Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez rallied Orb from seventh place to run down heavy favorite Violence (3-5) in the final strides to win the G2 $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
The rapidly improving Orb was relegated in the betting windows to a far second choice at 5-1, but he did make up that very same ground on the race as he chased and caught Violence in the home stretch to win his stakes debut.
As expected, Majestic Hussar took the lead but led the field with swift fractions of 23.11 and 45.45 for the first two clock stops.
Violence was second, a length behind after the first quarter-pole, but settled for fourth in the back stretch, as Cerro and Sr. Quisqueyano passed him on the outside and settled 1.5 lengths behind Majestic Hussar.
Orb was still sixth after the half-mile biding his time, eight lengths behind the leader, Majestic Hussar.
The three-quarter pole fractional was a freakish 1:08.85, which might have cost Violence the race. He was just a half length behind Majestic Hussar, while Orb was still fifth over five lengths behind.
Jockey Javier Castellano seemed to be moving Violence with ease to the front, but once the fractional was posted, you knew it was a matter of time before someone would catch them in the stretch.
Violence led the field as they turned for home, but Orb was hitting his best stride just passing Majestic Hussar and positioning himself just 1.5 lengths behind Violence.
Once they hit the final furlong, Orb had just passed Violence and looked like he would draw clear and win the race. But Violence reacted and gamely came back to fight for the lead with Orb reacting himself and edging him by a neck at the wire.
It was 6.75 lengths back to Speak Logistics, who rallied to finish third. Majestic Hussar was a good fourth considering the sensible pace he set up front, and he held He's Had Enough by three-quarters of a length.
Orb has been rapidly improving steadily with every start and was primed for a big moved forward on this race.
He had broken his maiden two races back on Nov. 24 at Aqueduct on a $67,000 Maiden Special Weight race at a one-turn mile. On that race, he beat impressive G3 Withers Stakes winner Revolutionary, who finished third.
On his debut, Orb finished third just over a length to Violence and highly regarded Titletown Five. But he jumped at the start and spotted the field about four to five lengths right away.
He fell back 14 lengths behind the leader Titletown Five at the quarter-pole, and as he was making his run around the turn he had to go six wide before making his late charge closing ground fast to finish third.
Orb is a son of Malibu Moon out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, homebred by owners Stuart S. Janney III and Phipps Stable.
He is trained by Shug McGaughey and was ridden by John Velazquez after regular rider Joel Rosario opted to run Speak Logistics.
He now has a lifetime record of 6-3-0-1 with earnings of $321,050 and earned 50 points for the new Kentucky Derby qualifying points system with the win.
Kentucky Derby Qualifying Points Earned
Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth Stakes - Grade: 2
Distance: One-and-One-Sixteenth Miles on the Dirt
Track Condition: Fast
Winning Time: 1:42.24 Fractions: 23.11, 45.45, 1:08.85, 1:35.37
|1||Orb||John R. Velazquez||12.80||4.00||3.00|
|8||Speak Logistics||Joel Rosario||4.00|
|Also ran: 4 - Majestic Hussar , 9 - He's Had Enough , 6 - Cerro (IRE) , 11 - Sr. Quisqueyano , 2 - Joshua's Comprise , 5 - Elmutahid|
|Scratched horses: Sky Captain (Trainer) , Falling Sky (Trainer)|
|Winning Breeder: Stuart S. Janney, III LLC. & Phipps Stable|
|Winning Owner: Janney, III, Stuart S. and Phipps Stable|
|Winning Trainer: Claude R. McGaughey III|
|Wager Type||Winning Numbers||Payoff|
|$1 Pick 3||4-4/11-1 (3 correct)||56.30|
|$2 Daily Double||4-1||35.00|