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Tiz the Law surged to the top of the list of 2020 Triple Crown candidates with a dominating triumph in the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream Park, where the son of Constitution will try to cement his No. 1 ranking in Saturday's $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1).
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby for 3-year-olds will be the main event on a sensational 14-race program (first-race post -11:30 a.m.) featuring 10 stakes, six graded, worth $1.825 million in purses. The $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) presented by Fasig-Tipton and the $200,000 Kitten's Joy Pan American (G2) will be highlights on the Florida Derby undercard, along with the $100,000 Hal's Hope (G3), the $100,000 Orchid presented by Rood & Riddle (G3) and the $100,000 Appleton (G3).
The full Florida Derby Day program will be live-streamed on online ADW OffTrackBetting.com.
A mandatory payout of the 20-cent Rainbow 6 has been scheduled for Saturday. There will also be guaranteed pools Saturday for the Late Pick 4 ($500,000) and the Late Pick 5 ($400,000).
Race 14 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, March 28 - Post 6:36 PM
|1||As Seen On Tv||12-1||Paco Lopez
|3||Disc Jockey||20-1||Tyler Gaffalione
|Saffie Joseph, Jr.|
|5||Gouverneur Morris||8-1||John Velazquez
|7||Tiz the Law||6-5||Manuel Franco
|8||My First Grammy||50-1||Hector Berrios
|9||Independence Hall||9-2||Joel Rosario
|10||Candy Tycoon||20-1||Javier Castellano
|11||Sassy But Smart||50-1||Joe Bravo
|12||Ete Indien||4-1||Florent Geroux
Tiz the Law's smashing 2020 debut became all the more impressive when Ete Indien, who finished three lengths behind him in the Holy Bull, went on to produce an eye-catching 8 ½-length front-running victory in the Feb. 29 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park in his absence.
The Barclay Tagg-trained colt will also try to cement a place in the starting gate for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1), which has been postponed from May 2 to Sept. 5, when he takes on 12 rivals (not counting an also-eligible entrant), including Ete Indien, in the 69th running of the Florida Derby. The Florida Derby winner will earn 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
"One of the big reasons is we want to get our points and then not have to worry about that and hopefully keep him healthy and sound so we're able to actually run the race on the first Saturday in September," said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable, which campaigned Tagg-trained 2003 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Funny Cide.
Although Tiz the Law bypassed the Fountain of Youth, his connections are confident that their 6-5 morning-line favorite who drew post position No. 7 will be up to the task of maintaining his top ranking in the Florida Derby.
"He certainly proved in his last race that he can run off a layoff, so I don't think there's any question about that. He showed he liked the track there at Gulfstream. Probably the top competitor there is a horse that we beat in Ete Indien. We beat him going a mile and a sixteenth and I think our horse is absolutely well suited to go more than a mile and a sixteenth," Knowlton said. "A mile and an eighth to him, I don't think is any challenge to him at all."
Tiz the Law distinguished himself as a top-tier horse last season, when he debuted with a 4 ½-length triumph in an Aug. 8 maiden special weight race at Saratoga before going on to capture the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park by four lengths a month later. His only loss in four career starts came in his 2019 finale in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), when he finished a close third over a sloppy Churchill Downs racetrack after lacking room entering the stretch.
Manuel Franco has the return mount aboard Tiz the Law Saturday.
Ete Indien's triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth was particularly impressive considering that he had to break from the far-outside No. 10 post position. The son of Summer Front made quick work of the short run to the first turn with an alert break and a quick burst of speed. The Patrick Biancone-trained colt shook off early pressure while setting the pace on the backstretch and cruised to a comfortable victory under Florent Geroux.
Biancone is confident that 1 1/8-mile distance will be well within Ete Indien's capabilities Saturday.
"I don't think he has a problem with stamina," Biancone said. "He's very manageable. The other day [in the Fountain of Youth], we had to ask him to get out of a bad hole. When he got the lead, he relaxed immediately and he was very manageable. Florent said he came back to him very nicely. He slowed down and relaxed."
