Gulfstream News & Notes
Florida Derby Starter Orb Could be a First for Janney
Stuart Janney III is in the enviable position among the owners of the 10 entrants in Saturday’s $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. Orb, whom he bred and owns in partnership with the Phipps Stable, is the only colt with his ticket to Churchill Downs already punched.
The 3-year-old son of Malibu Moon made his way into the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field with his upset victory over previously undefeated Violence in the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 23. The Shug McGaughey-trained colt earned a sufficient 50 points in Churchill Downs’ new Derby qualifying system for his third straight victory, removing himself for the late qualifying scramble in important final prep races like the Florida Derby. Orb will run only for the money and the glory Saturday, having already proven worthy of inclusion into the Derby field.
Ironically, Janney is likely the owner with the mildest case of Derby Fever of all the others with horses in the Florida Derby. He has also aligned himself with trainer Shug McGaughey, who, like every trainer, has dreamed of winning the Kentucky Derby one day but has never allowed that dream to change his conservative training style.
“We don’t gear anything around the Derby. The best way to describe it is that the horse carries you there. That may be what you want to do. I do have a fairly strong opinion that the worst thing you can do is to identify (the Derby) as your goal and basically kind of push the horse to conform with what your aspiration is,” Janney said. “ If you say that’s what your goal is, then you can’t miss a day, you can’t miss a work. There are no days off. You need to go in certain race. I think that’s a big reason why a lot of these horses don’t particularly perform well after the Derby.”
Janney has never been represented by a Kentucky Derby starter, but the Chairman of Bessemer Trust Co. seemed to have a golden opportunity in Coronado’s Quest in 1997. His homebred colt was a multiple graded-stakes winner at two and captured the Wood Memorial (G1) the next year, stamping himself as the likely favorite for the Kentucky Derby. Janney and McGaughey, though, opted to skip the Derby due to their colt’s erratic pre-race behavior that had compromised several of his starts.
“It was not at all tough to not go in the Kentucky Derby. I couldn’t be any more happy about the whole thing. Shug and I completely saw eye-to-eye on that. We weren’t going to go to the Derby regardless of how he did in the Wood. Obviously, he did everything right in the Wood. He just needed time,” Janney recalled. “We needed to be sure that on a big day he could handle it all. Neither one of us had any confidence based on the Wood in front of a relatively small crowd that the Derby would be a good thing for him.”
Coronado’s Quest was pointed toward the Preakness Stakes in Janney’s home state of Maryland, but a minor foot problem two days before the middle jewel of the Triple Crown knocked him out of action. He did go on to capture the Haskell (G1) and the Travers (G1) that year.
“We were more disappointed about missing the Preakness, but sometimes things work out for the best,” Janney said. “Winning the Haskell and the Travers is not bad.”
McGaughey has started only six horses for the Kentucky Derby during his Hall of Fame career and only one (Saarland, 10th in 2002) since saddling Easy Goer and Awe Inspiring for second- and third-place finishes behind Sunday Silence in 1989.
Although he has the points to make the Derby field, Orb still needs to convince his connections that he’s ready for the challenge by offering a strong effort in the Florida Derby. He has impressed them with his rapid development during the Gulfstream meeting, leading them to think he might be one who will carry them to Churchill Downs.
“He is calm and takes things as they come. I think his pedigree suggests that me might like that distance and his running style is probably pretty good for what goes on,” Janney said. “So those are the things that suggest that maybe he might want to do it. But we’re a long way from there.”
Frac Daddy Fast Friends with Gulfstream Paddock Judge
Florida Derby contender Frac Daddy has become a familiar face to Gulfstream Park Paddock Judge George Berry during the past couple weeks, schooling almost daily in the paddock and walking ring in preparation for a start in Saturday’s $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1).
The son of 2007 Florida Derby winner Scat Daddy finished a disappointing sixth in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream on Jan. 26 in his most recent race. Although a nasty gash in his foot suffered when he grabbed a quarter during the race surely impacted his performance, the gray colt didn’t help his cause by acting up badly in the post parade and loading into the gate.
“He did not act well at all in the post parade. He was fine in the paddock, but when he got on the racetrack, he did not handle it at all,” trainer Ken McPeek said. “He was looking at the crowd and he seemed distracted. I never had that at all before.”
Frac Daddy has been schooling in the paddock and gate, acting cool, calm and collected, and has been training impressively for the Florida Derby.
“He’s doing great right now. I couldn’t get him better,” McPeek said. “If he’s good enough, great. If he’s not, it won’t be our fault because we’ve hit all the details.
