Orb swoops late to stake Derby claim.
Report USA WITH two major Kentucky Derby trials on Saturday night, Ballydoyle didn't have to wait long to see the sort of opposition UAE Derby hero Lines Of Battle will face at Churchill Downs on May 4, writes Nicholas Godfrey.
Orb will go to America's most celebrated race as a major contender after overpowering Itsmyluckyday at Gulfstream Park in the Florida Derby, the first of this year's Grade 1 trials.
Late-running Orb scored by two and three-quarter lengths in a time of 1min 50.87sec under jockey John Velazquez, who dominated proceedings with a five-timer at Gulfstream, including four Graded-stakes victories.
"The Derby is my dream, but we never tried to overdo it," said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. "Hopefully, this is the one who can take us there but I'm pretty excited about the first Florida Derby I've ever won."
Disappointment of the race was Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Shanghai Bobby, who faded tamely on the far turn to finish a dismal fifth in the $1 million event to leave jockey Rosie Napravnik's Kentucky aspirations in tatters.
His trainer Todd Pletcher couldn't put a foot wrong elsewhere with no fewer than five Graded-stakes winners split between Gulfstream and Fair Grounds in New Orleans, where he saddled Revolutionary to take the Louisiana Derby.
The 12-5 favourite held off the late charge of Mylute to post his own Kentucky claims in the colours of WinStar Farms, carried to success at Churchill Downs in 2010 by the Pletcher-trained Super Saver.
"He's a very brilliant horse, a smart horse," Revolutionary's jockey Javier Castellano said.
"He's a three-year-old but he acted like a five- or six-year-old. I went around all of the horses and it was very impressive the way he did it. I'm looking forward to the Kentucky Derby big time."
Pletcher was also successful in Grade 2 events at Fair Grounds with Graydar and the unbeaten Unlimited Budget, plus a couple at Gulfstream with Dreaming Of Julia, who took the Gulfstream Oaks by a widening 21 lengths, and Michael Tabor's Ciao Bella. VVMORE at racingpost.com VVTHE Markets, page 22
John Velazquez drives Orb to the line in the Florida Derby