WinStar Farm's Gemologist took an impressive first step on the 2012 Kentucky Derby trail at Gulfstream Park on Friday, easily winning the battle of unbeatens against Currency Swap in the 3RD race. Under confident handling by regular rider Javier Castellano, the Todd Pletcher trainee led throughout and drew seven lengths clear to extend his record to four-for-four.
Gemologist had not raced since November 26, when he captured the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs. The Tiznow colt had recently posted a pair of bullet drills, however, and was sent off as the 3-5 favorite. Currency Swap, sidelined for more than six months since his victory in the Grade 1 Hopeful, rated as the 6-5 second choice.
Showing early speed from the rail, Gemologist established fractions of :24 4/5 and :47 2/5. Currency Swap was poised just a length back in second, but Gemologist began to edge away, on his own volition, through six furlongs in 1:11 1/5.
Currency Swap was still in game pursuit entering the stretch, until Gemologist picked up in earnest. Spurting clear in just a few strides, the winner opened up by three lengths, and Castellano never had to ask his mount a serious question.
Gemologist more than doubled his margin while well in hand, finishing the one-turn mile in a snappy 1:35 4/5 on the good track. The undefeated colt returned $3.40, $2.20 and $2.10.
Currency Swap crossed the wire five lengths ahead of Angel's Tune, Gemologist's stablemate from the Pletcher barn. Jordan's Image and Brother Pat completed the order of finish.
Gemologist has now bankrolled $184,855. A front-running winner of his debut in a six-furlong maiden at Turfway Park, the bay colt also dictated the pace next time in a 1 1/16-mile allowance/optional claimer at Churchill Downs. Gemologist showed a new dimension in the Kentucky Jockey Club over the same track and trip, where he rated early before rallying to a 1 3/4-length decision.
That victory evoked memories of Super Saver, who turned a rare Kentucky Jockey Club/Kentucky Derby double for the same owner/trainer team just a couple of years ago. Gemologist was projected to follow a path similar to Super Saver, with two Derby preps.
Originally penciled in for Saturday's Grade 2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park, Gemologist instead stayed home in South Florida for Friday's allowance, with connections citing shipping issues and the opportunity to get a small field. He reverted to his old pacesetting tactics while shortening up in distance.
Gemologist could still go the Oaklawn route in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby on April 14. Super Saver, who kicked off his 2010 campaign at Tampa, used a narrow loss in the Arkansas Derby as his springboard to glory at Churchill.