Prior to the Holy Bull, Frac Daddy showed immense talent, finishing second behind Florida Derby entrant Indy’s Illusion in his debut in mud at Belmont and breaking his maiden by nearly 10 lengths at Churchill Downs. He finished a close-up second behind multiple graded-stakes winner Uncaptured in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill in his juvenile finale.
“If I was down on this colt, I’d be running him in an allowance race,” McPeek said. “He’s a nice horse and I think he deserves a shot. His race in the Kentucky Jockey Club showed that he has graded-stakes talent. He showed his immaturity in his first race of the year. Let’s hope he’s matured at this stage. I think he’ll be fine.”
McPeek will saddle two other horses for stakes on the Florida Derby undercard: Travers winner Golden Ticket in the $100,000 Skip Away (G3) and Kimberley Jean in the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2).
Capt. Candyman Can Returns in Sir Shackleton
David and Stephen Zell’s 7-year-old gelding Capt. Candyman Can won the Hutcheson Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park as a 3-year-old in 2009 for trainer Ian Wilkes and the $75,000 Sir Shackleton Stakes over the track as a 5-year-old in 2011.
A Kentucky homebred by Candy Ride, Capt. Candyman Can will be back in action on Florida Derby Day Saturday in a bid for a second victory in the Sir Shackleton at 6 ½ furlongs in a field of eight going as the second race with jockey Alan Garcia named to ride.
Capt. Candyman Can finished a dull ninth last out in the Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 23 in his first start since a close-up fifth behind Successful Dan in a tough allowance race at Keeneland on Apr. 6. The Keeneland race was his third last year, preceded by an even third behind Force Freeze in the Gulfstream Sprint Championship (G2) and fourth in the Tom Fool Handicap (G3) at Belmont Park in early March.
“He simply needed a race,” said Wilkes of the veteran sprinter’s performance in the Super. “He may need a couple of races to get going again at his age, but I think he can come back to perform at a high level. I know this is going to be a tough spot, but we know he likes the Gulfstream track.” Wilkes said that Capt. Candyman Can had minor surgery after the Keeneland race to remove a cyst in a foot.
Capt. Candyman Can goes into the Sir Shackleton with a 21-8-2-3 record and earnings of $792,097. He scored one of his biggest victories in the 2009 Kings Bishop Stakes (G1) in 2009 when he finished second by a head behind Vineyard Haven, the latter disqualified. In another good try here at Gulfstream he ran out of ground rallying for fourth in the Mr. Prospector Stakes (G3) in December of 2011, beaten 1 ¾ lengths by Apriority.
Capt. Candyman Can’s rivals include another past winner of the Sir Shackleton as E. Paul Robsham Stable’s 5-year-old Travelin Man goes to the post as one of three contenders trained by Todd Pletcher.
A Kentucky homebred by Trippi, Travelin Man also has shown a fondness for the Gulfstream surface with four wins and a second in six starts, although he missed the board last out finishing sixth in this year’s Gulfstream Sprint Championship in his first start since late July at Monmouth Park when he lost a nose decision to be second in the Teddy Drone Stakes.
Travelin Man finished second in the Hutcheson and won the Swale Stakes (G2) early in 2011 as a 3-year-old and won a hard-fought half-length victory over Jersey Town in the Sir Shackleton on Florida Derby Day last year. Jockey Rosie Napravnik, in town to ride Shanghai Bobby in the Florida Derby (G1) for Pletcher, picks up the mount on Travelin Man.
Completing the field are E. Paul Robsham Stable’s Soaring Stocks, Rajiv Maragh; Robert Greczak’s Action Andy, Angel Serpa; Midwest Thoroughbreds’ Guam Typhoon, Daniel Centeno; Joseph Balsamo’s Bellefire, Manoel Cruz; Stonestreet Stables and George Bolton’s Spring Hill Farm, John Velazquez; and Luch Racing Stable’s Whiskey Rebellion, Paco Lopez.
Pletcher also trained Soaring Stocks and Spring Hill Farm.
Three Jockeys & Two Trainers Can Score a Florida Derby Repeat
Jockeys John Velazquez, Jose Lezcano and Kent Desormeaux have each won Gulfstream Park’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) once before and can make it two on Saturday while Todd Pletcher and Ken McPeek also have previously won the track’s historic Kentucky Derby (G1) and Triple Crown preview once each.
