, and 1:11.31 while pressed by 29-1 Catalytic and stalked by 34-1 Le Dom Bro and 21-1 Grand Mo the First. Turning for home Fierceness left the field behind through 1 mile in 1:35.63. Kept to task by Velazquez, Fierceness continued to draw off, finishing 13 1/2 lengths in front of Catalytic in 1:48.22. It was another 2 1/2 lengths back to Grand Mo the First third.

horse racing
Pgm  Horse              Jockey         Win   Place   Show
 10  Fierceness         Velazquez     4.20    3.20   2.80
  7  Catalytic          Leparoux             12.20   8.00
  4  Grand Mo the First Jaramillo                    6.40

Winning Time:  1:48.22

$1 Exacta 10-7                52.60
$1 Trifecta 10-7-4           408.50
$1 Superfecta 10-7-4-9     1,693.60 
Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Fierceness in the winners circle. Winning owner Mike Repole said, "It's surreal. I don't know what to tell you. It's not normal to do it once, [but] twice in back-to-back years to win this race and go in with the Kentucky Derby favorite? As you guys know from the past, a lot can happen from now to post time, but we saw something pretty special today."

Right: Fierceness gets hosed off after the race. Winning trainer Todd Pletcher said, "We weren't committed to being on the lead. We were committed to being forward and getting a good position on the first turn. We talked about we might be on the lead, we might be lying second, we might be lying third. But we just wanted to get away from the gate and get in a good position. It turns out he made the lead and got into a good rhythm, and just kept going."

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

Right: Fierceness in the post parade. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "This is what I expected last time out of him. He had been working lights out. He broke well today and I just let him have it. I let them come and get him, and he dominated the whole race. When he got to the backstretch and switched to the turn, he picked it up and so I let him do it. He was comfortable. Then at the quarter pole, I gave him a little smooch and he picked it up right away. It was pretty easy. This is why we're here. This is what we work for, for opportunities like this. It's exciting."

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Owner Mike Repole and his family post with Fierceness after winning the Florida Derby.

Right: Fierceness heads back to the barn. Trainer Todd Pletcher added, "Like everyone else in the Derby, you've got to hope you draw a good post, you get a good trip, and you like Churchill Downs all those things. As a horse trainer, you're never confident until they cross the wire. But it looked like he turned for home with a lot of energy, and it was just enjoying watching him go down the lane, and thinking, 'Johnny, save me a little something for five weeks.'"

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Second place finisher Catalytic warms up before the race. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said, "He's a good horse. It wasn't the ideal circumstance but he was brave today. I had a lot of respect for some of the horses in the race and he ran a really good second. Nothing was going to beat the winner. We should improve a lot from this. Hopefully he comes out well, and we've got five weeks to keep dreaming."

Right: Third place finisher Grand Mo the First walks over before the race. Trainer Victor Barboza Jr. said, "I'm very happy with the race. Today he earned 25 points. He has 40 points. He has a good chance to make the Kentucky Derby."



horse racing The distaff counterpart to the Florida Derby is the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) presented by FanDuel TV at 1 1/16 miles, worth 100 points to the winner as part of the Kentucky Oaks Championship Series for 3-year-old fillies. Spinaway Stakes (G1) winner Ways and Means was sent off as the 1-2 favorite in the field of 9 over 11-2 second choice Gun Song off an allowance win, and 8-1 third choice Into Champagne, second in the Davona Dale (G2).

Jockey Julien Leparoux sent Into Champagne to the lead first time by and she set fractions of 24.18, 47.86, and 1:11.66 while pressed by Gun Song and stalked by Ways and Means. Into the stretch Ways and Means gained the front through 1 mile in 1:37.55 but 11-1 Power Squeeze, 5th early under Daniel Centeno, came out 6 wide and rallied to win by a length in 1:44.19. It was a long 5 3/4 lengths back to pacesetter Into Champagne third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Power Squeeze heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Jorge Delgado said, "We always thought very highly of her. We never felt like she was [11-1]. We felt like she was 1-1. We felt like we had a really good chance. We believed in the filly, and she responded for us. This is a tricky track when it comes to two turns. You have the first wire and there's not a long stretch. She did everything good. She showed the determination to get it."

