Florida Derby Top Runners in Good Shape

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3/30/2014
5:09 pm EDT

Constitution emerged from his victory in the Besilu Stables Florida Derby in good order, reported trainer Todd Pletcher.

“He came out of it really well. He returned home to Palm Meadows this morning and seemed to be in good shape,” said Pletcher on Sunday.

“He's a horse that has progressed a lot over the winter. He broke his maiden in January, won an allowance in February and he won the Florida Derby in just his third start--that's pretty impressive,” said Pletcher.

The trainer said Constitution will continue to train at Palm Meadows, but for how long

“I’m not a 100 percent sure yet. I’m thinking about 12 days before (the Kentucky Derby). I’d like to have one work at Churchill,” Pletcher said. “I’ll just have to see how the weather is here and how the weather is there. I’ll have to see how things go about flight arrangements and things like that.”

Wildcat Red to Kentucky Derby

Trainer Jose Garoffalo said Sunday Wildcat Red will go to the Kentucky Derby. He’ll remain at Gulfstream Park for now.

“It was kind of bittersweet, but good. We’re happy with the horse,” Garoffalo said of his narrow loss to Constitution. “The horse did his job. We trained the horse to win the race, but races are races. You can either win or lose. But the horse showed that he can go longer, and proved to a lot of people that they were wrong. In a way, there are a lot of positive points.

“We still have to evaluate the horse. We’ll give him two or three days to check how the horse is doing, but according to the way he came back everything seems that we’re going to go to Louisville.

The timing for the ship is firming up in Garoffalo’s mind.

“We’re going to be there maybe a week before and let the horse adapt to the track,” he said. “He’s the kind of horse that can run on any track. I’m not afraid of the track or if he’s going to handle it. We will give him the opportunity to know the track. We’re probably going to work here and we’ll only gallop there. He’s a smart horse.”

Garoffalo went one step further.

“He is a monster,” Garoffalo said. “He’s the kind of horse that you don’t see too often. He’s got the heart, he’s got the guts. He’s amazing. He’s a once-in-a-lifetime horse.”

General a Rod in Kentucky

General a Rod left Gulfstream Park early Sunday morning on a flight back to trainer Mike Maker’s base in Kentucky, where he will continue on the Triple Crown trail.

The Roman Ruler colt emerged from his third-place finish in good shape said Maker’s assistant, Elesar Chavez.

Maker flew back to Kentucky after saddling Vicar’s In Trouble to a win in the Louisiana Derby. Owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, Vicar’s In Trouble did his final work for the Fair Grounds race at Gulfstream.

“He came back really good,” Chavez said of General a Rod. “He came back like it was nothing. He was fine. I talked to Mike this morning and told him the horse came back really good, but he needed a little bit more teaching of how to pass the other horses. Mike said he was happy to be third, the way the horse ran.”

General a Rod has raced once at Churchill Downs, finishing second to Conquest Titan in a one-mile entry-level allowance on Nov. 30.

“He beat some nice horses,” Chavez said. “I asked Mike what he thought, and he said he proved he could run, and he’s going to make a couple changes so he can run better next time. He said if everything is well, he is going to go on to the next one.”

Chavez didn’t comment on what those changes might be.

Cairo Prince ‘Happy and Sharp’

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin was extremely disappointed by Cairo Prince’s fourth-place performance, but that the horse is doing well the day after.

“He’s very happy and sharp out of the race,” McLaughlin said. “But it’s just been a tough, tough day. I haven’t been able to say what went wrong. It’s very disappointing. We’re disappointed, almost shocked at the results. But it is horse racing and it is what it is. He’s fine out of the race and we’d like to go on if we can, but the points situation isn’t favorable.”

Cairo Prince’s 24 total points may not be enough to earn a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. With the Santa Anita Derby, Wood Memorial, Arkansas Derby and the Toyota Blue Grass still yet to be run, and each race carrying 185 points, Cairo Prince, currently 16th on the leaderboard, is in jeopardy of being shut out.

“The way the points are now, there are four races out there for eight horses to get first and second (and enough points to qualify). So we’re hoping that they’re already in, but that’s not likely,” McLaughlin said.

What’s next?

“He’s going to stay here right now, but that could change,” McLaughlin said. “Plan A didn’t work and we don’t really have a Plan B. I’m going to have to talk to everybody, all the owners, and make a Plan B.”

Edited Gulfstream Park release