Reveron isn’t one of the high profile contenders coming into the Florida Derby, but it might be shortsighted to overlook him.
In the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day, despite coming in off back-to-back wins at Calder and having finished on the board in the first four starts of his career, Reveron was allowed to go off at 8-1. He took the lead early and never relinquished it to become the nation’s first Derby winner of 2012.
Reveron comes into Saturday’s million-dollar Florida Derby off a subsequent third-place finish in the Grade III Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. He was nosed out for the place by Prospective, who came back to win the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby.
As fine as that effort was, Reveron’s trainer, Venezuelan born Agustin Bezara, doesn’t think it truly reflected the ability of the colt -- in fact, he says Reveron is the finest talent he has had in 36 years of training. This is saying a lot for a conditioner who won more than 2,000 races in his homeland, including the prestigious Simon Bolivar three times. He's been in the U.S. three years.
He said he doesn’t think Reveron was comfortable on the deep Tampa track, which has a pronounced crown. The stress of vanning across the state also took a toll; Bezara said the ship stressed out Reveron.
“He held on well, as good as horses do,” Bezara said through an interpreter. “He came back with a lot of pain in his muscles.”
The opportunity to run close to his Calder base influenced Bezara’s decision to take on Union Rags and other heralded 3-year-olds in the Florida Derby. Union Rags has really impressed him, Bezara said, but he didn’t want to make a return trip to Tampa and was even less enthused about vanning 26 hours to the Grade III Illinois Derby.
Reveron’s one-for-one record at Gulfstream also figured into Bezara’s decision. “He knows this track. He has won at this track. And it’s close.”
This doesn’t mean Bezara is totally opposed to going out of town for a major race. “This horse is ready to travel, but it has to be for something specific,” he said.
Would the Kentucky Derby be specific enough? Bezara didn’t wait for the translation. “Si. Yes,” he said.
--Edited Gulfstream Park release