Right: Power Squeeze with her flowers. Winning jockey Daniel Centeno said, "It looked like there was plenty of speed in the race so that would help us. We had to make sure we broke sharp so we could get position into the first turn. I had to use her a little bit today because I came out real quick and I didn't want to get in trouble, so I had to get in there and get my position. But she showed heart and never let go of me."

horse racinghorse racing
Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Ways and Means in the post parade. Trainer Chad Brown said, "Irad Ortiz Jr.] said the first turn cost him. It got tight in there, he was bounced around a bit, and he got wide. And then when she saw daylight, she kind of pulled herself up to the front, a little premature move. He said he didn't really want to do that."

Right: Third place finisher Into Champagne in the post parade. Jockey Julien Leparoux said, "She ran her race. She broke sharp. I thought the first quarter was reasonable. She was relaxed and she made her run. She just got beat today."



horse racing Immediately before the Florida Derby, a field of 10 older horses contested the $150,000 Appleton Stakes at 1 mile on the turf. Jockey Joel Rosario sent 9-2 third choice Big Everest to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.76, 47.24, and 1:10.39 while pressed by 4-1 second choice Never Surprised and stalked by 5-2 favorite Ice Chocolat. In the stretch the pacesetters tired as 5-1 fourth choice Smokin' T, fifth early under John Velazquez, rallied 7 wide to win by a head over 17-1 Saratoga Flash in 1:33.33. It was a neck back to 60-1 longest shot Tidal Forces third, while favorite Ice Chocolat checked in 7th beaten just 1 3/4 length.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Smokin' T heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Shug McGaughey said, "The other day he was kind of keen. Today he shipped down here, he settled in the barn, he went to post settled, he settled in the way I wanted him to in behind the speed, and it gave him some finish."

Right: Smokin' T returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "There was a little room there, I poked his had through there and I got after him and he responded. Sometimes you have the horse to do it, when you don't you can't do it, but he responded and got the spot. Once I got the spot I was okay."



horse racing The $150,000 Orchid Stakes (G3) featured a field of 6 older fillies and mares going 1 1/2 miles on the turf. Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G1) last place finisher McKulick was sent off as the 6-5 favorite over 8-5 second choice Surprisingly, 2nd in the Pegasus World Cup Filly and Mare Turf (G2), and 3-1 third choice La Mehana,3rd in the Prix de Royallieu (G1). Jockey Paco Lopez sent 28-1 longest shot Viva La Red to the front first time by through fractions of 23.32, 47.16, 1:12.30, and 1:37.91 while pressed by 8-1 Anatolian and stalked by Surprisingly. Into the stretch, Viva La Red tired as McKulick, 4th early under Irad Ortiz Jr., swept to the lead 3 wide through 10f in 2:01.77. McKulick held off Surprisingly late to win by 1/2 a length in 2:25.20. It was another 1 1/2 length back to La Mahana third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: McKulick in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. said, "She waited for me, I let her do her thing, and by the half mile she was pretty good and kept going to the wire."

Right: McKulick in the post parade. Winning trainer Chad Brown said, "I never expected her to sit in the rear of the field like that in the Breeders' Cup. As it turned out it was a really solid race. It's not like I look back and expected her to win the race, but I wouldn't have brought her if I thought she wouldn't at least pass a few horses down the lane. Maybe she had a long year and needed a break. She's had a nice little winter off. And she's such a consistent filly, a horse who handles soft ground or really firm ground like today."

horse racinghorse racing Left: Second place finisher Surprisingly in the post parade. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 4 wins, 5 seconds, and 2 thirds in 14 starts, earning $463,650 for owner Repole Stable.

