Kentucky Derby Next for Audible and Trainer Todd Pletcher
Most handicappers and horsemen knew Audible was the one to beat in the Florida Derby. But horse racing does not always play to form and the best horse is not always victorious. Much was on the line for Audible and his Kentucky Derby-winning connections trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez. But Audible delivered as needed by winning the $1 million Florida Derby to secure his spot in the May 5 Kentucky Derby.
Breaking near the outside from the No. 8 post in the nine-horse field, Audible (7-5) went two wide into the first turn before being maneuvered out widest in the backstretch. Audible was 8th at the half mile marker as Fountain of Youth winner Promises Fulfilled (7-1) set the pace going a quick and contested 21.95 opening quarter, 46.37 half mile and continued to lead through six furlongs in 111:68. But both Promises Fulfilled and his nearest stalker Strike Power (9-2) would fade badly at the far turn, with Mississippi (10-1) staying strong in third. But Audible began to get underway four wide on the far turn with Catholic Boy (5-2) making a move between horses at the top of the stretch as well. From the back of the pack, Hofburg was also getting in gear just behind Audible.
But as they turned for home, Audible wrestled command outside Mississippi and drew off through the furlong grounds, moving on well clear and winning by three lengths in a 1 1/8 mile final time of 1:49.48. Audible earned $595,200 in victory for his connections, and returned $5.20, $4.00 and $3.00 while Hofburg ($7.20, $4.40) finished 2nd nearly eight lengths clear of Mississippi and 4th place finisher Catholic Boy.
“I used him a little too much going into the first turn but by the time I got to the backstretch I had to give him a little break where he got to be comfortable again and then he started rolling,” Velazquez said. “I was pretty happy after that.”
An eight week layoff was no issue for Audible, and he earned 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Audible will take a four-race winning streak into the Triple Crown campaign that starts at Churchill Downs May 5. Hofburg picked up 40 points and will also qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
“I think we’re all pleased,” said Bill Mott, Hofburg’s trainer. “Naturally, winning would have been the only thing that would have been better, but he ran well, and he galloped out well.”
Gulfstream Park had to be pleased as well, as the Hallandale Beach, Florida track had a record single-day handle of $49,909,070. That was $8 million more than any other day in Gulfstream history, and nearly $18 million more than Florida Derby day a year ago.
“A truly special day,” Gulfstream Park general manager Bill Badgett said.