Constitution To Make Stakes Debut In Florida Derby
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL - Lightly raced unbeaten colt Constitution will make his stakes debut in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 29 at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Todd Pletcher is pointing the 3-year-old son of Tapit to the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, Gulfstream’s signature race which carries a total of 170 qualifying points for the May 3 Kentucky Derby (G1), with 100 to the winner.
“He’s doing very well and we’re planning to run him in the Florida Derby,” Pletcher said. “It was really just a matter of picking out which race we were going to run in. I think he’s been very impressive in both of his starts, so it was just a matter of trying to pick the correct Derby prep for him. This time of year they’re all competitive.”
Owned by WinStar Farm and Twin Creeks Racing Stable, Constitution did not race as a 2-year-old. He made his debut in a seven-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream on Jan. 11, winning by a length in 1:23.36 after hesitating at the start.
Constitution returned with a front-running victory in a 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance on the undercard of the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) Feb. 22, hitting the wire in 1:42.19. Meet-leading jockey Javier Castellano was aboard for both races.
Based with Pletcher at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, Constitution had his first work since the most recent win on March 8, going four furlongs in 50.60 seconds.
Among the horses headed to the Florida Derby are Miller Lite Holy Bull (G2) and Nashua (G2) winner Cairo Prince, Hutcheson (G3) and Fountain of Youth winner Wildcat Red, and Gulfstream Park Derby winner General a Rod.
“We just felt like he’s home, he’s 2-for-2 over the track, and even though it looks to be a very tough race with Cairo Prince pointing for it, we felt like it was the right spot for him,” Pletcher said. “He’s passed every test so far, but this will certainly be the biggest test he’s had.”
Pletcher is also thinking Florida Derby with another Tapit colt, Alto Racing’s Anchor Down. Like Constitution he went unraced as a juvenile and has won each of his two starts at Gulfstream this winter, a six-furlong maiden event on the Holy Bull undercard Jan. 25 and a seven-furlong optional claiming allowance on March 1. “We’re in a similar position with Anchor Down,” Pletcher said. “He’s run twice, and he’s 2-for-2. We’re looking to stretch him out in a Derby prep. We haven’t decided which one it’s going to be, but the Florida Derby is under consideration for him, as well.”
Undefeated multiple graded stakes winner Onlyforyou is expected to come back in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies on March 29, Pletcher said. He is also considering Dame Dorothy, Get Lucky, In Tune, My Miss Sophia and Stopchargingmaria for the nine-furlong Oaks.
“There’s races in New Orleans that day and Aqueduct the following week, so we’ll see how everyone’s doing,” Pletcher said, “but Onlyforyou is definitely headed that way.”
Champagne (G1) winner Havana, program favorite for the $150,000 Swale (G2) at Gulfstream on March 1, is progressing well after being scratched the morning of the race with a quarter crack in his right front foot. “His foot looks good. We’ve got him back under tack, and we hope to maybe be back on the work tab next week,” Pletcher said. “It healed up well; we just didn’t want to rush things and make sure we get it right. As far as quarter cracks go, it was a pretty minor one.”
Havana will continue to train at Palm Meadows and could make his next start in the seven-furlong Bay Shore (G3) at Aqueduct on April 5, Pletcher said.