Audible Roars To Impressive Florida Derby Victory

China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing, and WinStar Farm‘s Audible make quick work of Saturday’s G1 Florida Derby, racing away to a three-length win as the 8-5 favorite. The 3-year-old son of Into Mischief carried John Velazquez through nine furlongs in 1:49.28 over Gulfstream Park’s fast main track, defeating the highly-touted recent maiden winners Hofburg (8-1) and Mississippi (10-1).

It marks the fifth Florida Derby win for trainer Todd Pletcher, who won both the Florida and Kentucky Derbies last year with Always Dreaming. Audible earned 100 points toward the Run for the Roses with his Florida Derby win, and could be poised to repeat his stablemate’s effort on the first Saturday in May.

“The race unfolded with the pace that we were hoping for and we wanted to get some position into the first turn, which he was able to do beautifully,” Pletcher said. “Just watching the race I was a little concerned at the five-eighths pole because he started to drop back a little bit, but I could tell Johnny wasn’t panicked. He kind of grabbed him up and sometime midway down the backstretch he started to pick up horses and I started to feel better and better. You could tell the pace up front had developed pretty swiftly so you felt like those horses were going to start to come back at some stage.”

Audible was impressive back in February’s Holy Bull Stakes, which he won by 5 1/2 lengths, but lackluster workouts in the mornings had many racing pundits questioning the colt’s talent. With just 10 points from his Holy Bull win, Audible would have to finish first or second in the Florida Derby in order to make the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Pletcher was nonchalant when asked about Audible’s workouts, expressing no concern, and the colt did all his talking on the track with another big effort.

He broke well under Velazquez, working his way to a fourth-place position heading into the first turn. Up front, Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power were absolutely flying through a brutal first quarter mile in :21.95, clearing the rest of the field by almost five lengths approaching the backstretch. As Fountain of Youth winner Promises Fulfilled secured a one-length lead, he eased the pace down to mark a half-mile in :46.37, but the early speed would prove to be more than he could overcome late in the race.

Strike Power was able to settle in second down the backstretch, leading Mississippi and Storm Runner as Audible was passed by Catholic Boy.

“It played out the way I thought it was going to be,” said Velazquez. “I talked to Todd and we thought there were the two horses with speed and Julien [Leparoux]’s horse [Mississippi] who was wearing blinkers for the first time so we figured he’d probably come out running. I wanted to come out running and I had to use my horse to get position on the first turn. I was in the spot I wanted to be in going into the backstretch and after that I was pretty happy. The only thing that concerned me was when he got to the backstretch he started backing up a little bit. I thought I was overdoing it so I had to give him a little chance on the backstretch to regroup again and once he got his stride back together and when he started moving again on the backstretch I was very happy with the way he was doing it.”

The field began to compress approaching the far turn, with Velazquez keeping Audible in the clear on the outside as much as possible. By the five-sixteenths pole, Audible was just over three lengths from the leaders and Velazquez had yet to ask him for his best.

Mississippi briefly took over the lead nearing the head of the lane, but the three-wide Audible was coming home like a steam roller. Velazquez asked him the question and Audible responded brilliantly, galloping away from the field with ease to cross the wire three lengths in front. The highly-touted Hofburg, a son of Tapit trained by Bill Mott, ran on very well to finish a clear second, and it was another 7 3/4 lengths back to Mississippi in third.

“Once he got to the horses on the lead I just tried to keep him busy down the lane and he kicked pretty good,” added Velazquez. “I didn’t ride him last time but he way he ran today he was definitely impressive. [The distance] didn’t seem to bother him at all. I think the farther he goes the better he gets.”

Remsen winner Catholic Boy had tried to run with Audible around the far turn, but fell short and was only able to finish fourth. The remaining order of finish was as follows: Millionaire Runner, Tip Sheet, Storm Runner, Strike Power, and Promises Fulfilled.

Bred in New York by Oak Bluff Stables, Audible was a $175,000 yearling at the Fasig-Tipton Saratoga New York-bred sale. WinStar and the China Horse Club combined forces to purchase the colt for $500,000 from the Fasig-Tipton Florida Select 2-year-old in training sale in March, but he did not debut until September of his juvenile season. Audible was third that day, but rebounded to win in his second start at Aqueduct in mid-November. From there, he progressed to a 9 3/4-length allowance win at Aqueduct in early December. Eight weeks later Audible captured the Holy Bull in impressive fashion, and skipped the Fountain of Youth to wait for the $1.1 million Florida Derby.

Overall, Audible has won four of his five starts for earnings of nearly $950,000. He now tops the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 110 points, just ahead of stablemate Noble Indy (Louisiana Derby).

The full point standings are available here: Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

Hofburg, meanwhile, is also likely to earn a spot in the starting gate with the 40 points he earned for his second-place finish. A Juddmonte Farms homebred, the Tapit colt is out of the Touch Gold mare Soothing Touch. Trained by Bill Mott and ridden by Jose Ortiz, Hofburg was fourth in his only start as a 2-year-old at Saratoga, but broke his maiden by a half-length at Gulfstream on March 3. The Florida Derby was just his third career start.

“I think we’re all pleased,” Mott said after the race. “Naturally, winning would have been the only thing that would have been better but he ran well and he galloped out well. He took ak lot of dirt and he was very professionial. He did everything right. He was much more seasoned today when he came down here and was in the post parade and everything. He seemed to be more at home. We had him down here for a few days. He was here since Wednesday so he had an opportunity to train here and school in the gate. He was much better. He was the perfect gentleman and a professional today.”

Watch the race replay here:

The post Audible Roars To Impressive Florida Derby Victory appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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