In the Money

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Florida Derby runners emerge from race in good order

March 31st, 2013

Reports from connections of the top finishers in Saturday’s Grade 1 Florida Derby indicate the runners emerged from the race, won by Orb, in good order.

Orb, who notched his fourth straight win with the victory, will remain at his home base of Payson Park for “at least a week,” trainer Shug McGaughey said. derby 2

McGaughey said all was well with the son of Malibu Moon Sunday morning.

“I’m kind of surprised how well he bounced out of his race, to tell you the truth,” McGaughey said.

John Velazquez, Orb’s main pilot, must now decide between the Florida Derby winner and unbeaten Verrazano, who runs in the Wood Memorial on April 6 for trainer Todd Pletcher.

If Velazquez chooses Verrazano, McGaughey will be scouting for a new jockey for the current Derby points leader.

“We’re going to have to wait until next week,” McGaughey said about the decision. “It’s not a problem. I knew going in.”

Itsmyluckyday, runner-up to Orb in the Florida Derby, was “110 percent” Sunday morning at his Calder base according to trainer Eddie Plesa.

“I believe he has the points (50) to get into the (Kentucky) Derby,” Plesa said. “I haven’t thought a lot about when we’ll take him up there (Churchill Downs), but I’d imagine probably about a week before.”

“I really wanted to win the Florida Derby. It would have meant so much to me and the other owners, but I was very pleased with his race and Orb was the best horse Saturday. As important as Saturday’s race was to us, it wasn’t the ultimate goal.

“I had my reasons to give him the 60-plus days between the Holy Bull and the Florida Derby and I still wouldn’t change anything with having made that decision. It may have made some difference in how he ran Saturday, but it was just a stepping stone.”

Trainer Bob Hess said Merit Man, third in the Florida Derby, would not target the Kentucky Derby.

“He’s great this morning,” said Hess. “I’m really proud of him. He got beat by two very good horses. He had a good winter here and he will go to New York from here. There are a number of options we’ll consider like the Peter Pan, which is a one-turn, mile-and-an-eighth at Belmont Park, the Woody Stephens, or even the Preakness could be a possibility.”

Trainer Todd Pletcher reported Sunday morning that Shanghai Bobby came out of this fifth-place finish in the Florida Derby in good order. The 2012 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile champion has only 26 points and likely would need more points to qualify for the Derby.



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