Right: Third place finisher La Mehana returns after the race. The Christophe Clement trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 1 second, and 2 thirds in 13 starts, earning $184,922 for owner LSU Stables.



horse racing A field of 8 older horses contested the $150,000 Ghostzapper Stakes (G3) at 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Gulfstream Park Mile (G2) runner-up Tumbarumba was sent off as the 2-1 favorite over 5-2 second choice Donegal Forever, undefeated in 2 starts, and 3-1 third choice Steal Sunshine, winner of the Gulfstream Park Mile. 40-1 X Y Point and favorite Tumbarumba dueled for the lead through fractions of 24.78 and 49.20 while stalked by 4-1 fourth choice Il Miracolo. On the far turn X Y Point tired allowing Il Miracolo to lead through 3/4 in 1:12.41 and 1 mile in 1:37.27. Il Miracolo confidently ridden by John Velazquez closed the gap in the final 1/16 to win by a neck in 1:43.79. It was another 3/4 length back to late-running Steal Sunshine third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Il Miracolo returns after the race. Winning jockey John Velazquez said, "We had a good trip. We wanted to be close. They slowed it down pretty good, so I tried to make a move on the backstretch. I kind of got head-and-head with the two horses in front, but Jose's horse kind of put his head in front and it took a little bit to get my horse going again. He had a nice fight down the lane, so I was proud he came back again."

Right: Il Miracolo in the post parade. Winning trainer Antonio Sano said, "I tried the horse one mile last time, and he ran good. When he came back, we prepared him to run a long distance, and I was confident in my horse. Both horses are good horses. It was an excellent race. We'll keep him around two turns now."

horse racinghorse racing Left: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Tumbarumba returns after the race. The Brian Lynch trainee improved his record to 5 wins, 4 seconds, and 2 thirds in 14 starts, earning $485,390 for owner Amerman Racing.

Right: Third place finisher Steal Sunshine in the post parade. The Bobby Dibona trainee improved his record to 6 wins, 2 seconds, and 6 thirds in 21 starts, earning $504,895 for owners Carrie Brogden and Michael and Julia Iavarone.



horse racing A field of 9 older fillies and mares contested the $100,000 Sand Springs Stakes over 1 1/16 miles on turf. 26-1 Angel Nadeshiko set the pace of 24.18, 47.84, and 1:10.66 while pressed by 13-1 Fast as Flight and stalked by 7-1 fourth choice Infinite Diamond. Angel Nadeshiko continued to lead to midstretch through 1 mile in 1:33.62 before tiringh. 4-1 second choice Cairo Consort, 6th early under Irad Ortiz Jr., came out 4 wide for room and rallied to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Fast as Flight in 1:39.52. I was a nose back to 21-1 Fuente Ovejuna third, while 4-5 favorite Marketsegmentation was 4th early and failed to rally finishing 5th beaten 2 3/4 lengths.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Cairo Consort returns after the race. The Todd Pletcher trainee improved her record to 5 wins, 2 seconds, and 4 thirds in 15 starts, earning $644,792 for owners Repole Stable and Town and Country Racing.

Right: Cairo Consort in the post parade.



horse racing A field of 7 older horses went 1 1/2 miles on the turf in the $200,000 Pan American Stakes (G2) presented by Rood & Riddle. Mac Diarmida (G2) runner-up Tawny Port was sent off as the 7-10 favorite over 2-1 second choice Kertez off an allowance win at Saint Cloud in France, and 11-1 third choice Street Ready, 10th in the Dilberto Memorial at Fair Grounds.

Jockey Jorge Ruiz sent 12-1 fourth choice Candidate to the lead first time by through fractions of 23.74, 48.36, 1:13.23, and 1:38.17 while pressed by 25-1 longest shot Public Sector and stalked by Tawny Port. Turning for home Candidate tired allowing Public Sector to take over through 10f in 2:01.80. In the stretch Kertez, 6th early under Joel Rosario, came out 4 wide and rallied to win by a nose over 15-1 Harry Hood in 2:24.93. It was a neck back to favorite Tawny Port third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racingLeft: Kertez in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Joel Rosario said, "Going to the first turn I found myself with four horses in front of me [and] for him it seemed like the pace was a little slow. He was nice in the bridle, he was handling everything well. After what happened he was able to continue with that grinder of speed that he has and he got the job done."

