Racing News

Quartet work for Florida Derby

  • General a Rod was one of four Florida Derby hopefuls on the Saturday worktab (Lauren King/Adam Coglianese Photography)

Cairo Prince, the likely favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby on March 29, worked five furlongs Saturday morning in 1:00 4/5 at the Palm Meadows Training Center. Off since his authoritative display in the Holy Bull on January 25, the three-year-old went in company with elder stablemate Elnaawi and forged ahead in the final stages of the exercise.

"He worked very well," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said. "We didn't want another 59 and change (breeze) from him. We put him in different company this time and he went a minute and four fifths. He kind of eased up the last part, the rider did, but we're very happy with him. That's what we wanted. We wanted 1:01, so that's perfect."

Purchased for $250,000 as a yearling at Keeneland, Cairo Prince started his career for the partnership of Namcook Stables, Paul Braverman, Harvey Clarke and Craig Robertson III. Earlier this month, it was revealed that a majority interest in the son of Pioneerof the Nile had been sold to Godolphin for an undisclosed sum. The sophomore will carry Godolphin's blue colors in the flagship Gulfstream event.

McLaughlin had originally intended to start Cairo Prince in the Fountain of Youth on February 22, but opted to train up to nine-furlong Florida Derby instead. The colt has shown tactical speed in each of his four starts to date, and McLaughlin expects that pattern to continue in two weeks' time.

"It's a little bit of a concern, because in the Fountain of Youth the two horses went gate to wire together," McLaughlin added. "But (the track) seems to be pretty fair lately and we don't come from last, although with all that speed in there we might be shuffled back. It's okay. He's doing great and we're happy. We'll work back next week and be ready for the Florida Derby."

Hutcheson and Fountain of Youth winner Wildcat Red returned to the work tab with a half-mile breeze over Gulfstream Park's main track.

Trained by Jose Garoffalo, Wildcat Red went three furlongs in :34 3/5 and a half-mile in :47 4/5 under regular exercise rider Paco Mendoza in his first work since winning the Fountain of Youth by a head over General a Rod.

"The horse went very good. I think the track was a little bit fast, but he did it as easy as he usually does," Garoffalo said. "I was expecting maybe 48 or so, but it was good. He is getting fitter and now with every race is getting better. The plan is on. We're going to breeze him one more time next week and then we'll be ready, hopefully.

The Florida Derby will be the seventh career start, all at Gulfstream, and third of the Championship meet for Wildcat Red. He was second by a head to General a Rod in the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on January 1 before turning the tables in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth, just three weeks after romping in the seven-furlong Hutcheson. The Florida Derby is run at 1 1/8 miles.

"He gallops one time around, and then he finishes. The second time around is the breeze," Garoffalo said. "When I'm going to run long and run a distance, I always do that. My breezes are not for speed. He's got natural speed, so what he needs is the stamina. That kind of horse, I don't breeze from the pole because they get too anxious. I relax the horse during the gallop and then let him go the last three-eighths or quarter of a mile. He did everything as we expect. We're still going step-by-step, day-by day, but everything is good so far."

Looking to get a strong work into General a Rod prior to his next scheduled start in the Florida Derby, trainer Mike Maker breezed the Gulfstream Park Derby winner five furlongs over the main track.

Regular exercise rider Joel Barrientos was up for the work, which went in :59 2/5. Last Saturday, General a Rod went four furlongs in :51 1/5.

"He worked great," Maker said. "He gave us exactly what we were looking for. He's an easy horse. He can train himself. If you want to go fast, that's fine; if you want to go slow, that's fine, too. We picked it up a little today, and it was no problem at all."

Maker plans to breeze General a Rod again next Saturday. The Roman Ruler colt was second in an allowance on November 30, opening day of the Championship meet, before beating Wildcat Red in the Gulfstream Park Derby and losing their rematch in the Fountain of Youth.

"He's doing great," Maker said. "We're just hoping to keep him the same."

Medal Count, who is also being considered for the Florida Derby, went five-eighths in :59 for trainer Dale Romans at Gulfstream on Saturday. Jockey Corey Lanerie was aboard.

Medal Count was fifth in the Fountain of Youth after winning a 7 1/2-furlong allowance on the turf at Gulfstream on January 12 to open his three-year-old season.

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