Gulfstream: News & Notes
Orb Has McGaughey Looking Forward to Florida and Kentucky Derbies
Shug McGaughey isn’t one to be afflicted with Derby Fever, but the Hall of Fame trainer admits that he’s excited about the prospect of running Fountain of Youth (G2) victor Orb in the Kentucky Derby (G1) on May 4.
“Like I said after the Fountain of Youth, I wake up every morning thinking of winning the Kentucky Derby. I wish I’d won it a long time ago so I wouldn’t have to worry about it anymore,” McGaughey said Thursday morning. “The reason I don’t get Derby Fever is that I want to take the right horse. Maybe I made a mistake or two not taking them, but I really can’t look back and say that I did. I’m looking forward to the experience. I’m looking forward to two Saturdays from now.”
Orb, who earned enough qualifying points (50) in the Fountain of Youth to make it into the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, is training for a start in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 30. The son of Malibu Moon, who breezed a half-mile on Monday at Payson Park in 48 2/5 seconds (second fastest of 16 recorded at the distance), will seek his fourth straight victory (third at Gulfstream) in the Florida Derby.
“Not that I didn’t think that he had a chance to be a decent horse, but it’s just how quick he’s become a decent horse,” McGaughey said. “After he broke his maiden, he just put it all together. Winning and growing up and getting his gate experience behind him, it just sort of mentally came together.”
After breaking his maiden at Aqueduct on Nov. 24 in his fourth start, Orb captured a 1 1/8-mile allowance, followed by his half-length upset over heavily favored Violence in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 23.
McGaughey had a similar experience of a 3-year-old suddenly coming into its own at Gulfstream Park in 1997.
“I had a filly one time who had finished second and third in stakes as a 2-year-old and when I put blinkers on her and brought her down here, she won everything she ran in,” McGaughey said.
Glitter Woman captured the Forward Gal (G3), Davona Dale (G3) and the Bonnie Miss (G2) at Gulfstream before capturing the Ashland (G1) at Keeneland.
McGaughey has saddled only six horses for starts in the Derby since 1984 and none since 2002, when Saarland finished 10th. Easy Goer finished second behind Sunday Silence in both the Derby and Preakness before winning the Belmont in 1989.
Mucho Mas Macho Gearing Up for Pan American
Trainer Henry Collazo is scheduled to ship Mucho Mas Macho from Calder to Gulfstream Park Sunday for a workout over the turf course in preparation for a start in the $150,000 Pan American (G2) on March 23.
Mucho Mas Macho hasn’t run since Jan. 12, when he closed from far off the pace at odds of $41.60-1 to win the $150,000 Fort Lauderdale (G2) by a neck at Gulfstream. Collazo opted to skip the Mac Diarmida (G2) in favor of waiting for the Pan American.
“I’d rather concentrate on spacing my races out, so I can get to the end-of-the-year goal,” said Collazo, superstitiously avoiding the words: Breeders’ Cup Turf (G1). “I just want to take everything one race at a time.”
Collazo shipped the 4-year-old gelding to Gulfstream on Feb. 17 for a five-furlong workout over the turf course.
“I like to work him on the grass because I think he gets more out of the works when I do work him on the grass. I can maintain him over the track at Calder,” he said.
Mucho Mas Macho has won four of nine starts on grass and finished a strong second in the 1 ½-mile McKnight (G2) at Calder on Nov. 24 before cutting back to 1 1/16 miles for the Fort Lauderdale, in which he closed from ninth in mid-stretch to capture his first graded stakes.
“He’s a push-button horse and the rapport (jockey) Juan Leyva has with him makes him a lot more versatile. He’s the kind of horse who could probably go two miles and then give you a quarter mile or go a mile and give you a quarter mile,” Collazo said. “He always has something in the tank when you ask him to give it to you.”
Collazo expects the 4-year-old son of Macho Uno to continue to improve.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time and I’ve been around a lot of nice horses, and he’s special,” Collazo said.