Florida Derby Champ Constitution Back to Work at Palm Meadows
Stablemates Intense Holiday, We Miss Artie Breeze in Company
Holy Bull Winner Cairo Prince Readies for Triple Crown
Gulfstream, Palm Meadows Produce 3 Grade I Winners Saturday
BOYNTON BEACH, FL – Constitution, who captured the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park on March 29, returned to the work tab at Palm Meadows Training Center Sunday Morning.
Undefeated in three career starts – all during Gulfstream’s Champions Meet – Constitution breezed a half-mile in 50.60 seconds at Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County to the expressed satisfaction of trainer Todd Pletcher.
“It was the exact same time he had in his first breeze after his allowance win, so we’re very pleased with that,” Pletcher said. “He went alone. He did it in relaxed fashion. The horse was moving super.”
The son of Tapit broke his maiden at first asking for WinStar Farm and Twin Oaks Racing at seven furlongs on Jan. 11 before coming right back to post a swift front-running triumph at 1 1/16 miles in an entry-level allowance on Feb. 22. Constitution dramatically made a successful jump to Grade 1 company, closing strongly along the rail to win a photo finish over Wildcat Red in the Florida Derby.
Pletcher also sent Intense Holiday and We Miss Artie to the track Sunday morning to tune up for the Triple Crown. They worked in company, breezing a half-mile in 48.90 seconds.
“I thought both horses worked well,” Pletcher said. “They galloped out strongly. They looked good.”
Intense Holiday finished third behind victorious Cairo Prince in the $400,000 Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream on Jan. 25 before shipping to Fair Grounds to win the Risen Star (G2) and finishing second in the Louisiana Derby (G2). We Miss Artie finished second in the Kitten’s Joy Stakes on turf at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 19 before finishing eighth on the main track in the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 22 and earning his ticket to Louisville with a victory on Polytrack in the Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway.
“All three of those horses, if the weather cooperates, will breeze back here next Sunday and go to Churchill on the 22nd and have their final breeze at Churchill,” the six-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer said.
On Saturday, Pletcher pulled off a stunner in the Arkansas Derby (G1) with Danza, who scored a decisive 4 ¾-length victory at 41-1 odds. The lightly raced son of Street Boss, who was ridden by Joe Bravo, previously made his 2014 debut after a six-month layoff at Gulfstream on March 1, finishing third behind highly regarded stablemate Anchor Down.
“We’re pretty excited. We were stepping out a bit. The horse always ran well and trained well. We felt we had one shot to put ourselves possibly in a position to get to Churchill. We were quietly expecting a good race, but, without a doubt, that exceeded everyone’s hopes and expectations,” said Pletcher, who couldn’t remember pulling off such a high-priced upset in a major stakes.
“I’m sure right after the race most people did what I would have done if I were on the outside looking in – grabbed the past performances and said, ‘Look at this horse!’” Pletcher added. “When you look at it now, you see a horse that won his maiden impressively first time out at Belmont, just missed in a flying finish in the Saratoga Special and ran a better-than-it-looked third in an allowance race at Gulfstream.”
Pletcher, whose Arkansas Derby winner was scheduled to ship from Oaklawn to Churchill Downs later in the day, reported that firm plans have yet to be made regarding riders on his four horses that qualified for the first leg of the Triple Crown.
“We have Javier on Constitution and we’re in the process of firming everything else up,” Pletcher said. “I’ll talk to Aaron Wellman from Eclipse, but I imagine they’ll ride Joe Bravo back.”
Pletcher recently captured his 11th straight training title at Gulfstream’s Champions Meet.
“We had an excellent winter. The Gulfstream meet was good to us and we were able to ship out to win the Risen Star, Spiral and Arkansas Derby. We had Palace Malice come back and run a big race. I’d say all in all, I’d have to say it was a successful winter,” he said. “Like always, there are a few you wished would have gone better. We had a few who are on holiday. Anchor Down comes to mind. He’s 2-for-2 and won the allowance race that Danza was in. But they’ll all be back this summer.”