Ete Indien, who breeze four furlongs in 48.40 seconds at Palm Meadows Training Center Wednesday morning, has shown considerable versatility during his five-race career, which he kicked off with a fast-closing victory by a neck in a Sept. 13 maiden special weight victory over Gulfstream Park's turf course. Following an extremely wide trip in an off-the-board finish in the Bourbon (G3) on Keeneland's turf course, Ete Indien captured his dirt debut with a front-running 2 ½-length victory in a mile optional claiming allowance Dec. 20 at Gulfstream. He set a pressured pace in the Holy Bull before settling for second, 11 ½ lengths ahead of third-place finisher As Seen On Tv. Ete Indien made a considerable move forward in his Fountain of Youth victory.
"The horse keeps improving from race to race," Biancone said. "Hopefully, he'll keep improving and we should have a really good horse in the summer."
Ete Indien once again drew a far-outside post position (No. 12) for the Florida Derby.
Geroux has the return mount aboard Ete Indien, who is rated second at 4-1 and is owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable Inc., Horse France America, D P Racing LLC and Patrick L. Biancone Racing LLC.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled a record five Florida Derby winners, will be represented by Gouverneur Morris and Candy Tycoon in his quest for a sixth winner of Gulfstream's signature race for 3-year-olds that has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown events, including 24 Kentucky Derby winners.
Team Valor International and WinStar Farm LLC's Gouverneur Morris has raced only once this year, capturing a Feb. 14 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs, where he came close to the track record for a mile and 40 yards while winning by 1 ½ lengths.
"I thought it was a good comeback. It wasn't a cupcake field. He finished up well and seemed to come out of it and has trained strongly since then. We weren't 100 percent sure what his next start was going to be, but based on the strength of his last breeze and the fact that the Florida Derby is right in front of us we felt like we better go ahead and go now," Pletcher said.
Gouverneur Morris created a buzz at Saratoga when he debuted with a nine-length victory Sept. 2. The son of Constitution went on to finish second behind Maxfield in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland to finish off his juvenile campaign.
"He's training as well as ever. I thought in particular his last breeze was the one we were hoping for and kind of sold us on the time to go is now," Pletcher said.
Mathis Stable LLC's Candy Tycoon closed to finish a distant second behind Ete Indien in the Fountain of Youth in his stakes debut. The son of Twirling Candy had broken his maiden by four lengths in his prior start at Gulfstream Park a month earlier while stretching out around two turns for the first time on dirt.
"The last race was an improved performance by him. He's one that we've kind of had high hopes for. He's kind of frustrated us a little bit because he trained a little better than he had been running in the afternoons but that was kind of the first time he settled off the pace a little bit. He seemed to make a move forward doing that," Pletcher said. "This race on paper appears to have plenty of pace so it could be a good setup for him, but once again he needs to step up and make another move forward to get a piece of it."
Hall of Famer John Velazquez has the mount aboard Gouverneur Morris, while Javier Castellano has the call on Candy Tycoon.
Independence Hall, who is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creek Racing Stables LLC, Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti, will seek to make amends for his first career loss Saturday. The Michael Trombetta-trained son of Constitution, who had won his first three race by a combined 21 lengths, moved to the lead in the stretch before being caught by Sole Volante in the Feb. 8 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. Beaten by 2 ½ lengths in his first start around two turns, Independence Hall finished 11 ¼ lengths clear of third-place finisher Ajaaweed.
"Some circumstantial things went against him in the Sam Davis. He got beat that day on the square, but if you consider the trouble that he had in that race, between the tongue tie and losing his right front shoe, the race shape and setup playing against him, I thought it was a really strong effort," Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners' Aron Wellman said. "He's never run a bad race and since that time we've really put a circle around the Florida Derby and he's trained exceptionally well. We've got reason to expect him not to show up and run his `A' race come Saturday."
Previously, Independence Hall won his Sept. 21 debut at Parx by 4 ¾ lengths before capturing the Nov. 3 Nashua (G3) by 12 ¼ lengths and the Jan. 1 Jerome by four lengths, both at Aqueduct.
