Collaborate Back To One Turn After Ambitious Try In Florida Derby

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. knew he was taking a big gamble when he entered lightly raced Collaborate in the Florida Derby (G1) off an impressive maiden win. And the result, a fifth-place finish, validated his initial concern that perhaps it was too much too soon.

“We were trying to get a little adventurous,” Joseph acknowledged of the one-shot, all-or-nothing attempt to reach the Kentucky Derby (G1). “Maybe it was a little quick off a maiden win. But I still believe in him. I haven’t lost faith in him.”

With the Triple Crown no longer a consideration, Joseph has devised a new campaign for the 3-year-old, starting with Saturday’s $75,000 The Roar at Gulfstream Park. Collaborate will face five rivals in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes, including two of his own stablemates.

“We’re going back to one turn,” Joseph said. “I think that’s going to be his strength.”

Collaborate, owned by Three Chimneys Farm and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds, created an instant buzz in late February when he broke his maiden by more than 12 lengths in a one-turn mile event. That performance was so electric that Collaborate was sent off as the 9-2 second choice in the Florida Derby.

But Collaborate was unable to duplicate his maiden win, faded late in the 1 1/8-mile stakes, and lost by nearly 15 lengths to Known Agenda.

Joseph said the colt’s outside post position (9) was not to blame.

“If he had carried himself to the sixteenth pole and got beat by three or four lengths, I could have blamed the draw,” Joseph said. “But he just came up empty. He went from traveling good to empty. I just feel maybe the two turns got to him.”

Saturday’s sprint stakes should be more to Collaborate’s liking, Joseph said. And it could position him for major stakes this summer. Joseph has set the Allen Jerkens Stakes (G1) at Saratoga on Aug. 28 as one potential target for the son of Into Mischief.

“You want to think ambitiously with horses,” Joseph said. “If this horse shows up, he’ll be very tough to beat. He has to win Saturday to justify going on any further. He has to prove he can beat horses. But this is going to be a test.”

Collaborate, who will be ridden for the first time by Edwin Gonzalez, could face his stiffest challenge from two of his stablemates, Moonlite Strike and Lauda Speed. Sonata Stable’s Moonlite Strike ran third in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2) while Stefania Farms’ Lauda Speed finished third in the six-furlong Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream on March 6. Joseph said he fully intends to race all three horses in The Roar.

“All three are going to run,” Joseph said. “This race was the target for all three. But we’ve got to beat the other three horses, too.”

The rest of the field includes Penny Lopez’s Oh Steve, fresh off a maiden win, Arindel Stable’s Gatsby, which will be seeking his first stakes win, and Just for Fun Stable’s Warrior’s Pride, who is exiting a win in the Texas Glitter Stakes at five furlongs on the turf.

Of his three horses, Joseph said “I think Collaborate has shown the most ability of all of them. But the others have all proven themselves and have more experience.”

The post Collaborate Back To One Turn After Ambitious Try In Florida Derby appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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