McLaughlin Readies Cairo Prince for Triple Crown with Half-Mile Breeze
Kiaran McLaughlin was able to breath a sigh of relief Sunday when Cairo Prince ranked 20th on the qualifying list for the first leg of the Triple Crown after the final two major preps were run on Saturday.
“I feel great about it. They let 20 run, and it doesn’t matter if you’re first or 20th,” he said. “I feel really good right now that we’re 20th.”
Sunday morning at Palm Meadows, Cairo Prince breezed a half-mile in company with stablemate Summer Cove in 48.60 seconds and galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80. The breeze was the second fastest of 17 recorded at the half-mile distance.
“He worked great,” McLaughlin said. “We’ll do the same thing next Sunday, but we’ll go five (furlongs) and gallop out three quarters. He’ll ship out on the 22nd and have one work at Churchill.”
McLaughlin had some uneasy moments since Cairo Prince turned in a disappointing fourth-place finish at 6-5 in the Florida Derby, not knowing if the son of Pioneerof the Nile would have enough qualifying points to compete at Churchill on May 3.
Cairo Prince captured the Holy Bull by 5 ½ lengths, establishing himself as top-rated 3-year-old on the East Coast. After bypassing the Fountain of Youth, Cairo Prince’s status for the first Saturday in May suddenly was put in jeopardy by his dull showing in the Florida Derby.
“Maybe it was the layoff. I’ll take the responsibility that maybe he needed to run,” McLaughlin said. “He got caught wide. Wicked Strong went to New York after the same thing and won the Wood. But it doesn’t really matter now.”
Now able to concentrate on the Triple Crown, McLaughlin is happy with his original plan for Cairo Prince.
“Now we have a chance to win the Kentucky Derby, not just run in it,” McLaughlin said.
Gulfstream, Palm Meadows Produce 3 Grade I Winners Saturday
Arkansas Derby winner Danza, who wintered at Palm Meadows, was one of three horses who scored Grade I victories Saturday after spending the winter at Palm Meadows or Gulfstream Park.
Hard Not to Like, who wintered at Palm Meadows for trainer Michael Matz and won her 5-year-old debut at Gulfstream Feb. 28, won the Grade I Jenny Wiley at Keeneland while Judy the Beauty, who wintered at Gulfstream for trainer Wesley Ward, won the Grade I Madison at Keeneland. Meanwhile, Medal Count, who won an optional allowance optional claiming race Jan. 12 at Gulfstream before finishing fifth in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2), finished second in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass.
The Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth has proven to be a key prep race for the Triple Crown. Race winner Wildcat Red finished second in the Besilu Florida Derby (G1), second-place finisher General a Rod finished third in the Florida Derby, seventh-place finisher We Miss Artie won the Spiral Stakes (G3), sixth-place finisher Our Caravan won the Calder Derby, and Medal Count finished second in the Blue Grass.
GULFSTREAM PARK is a Stronach Group company, North America’s leading Thoroughbred racetrack owner/operator. The Stronach Group racetracks include Santa Anita Park, Gulfstream Park & Casino, Golden Gate Fields, Portland Meadows, Laurel Park and Pimlico Race Course, home of the world-famous Preakness. The company owns and operates the Palm Meadows Training Center in Florida, and is one of North America's top race horse breeders through its award-winning Adena Springs operation. The Stronach Group is one of the world's largest suppliers of pari-mutuel wagering systems, technologies and services. Its companies include AmTote, a global leader in wagering technology; XpressBet, an Internet and telephone account wagering service; and Monarch Content Management, which acts as a simulcast purchase and sales agent of horseracing content for numerous North American racetracks and wagering outlets.The Stronach Group is also a major producer of televised horseracing programming through its HRTV cable and satellite network and is North America's premier supplier of virtual online horseracing games, as well as a leading producer of social media content for the horseracing industry. For more information contact David Joseph at [email protected] or call 954.457.6451.