Velazquez was aboard Quality Road for his 2009 score for trainer Jimmy Jerkens and has the mount on Orb for trainer Shug McGaughey Saturday, Lezcano rallied Ice Box to victory in 2010 for Nick Zito and Desormeaux was aboard for Big Brown’s sensational score in 2008 for trainer Rick Dutrow and rides Merit Man Saturday for Bob Hess, Jr.
Ken McPeek won the 2002 edition of the race with Harlan’s Holiday and sends out Frac Daddy Saturday. Pletcher got his Florida Derby tally with Scat Daddy in 2007 and sends out Shanghai Bobby for the 62nd edition of the 1 1/8 miles test.
Jockey Edgar Prado, who has had a very good winter at Gulfstream, won the Florida Derby three times with Harlan’s Holiday, Barbaro and Scat Daddy, but will be at Fair Grounds on Saturday to ride Palace Malice in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and leading Gulfstream jockey Javier Castellano also makes the trip for the mount on favorite Revolutionary in that race, both trained by Pletcher.
Rosario Winds Down Successful Meeting at Gulfstream
Joel Rosario, who has traveled to Dubai to ride 2011 Kentucky Derby champion Animal Kingdom in Saturday’s $10 million Dubai World Cup, rode two winners on Friday’s card to push his win total to 87, five fewer the defending champion Javier Castellano.
The 24-year-old Dominican Republic native enjoyed great success in Southern California, where he won three straight titles at Hollywood Park, back-to-back titles at Del Mar and the spring meeting at Santa Anita before heading east. Rosario began riding in New York in June and ventured to South Florida in December to ride fulltime at Gulfstream for the first time.
“It’s been a very nice experience. I couldn’t expect to do better than I’ve been doing. I’ve been winning races here. Coming from California to here, that’s not easy to do,” said Rosario, whose book is handled by Ron Anderson. “I just appreciate all the trainers that I ride for and all the owners who give me horses to ride. It’s been a great opportunity. “It’s great to ride here with all the nice horses, the best in the country.”
Rosario, who’ll ride at Keeneland before returning to New York, plans to remain on the East Coast and return to Gulfstream next season.
“I love California, but riding here, there is more opportunity. You can go to all the different tracks to ride. In California, the other tracks are far away,” Rosario said. “There’s more action staying here. We plan to stay here.”
Coffee Clique Bids for Secret Grace, Cleary Now to Bay Shore
Amerman Racing Stables LLC’s 3-year-old Kentucky homebred filly Coffee Clique shipped into Palm Meadows in mid-December after winning her career debut on Polytrack at Woodbine on Dec. 2 for trainer Brian Lynch, and looks to head north a stakes winner after running in Sunday’s $70,000 Secret Grace Stakes going one mile on turf at Gulfstream Park.
Jockey Joe Rocco, Jr. will be back aboard Coffee Clique after they finished a solid fourth last out in the $100,000 Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3) on Mar. 2 following an allowance victory over the course on Feb. 2. The daughter of Medaglia d’Oro finished fifth in her first start at Gulfstream on New Year’s Day going seven furlongs on the main track, a race won by Live Lively by 11 ¼ lengths.
“I should have had her taken back in the Herecomesthebride,” said Lynch of the good try in the race when beaten only 3 ¼ lengths for it all by Kitten’s Point. “The pace scenario for this race looks good for her where she can sit and draft in behind before making her run. I’m very pleased with the way she’s come along and look forward to the season ahead.”
Coffee Clique faces seven rival 3-year-old fillies with Darley Stable’s Kentucky homebred With Sugar On Top also likely to get wide support with jockey John Velazquez in the saddle for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. The daughter of Unbridled’s Song finished sixth in her career debut at Monmouth Park sprinting on dirt in mid-June and broke her maiden on turf there on Aug. 12.
In her only start since then With Sugar On Top won a hard-fought neck decision in an ‘a other than’ allowance over the Gulfstream course on Jan. 20.
Lynch is also looking forward to a good season with Up Hill Stable’s 3-year-old colt Clearly Now, impressive 1 ¾ lengths winner of the $150,000 Swale Stakes (G3) going seven furlongs here on Mar. 2. The son of Horse Greeley had finished a well-beaten third behind Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby in the $400,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3) going a distance in his previous start on Jan. 26.
Lynch did not rule out a possible start in Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1) immediately after the Swale, but “We decided that for now he did so well at seven-eighths that the best opportunity for him would be the Bay Shore. I’m looking forward to the season with him as well.”
The $250,000 Bay Shore Stakes (G3) at seven furlongs will be run at Aqueduct will be run on Sat., Apr. 6, Wood Memorial Day.