Materiality states Kentucky Derby case with flourish in Florida trial.
Report USA AMERICA'S champion trainer Todd Pletcher added another string to his Kentucky Derby bow on Saturday when Materiality got the better of a thrilling battle with Upstart to maintain his unbeaten record in the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, writes Nicholas Godfrey.
Sent off a 9-5 chance for the first of this year's Grade 1 Kentucky trials, the son of Afleet Alex sat on the shoulders of front-running Jack Tripp from the outset before taking over on the far turn, where he was joined almost immediately by even-money favourite Upstart.
The pair then duelled for the remainder, Materiality edging right entering the final furlong under John Velazquez before holding on in gritty fashion to win by a length and a half. The first and second drew right away from third-placed Ami's Flatter, who was more than 12 lengths adrift.
Materiality, who stopped the clock in 1min 52.3sec, was having only the third start of his life, having won a maiden special weight at Gulfstream in January before scoring this month at the Florida venue.
Three winners of the Florida Derby in the last decade - Barbaro (2006), Big Brown (2008) and Orb (2013) - have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May and Materiality is a best-priced 16-1 with William Hill to follow suit.
The Mike Maker-trained International Star will also head to Churchill Downs after completing a hat-trick at Fair Grounds with a hard-fought success in the Louisiana Derby. The 23-10 favourite had to call on every ounce of effort under Miguel Mena to overcome the tenacious Stanford by a neck in the $750,000 event.
Former British-trained fillies dominated the Grade 2 Honey Fox at Gulfstream, where Lady Lara, now with Bill Mott, scored by a neck over Al Shaqab's Sandiva. The winner started life with Alan Jarvis and the runner-up won last year's Nell Gwyn Stakes for Richard Fahey.
Materiality (right) and Upstart engage in a stretch duel in the Florida Derby before the former scores by a length and a half