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Apr 03, 2009

American turf club lead

By: Joe Girardi

            The Swale Stakes at seven furlongs and the highlight of the meeting the Florida Derby were run on March 28th at Gulfstream Park. The Swale Stakes had a field of six with BIG DRAMA and THIS ONES FOR PHIL leading the way and the toteboard bore that out as they were sent off at 1.80-1 and 1.60-1 respectively.

            When the gates opened CUSTOM FOR CARLOS was sent to the lead but was quickly joined by BIG DRAMA  with THIS ONES FOR PHIL a few lengths behind in third. BIG DRAMA quickly took over through a quarter in 23, 45, and the pace began to heat up, THIS ONES FOR PHIL came outside and was sent after the leader. Through the lane both horses battled right down to the wire with BIG DRAMA coming back to score by a half length in a final time of 1:20:4, track record time. However, after a review of the tapes and an inquiry and jockey objection it showed that BIG DRAMA did indeed come out in midstretch and bump with THIS ONES FOR PHIL and again near the wire. This resulted in a D’Q which made THIS ONES FOR PHIL the winner. BIG DRAMA was extremely impressive considering he was coming off a December layoff and was still game enough to come back in track record time. BIG DRAMA may be able to get involved in the top three year old races later this year.

            The big race of the day, the Florida Derby was the next race on the card. There were seven horses that went postward but there were only three that took any money. DUNKIRK, a slight favorite brought his undefeated record into this race, QUALITY ROAD was the close second choice at 6-5 and THEREGOESJOJO was not that far behind at 3-1. The next price was a 35-1 shot followed by 71-1, 77-1 and then finally 87-1. Longshot CASEY’S ON CALL was sent to the lead with QUALITY ROAD getting outside and was able to sit second with THEREGOESJOJO not that far back in third. DUNKIRK, was racing in sixth early while under a ride to stay in it. After the first quarter mile in 23:2 they put up another 23:2 quarter through a half in 46:4. As they went past the ¾ mark QUALITY ROAD took over the lead with THEREGOESJOJO trying to go with him and then DUNKIRK came with a big wide run to join the leaders and actually got to a head in front as QUALITY ROAD tried to gather himself, quickly responding to comeback and take the lead. As they went through the lane QUALITY ROAD began to get away from DUNKIRK and they both drew away from THEREGOESJOJO who had check a bit at the top of the lane. The final time of the race was 1:47:3 which was another track record. DUNKIRK was six lengths clear of THEREGOESJOJO who was 2 ½ lengths clear of STATELY CHARACTER who checked in fourth. The top two finishers in this race are serious contenders for the Kentucky Derby but DUNKIRK unfortunately may not get in on the virtue of his graded earnings. He may have to wait it out until the Preakness but if he did get in it would make for an interesting first Saturday of May.

            The Dubai World Cup card was run on the same day as the Florida Derby. The American contingent got back on track when WELL ARMED, a horse that ran well here in the past finishing third to CURLIN after setting the pace last year rebounded with a huge performance. He went right to the lead, set the pace and drew away through the lane to score by 14 dominating lengths. That was to be the last race at Nad Al Sheba as they will run the World Cup at a different track next year, probably with a synthetic surface and possibly a $10 million purse.

            The UAE Derby was also run with two leading contenders from Godolphin getting in their final preps. DESERT PARTY was a heavy favorite but came up second best to REGAL RANSOM. The latter was sent to the lead and never looked back turning the tables on DESERT PARTY. They were 15 lengths clear of the show horse and it now gives Godolphin two hopes for the Triple Crown. But again coming through Dubai will not be the easiest thing as we have seen this method fail before.


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