Cairo Prince tops 97 nominees for Florida Derby March 29Mar 19th, 2014 | By TrackSide View | Category: Iron Maidens
Gulfstream Park report
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – Cairo Prince, a convincing 5¾ -length winner of the $400,000 Miller Lite Holy Bull Stakes (G2) in his most recent start, tops a group of 97 3-year-olds nominated for the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 29 at Gulfstream Park.
The Kiaran McLaughlin-trained colt has produced a solid series of workouts at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, since the Jan. 25 Holy Bull in preparation for a highly anticipated start in the 63th running of the Florida Derby.
“He’s doing great. He’s probably doing better than I am, waiting all this time. He continues to train great and we’re very pleased with him,” McLaughlin said. “He’s ready. Every week he’s been working great.”
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby has produced the winners of 57 Triple Crown races during its illustrious history, including the Shug McGaughey-trained Orb, who followed up victories in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and Florida Derby last season with a triumph in the first leg of the Triple Crown.
Sheik Mohammed’s Darley Stable recently purchased majority interest in Cairo Prince from Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig Robinson, whose $250,000 purchase at the 2012 Keeneland September Sale has won three of four starts – his only loss coming in a tough-luck nose decision to Florida Derby nominee Honor Code in the Remsen (G2) last season.
Wildcat Red and General a Rod, who have developed a rivalry with a pair of thrilling stretch duels in Gulfstream’s other two major preps for the Florida Derby, are scheduled to face off again while taking on the imposing Cairo Prince.
J. Armando Rodriguez’s General a Rod edged Honors Stable Corp.’s Wildcat Red by a head following a stretch-long battle in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby at a mile on Jan. 1. The Jose Garoffalo-trained Wildcat Red came back to get the better of the Mike Maker-trained General a Rod following a race-long duel to score by a head in the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) at 1 1/16 miles on Feb.22. Between clashes with General a Rod, Wildcat Red shortened up to register a dominating 4 ¾-length triumph in the $200,000 Hutcheson Stakes (G3) at seven furlongs on Feb. 1.
Todd Pletcher, who is well on his way to capturing his 11th straight training title at Gulfstream Park, leads all trainers with 24 nominations for the Florida Derby. Constitution, a two-time winner during Gulfstream’s Champions Meet, is scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Florida Derby for Twin Creeks Racing Stables and WinStar Farm. The son of Tapit captured his debut in a seven-furlong maiden contest on Jan. 11 before posting a front-running 3½-length victory in an allowance race on Jan. 22, running 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.19, a clocking that compared favorably with the 1:41.85 that it took Wildcat Red to edge General a Rod later in the card. Other prominent nominees who have visited the Gulfstream Park winner’s circle following impressive outings are the Spot and Social Inclusion.
Spot made an auspicious first outing for Hall of Famer Nick Zito, rallying from off the pace to draw off to a 2 ½-length victory in the $200,000 Swale Stakes (G2) on March 1. The gelded son of Pulpit had won one of five previous starts before being purchased privately by Joseph Moss.
Social Inclusion’s impressive two-race experience at Gulfstream prompted multi-million-dollar sale offers to Ron Sanchez’s Rontos Racing Stable Corp., which bought the son of Pioneerof the Nile for $60,000 at the 2012 Keeneland September Sale. The Manny Azpurua-trained colt, who captured his maiden in his Feb. 22 debut by 7½ lengths, caused a buzz on the Triple Crown trail by defeating a comebacking Honor Code by 10 lengths in a $75,000 open allowance while setting a track record with a 1:40.97 clocking for 1 1/16 miles.
The Grade 1 Florida Derby is one of seven graded-stakes race on the March 29 program, which will offer eight stakes in total. Supporting Gulfstream’s signature race will be the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), the $200,000 Pan American (G2), the $150,000 Orchid (G3), the $150,000 Rampart (G3), the $100,000 Skip Away (G3), the $100,000 Appleton (G3), and the $100,000 Sir Shackleton.