"With the shift in the schedule and the Kentucky Derby pushed back four months, we're really viewing this as our Kentucky Derby right now. It's prestigious Grade 1 that's very meaningful to his stallion potential. His sire won it, his dam's sire won it, so it would be a huge feather in his cap to be able to add this to his resume," Wellman said. "We're treating this as though it's the Kentucky Derby right now. Hopefully he'll be able to use this to propel himself toward the first Saturday in September, but that's a long way off. This is an important Grade 1 on the calendar right now."
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners will also be represented by Soros, who is trained and co-owned by Gustavo Delgado. The son of Commissioner has been idle since breaking his maiden with a 2 ½-length victory in the Nov. 30 Smooth Air Stakes at Gulfstream. Soros had previously debuted with a second-place finish at Gulfstream Park West.
Joel Rosario is scheduled to ride Independence Hall for the first time Saturday, while Hall of Famer Edgar Prado will have the return mount aboard Soros.
Shadwell Stable's Ajaaweed, who finished a close second in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct before finishing third in the Sam F. Davis; Screen Door Stables LLC's As Seen On Tv, who lost a photo-finish in the Mucho Macho Man at Gulfstream prior to his third-place finish in the Fountain of Youth; Jacks or Better Farm's Shivaree, who finished second in the Swale (G3) and the Hutcheson in his two most recent starts; Frank Carl Calabrese's Disc Jockey, a son of Bodemeister who finished second in a Feb. 17 starter stakes at Gulfstream; Martha Borchetta's Sassy But Smart, who finished fourth on turf in the Palm Beach (G3) last time out; and Maria Ines Mejia's My First Grammy, a maiden; round out the main body of the field. Calumet Farm's Rogue Element, who finished second in a maiden special weight last time out, is an also-eligible entrant.
Team Valor International and WinStar Farm LLC's Gouverneur Morris was confirmed for next Saturday's $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park following a five-furlong workout Saturday morning at Palm Beach Downs.
"He worked as well as he ever has this morning," trainer Todd Pletcher said. "I think we should take what's in front of us [Florida Derby], assuming they keep running at Gulfstream."
Gouverneur Morris breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 while covering the last quarter-mile in 24 seconds.
The 3-year-old son of Constitution, who finished second in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland last year after winning by nine lengths in his debut at Saratoga, captured a Feb. 14 optional claiming allowance at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2020 debut.
The 69th running of the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will highlight a program with 10 stakes, six graded.
Gouverneur Morris is expected to clash with Holy Bull (G3) winner Tiz the Law and Fountain of Youth (G2) victor Ete Indien in Gulfstream's prestigious Triple Crown prep.
March 15 - Sackatoga Stable's multiple graded-stakes winner Tiz the Law returned to the work tab Sunday morning and remains on target for the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28 at Gulfstream Park.
Tiz the Law breezed six furlongs in 1:13.80 over the main track at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream's satellite training facility in Palm Beach County, the fastest of two horses at the distance. It was the fourth work since his win in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 1.
"He worked beautifully," Sackatoga managing partner Jack Knowlton said. "I was up there and it was a good, strong work. One more to go."
Knowlton said Tiz the Law will have his final pre-Derby work at Palm Meadows next weekend. Prior to the Holy Bull, which was the Constitution colt's first race since finishing third in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) Nov. 30, trainer Barclay Tagg shipped Tiz the Law to Gulfstream to breeze.
"We know he likes the racetrack, so we don't have to worry about finding that out," Knowlton said. "It all worked out very well [today], so there's not much you can do now except wait."
Tiz the Law missed some training time with a minor foot bruise in late February that saw him not record a timed work between Feb. 10 and March 2. The 2019 Champagne (G1) winner went five furlongs in 1:01.90, the fastest of 11 horses, March 8.
"He's doing great. He had that little foot bruise, but once we got past that you can see his works. He's working bullets again like he usually does," Knowlton said. "So, all is well and now we're ready to take on whoever shows up."
Among other horses pointing to the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby are Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Ete Indien, second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull; 2019 Nashua (G3) winner Independence Hall; and 2019 Breeders' Futurity (G2) runner-up Gouverneur Morris.
Independence Hall worked five furlongs in 1:00 Sunday at Tampa Bay Downs, second-fastest of 34 horses.
