Alto Racing’s Materiality headlines the group of strong Gulfstream representatives in what is being billed as one of the most competitive Kentucky Derby (G1) fields in recent memory. The son of Afleet Alex is undefeated in three career starts for trainer Todd Pletcher, highlighted by a 1 ½-length victory in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 28, the premier event of Gulfstream’s Championship Meet.
Materiality made all three of his starts at Gulfstream, including his career debut, when he won a 6-furlong maiden special weight by 4 ¼ lengths on Jan. 11 over a sloppy racetrack. He then sparkled when stretching out to 1 1/8 mile in his second start, rolling home unchallenged to a 5 ¾ length victory in the Islamorada Handicap on March 6 prior to his Florida Derby triumph.
Gulfstream’s leading rider the past four years, Javier Castellano, will be aboard Materiality for the first time in the Kentucky Derby. The bay colt has been installed as the race’s co-fourth choice at 12-1 on the morning line.
Ralph Evans and WinStar Farm’s Upstart, a son of Flatter, contested all three of Gulfstream’s Triple Crown prep races, including the Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) and Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) in addition to the Florida Derby. Upstart, the third-place finisher in last November’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), ran off with the Holy Bull in his sophomore debut, scoring a 5 ½-length victory.
The Rick Violette, Jr. trainee would then cross the wire 2 ¾ lengths in front in the Fountain of Youth before being disqualified and placed second behind fellow Kentucky Derby entrant Itsaknockout for drifting out in the stretch. He capped a strong winter season with a second-place finish in the Florida Derby before training up to the Kentucky Derby at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach.
Upstart will break from post 19 in the Kentucky Derby and will be ridden by Jose Ortiz, who has been aboard for all seven of the ridgling’s starts. His morning line odds are 15-1.
Itsaknockout is the other Todd Pletcher trainee that will run in the Kentucky Derby after racing at Gulfstream. In addition to being awarded the victory in the Fountain of Youth, Itsaknockout broke his maiden by a hard-fought nose in his career debut in Hallandale on Dec. 7 before handily capturing an allowance at Gulfstream on Jan. 4. The son of Lemon Drop Kid also finished fourth in the Florida Derby behind Materiality and Upstart.
Todd Pletcher will look for his second Kentucky Derby victory; he has won an unprecedented 12 consecutive training titles at Gulfstream’s winter meet.
Godolphin Racing’s Frosted, runner-up in the Holy Bull, trained up to his win in the Wood Memorial (G1) at Palm Meadows. After the colt captured his first Grade 1 victory in New York, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin chose to return the gray to South Florida so that he could continue to train at the 286-acre Palm Meadows facility. Keen Ice, the third-place finisher in the Risen Star (G2) in Louisiana, wintered in South Florida as well and trained at Gulfstream under the tutelage of Dale Romans.
Five of the last nine Kentucky Derby winners have wintered and trained at Palm Meadows, including Animal Kingdom (2011), Super Saver (2010), Big Brown (2008), Street Sense (2007), and Barbaro (2006). Sackatoga Stables’ Funny Cide, who captured the Run for the Roses in 2003, was the first Kentucky Derby Champion to reside at Palm Meadows after it opened in 2002.
The Florida Derby has also produced numerous Kentucky Derby winners. In the first 63 runnings of the race, 42 starters have gone on to win 57 Triple Crown events, including 22 Kentucky Derby winners. Of the 42 starters, 14 won two-thirds of the Triple Crown.
Materiality, Upstart, and Itsaknockout will look to continue the trend of Florida Derby success in 2015. The three have formed great foundations in Hallandale that they will surely build upon as they continue their sophomore journeys in the prestigious Triple Crown