Right: Kertez in the post parade. Winning trainer Christophe Clement said, "He had a remarkable campaign with Andre Fabre, I always followed him because I liked him. He's a touch tricky, but he's got a lot of ability. I'm delighted. I bought him as a 5-year-old gelding, everybody thought I was nuts at the time, but you know what? He just won the Pan Am so it's okay. I knew he had a very good turn of foot in the morning, I thought he looked great on the turn. He's a lovely horse, I loved the way he trained, it's nice when things work out."

horse racinghorse racing
Left: Second place finisher Harry Hood in the post parade. The Mark Hennig trainee improved his record to 2 wins, 2 seconds, and 3 thirds in 11 starts, earning $192,556 for owner Mashnee Stable.

Right: Third place finisher and beaten favorite Tawny Port in the post parade. Trainer Christophe Clement said, "Irad just came back and said 'I'm sorry, you got into trouble, you should have won.' I don't know about that."



horse racing The $125,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes featured a field of 9 older horses sprinting 7 furlongs on the main track. 16-1 Legacy Isle led through fractions of 22.37 and 44.85 while pressed by 10-1 Vivir Con Alegria and stalked by 11-4 favorite Oscar Eclipse. Turning fro home Legacy Isle continued to lead through 3/4 in 1:10.00 before tiring. Oscar Eclipse cam out 5 wide for room and held off late-running 8-1 Dreaming of Kona to win by a neck in 1:23.23. It was another 3/4 length back to 3-1 second choice Implementation third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Oscar Eclipse heads to the winner's circle. Winning trainer Brian Lynch said, "It's nice to see the horse run the way he did. I think he has a lot of potential ahead of him. I like to see him run like that off the layoff. He's such a big horse, you always worry if you have them fit enough."

Right: Oscar Eclipse gets a drink after the race.



horse racing Kicking off the Saturday stakes action was the $100,000 Cutler Bay Stakes featuring 7 three-year-olds going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. Jockey Jose Ortiz sent 13-1 King Julien to the lead first time by through fractions of 24.14 and 47.83 while pressed by 3-5 favorite Set and stalked by 9-2 second choice Tok Tok. On the far turn King Julien tired allowing Set to inherit the lead through 3/4 in 1:10.80. Kept to task by Emisael Jaramillo, Set drew off to win by 1 1/4 lengths over late-running 11-2 third choice Double Your Money in 1:28.10. It was a neck back to 13-2 Salvattore Prince third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Set returns after the race. Winning trainer Mark Casse said, "That was nice to see him settle a bit. There's always going to be somebody faster than you; I thought it was a good learning experience."

Right: Set in the post parade. Winning jockey Emisael Jaramillo said, "I knew [King Julien] was coming out of a five-furlong race, so I allowed him [to go to the front]. I put my horse in position and then when I asked him he responded very well. He is an extremely fast horse, but he was still running at the end."



horse racing The $100,000 Sanibel Island Stakes featured a field of 10 three-year-old fillies going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf. 10-1 Destiny Star set the pace of 24.33, 47.86, and 1:11.38 while pressed by 9-1 Golden Ghost and stalked by 78-1 longest shot Managing Mischief. Into the stretch Destiny Star continued to lead through 7f in 1:22.83 but 17-1 Vive Veuve, 8th early under Javier Castellano, came through betwen horses late to outfinish 4-5 favorite Ozara by 3/4 length in 1:28.44. It was a nose back to Destiny Star third.

Results Chart from DRF.

horse racinghorse racing Left: Vive Veuve in the winner's circle. Winning jockey Javier Castellano said, "I was able to save all the ground in the first turn and all the way on the backside, and I think that made all the difference. I liked how he split horses turning for home and the top of the stretch. I just closed my eyes and went through. At the top of the stretch. It was really tight, no place to go. I had to take a shot. I had to be aggressive and try to time it right."

Right: Second place finisher and beaten favorite Ozara heads out for the post parade. The Christophe Clement trainee improved her record to 3 wins, 2 seconds, and 1 third in 7 starts, earning $278,907 for owner Cheyenne Stable.

Photos courtesy of Amber Chalfin of Downthestretchphotos.com.

2023 Florida Derby won by Forte
2022 Florida Derby won by White Abarrio
2019 Florida Derby won by Maximum Security
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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