John Velasquez would not be denied at Gulfstream Park on Saturday afternoon.
Riding Orb, the Hall of Fame jockey completed a 5-of-5 sweep of his races at the park on the afternoon, riding the aforementioned Orb to a come-from-behind victory after an inspired run down the final furlong.
With the win, expect to see Orb in the starting gate on May 4, as the Florida Derby helped position another horse into the Kentucky Derby field.
Merit Man jumped out to an early lead out of the gate from the No. 8 post, holding a lead over Narvaez and Itsmyluckyday until the field rounded the final furlong.
Velazquez and Orb then made their collective move.
Riding neck and neck with Itsmyluckyday down the stretch, Orb took the outside move and chased down the top-two leaders, pulling away in the last few strides to give trainer Shug McGaughey a spot in the Run for the Roses and Velasquez his fifth win of the day.
Shanghai Bobby, which started in the furthest-inside post, faltered out of the gate and finished well back of the top-four finishers in fifth—a disappointing run for a horse that won all five of its starts as a two-year-old.
Take a look at the results, payouts and analysis from this prequel race to the 2013 Kentucky Derby.
Florida Derby 2013 Results
|Place||Horse||Payout (Win, Place, Show)||Post|
|1||Orb||$7.80, $3.80, #3.40||6|
|6||Pick of the Litter||2|
|8||Are You Kidding Me||9|
Payouts (based on $1.00 bets)
In case you missed it, here's a look at some of the stats from the race, courtesy of Churchill Downs' PR account on Twitter:
Florida Derby Order of Finish. 6-3-8-10-1-2-5-9-7-4. Margins: 2 3/4, 2 1/4, 5, 3/4, 2 3/4, 4 1/2, 3 1/4, 5 1/4, head. Time: 1:50.87— Churchill Downs PR (@DerbyMedia) March 30, 2013
While it isn't any surprise to some after 3/1 odds, Orb took care of business in a big way on Saturday.
The young horse wasn't as highly-favored as fellow participants Itsmyluckyday or Shanghai Bobby, but he was clearly the most explosive horse on the outside of the starting gate and made up for his slow start with a furious pace down the final few furlongs of the race.
As noted by Ray Paulick on Twitter, Orb is a dangerous horse when thinking about the big race in May:
In my opinion, Orb won Florida Derby without really being trained that hard by Shug McGaughey: a few half-mile breezes. Big step forward.— Ray Paulick (@raypaulick) March 30, 2013
Orb won its last race (at Gulfstream Park, no less) in late February, cruising to a victory at the 2013 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Velasquez and the young colt built on that momentum with another win at Gulfstream on Saturday, one that raises the stakes with the Triple Crown now in its blinders.
The rest of the field has work to do. The top-four finishers all gain points toward earning a spot in the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field, but Orb and Velasquez come away from this race with the biggest selling points toward why you should pick Orb when it comes to your Kentucky Derby selections.