Orb downs Violence in Fountain of Youth
Report: USA, Saturday
Gulfstream Park: Fountain Of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) dirt, 1m½f, 3yo
ORB (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez) defeated odds-on favourite Violence for a third consecutive victory, ending the unbeaten record of Todd Pletcher's Kentucky Derby hope in the process.
Violence, ridden by Javier Castellano is one of several contenders for the Kentucky Derby from Pletcher's yard, and as short as 12-1 for the race with British bookmakers, but was cut down by Orb, who came late off a fast pace to score by half-a-length.
McGaughey trains the homebred for Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable, and will talk to connections before deciding where to go next. The Fountain of Youth is the main prep race for the Florida Derby, but McGaughey said: "I don't know what the next outing will be, but we'll see and talk to the Phipps and Stuart Janney and see what they want to do and go from there."
Reflecting on the winner's performance, McGaughey added: "The strides he has made this winter are just absolutely incredible. I was watching on the television so I couldn't see the fractions, but when they came into the picture I said to myself 'if they slow down he's going to catch them.' Of course Violence kept going a bit, but I still thought we had him."
Pletcher was happy with Violence's effort, with the previously unbeaten three-year-old conceding 6lbs to the winner. "You could see Orb coming with that long sustained run and I think Violence was able to dig in pretty well actually in the stretch and we just came out on the short end."
Also on Saturday
Fair Grounds: Risen Star Stakes (Grade 2) 1m½f dirt, 3yo
Outsider Ive Struck A Nerve (Keith Desormeaux/James Graham) proved he could stay the extended mile trip when coming from last to first in the $400,000 contest. Another trial for the Kentucky Derby, Ive Struck A Nerve returned at 135-1, just holding off the rallying Code West.
Mineshaft Handicap 1m½f, dirt 4yo+
Mark Valeski (Larry Jones/Rosie Napravnik) overcame trouble in running under a fine ride to win by a length. The four-year-old has now won four of his eight starts, with Jones adding that a return to the track for the Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap next month is the target.