"I expect just like the Fountain of Youth there will be a bunch of horses that end up showing up, but hopefully not more than eight or 10. We'll see," Knowlton said. "We'll be here."
Ete Indien, who stamped himself a serious Triple Crown prospect in the $400,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) Saturday at Gulfstream Park, emerged well from his dominant 8 ½-length triumph, trainer Patrick Biancone said Sunday.
"Very good," Biancone said. "He ate all his dinner and he's happy and sound this morning, which is what you want to see. We're good."
The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth marked the first graded-stakes triumph for Ete Indien, a 3-year-old son of four-time graded-winning millionaire Summer Front owned by Linda Shanahan, Sanford Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, D P Racing and Biancone.
Under Florent Geroux, subbing for injured jockey Luca Panici, Ete Indien led all the way around in the Fountain of Youth, where he broke from the far outside Post 11 following the early scratch of Chance It, who drew Post 12. The winning time was 1:43.02.
"I'm going to be honest with you, he's impressing me every day when he trains since I've had him," Biancone said. "Yesterday, he had a difficult task. We got a bad draw but everything did go well."
Ete Indien opened his sophomore campaign running second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 1 at Gulfstream, 11 ½ lengths clear of third-place finisher Toledo. The two horses are headed for a rematch in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) March 28, where Tiz the Law figures to be a solid favorite.
Purchased in France as a 2-year-old in training last May for $269,640 by Biancone, Ete Idien debuted last September with a maiden special weight score at Gulfstream. After finishing eighth in the Oct. 6 Bourbon (G3) at Keeneland in his second start, he returned to Gulfstream for a 2 ½-length optional claiming allowance score Dec. 20.
"At this age, it's just a question of improvement," Biancone said. "Hopefully he keeps improving and developing the right way. That would be good."
Aron Wellman, managing partner of co-owner Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, said Sunday that after talking with trainer Mike Trombetta, the 3-year-old son and grandson of Florida Derby winners Constitution (2014) and Cape Town (1998) would head south for Gulfstream's signature race.
"That's our current line of thinking right now," Wellman said. "We like the timing of the race. We think it's a race that should accentuate his strengths, and of course being a Grade 1 is also an important consideration. His sire won it and his damsire won it, so that is something that we're hoping to emulate, as well.
"He's doing great. He's already had two breezes since the Sam Davis and it's going to be a challenge to keep him contained until March 28, but Mike and [assistant trainer] Sarah Shaffer are doing a superb job with him and we have every confidence that if all goes well, he'll show up with a big effort on Florida Derby day."
Wellman said the tentative schedule for Independence Hall, whose owners also include Twin Creeks Racing Stables, Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti, would have him work twice more at Tampa Bay Downs, weather permitting, before shipping to have his final Florida Derby work at Gulfstream.
Independence Hall broke his maiden at first asking in September at Parx, then stepped up and stretched out for a 12 ¼-length romp in the one-mile Remsen (G3) at Aqueduct. He won the Jerome at the same track and distance Jan. 1 before heading to Trombetta's winter base in Florida.
In the 1 1/16-mile Sam Davis, Independence Hall was never far from a pace that saw the half go in a robust 46.52 seconds, took the lead after six furlongs and carried in into the stretch before being caught by Sole Volante and beaten 2 ½ lengths to the wire. It was another 11 ¼ lengths back to Ajaaweed in third.
Wellman said not only did Independence Hall lose his tongue tie before the Sam Davis, but also his right front shoe coming out of the starting gate.
"That likely had more of an impact on his performance than the tongue tie did. All credit to Sole Volente on the day; he beat us on the square. But, those are a couple things that certainly didn't act in our horse's favor," Wellman said. "He did all the dirty work, he chased a very fast pace and he was the only one that was up there left standing at the wire.
"By all accounts, we were very pleased with his performance. Obviously, you never want to get beat, but it was a very good performance and I think we take a lot away from it, as well," he added. "We never had an intention of having him peaking on Feb. 8. Our goal is to be peaking as the year progresses, and we're hoping that the Florida Derby is one event along the way that sees him find his best form."
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