Untapable's Incredible Victory

Molly Jo Rosen

February 24th, 2014

by John DaSilva

Going into the weekend there was the possibility that the favorite for the Kentucky Derby would emerge from either the Grade 2, $415,000, Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth or the Grade 2, $400,000, Risen Star Stakes. But at the results from both races just gave us more questions than answers.
Fountain of Youth

Coming into Saturday the main track at Gulfstream Park had the look of being speed favoring track. There were five dirt races scheduled that day, four of them going two turns. The first three of the two turn races were won in wire-to-wire fashion, which meant favored Top Billing would have his work cut out for him, especially breaking from post 11. With the speed favoring nature of the main track, it meant sprinting types like General a Rod and Wildcat Red were at a huge advantage, especially breaking from inside post positions. General a Rod and Wildcat Red battled for the early lead and it was a virtual match race from start to finish, with Wildcat Red winning by a head over General a Rod. Top Billing was last early and try to make a run to the lead but could only get up to be third, beaten two lengths.

According to Trakus, General a Rod and Wildcat Red ran the final 5/16 of a mile in 31.72 seconds. Top Billing ran the final 5/16 of a mile in 31.02 seconds. Fourth place finisher East Hall ran the final 5/16 in 31.46 seconds. The rest of the field ran slower than 32 seconds for the final 5/16 of the race. Moving forward I would expect Top Billing and East Hall to be Florida Derby contenders while General a Rod and Wildcat Red probably will run in the Florida Derby and will be no more than pace setters for the closers.

Three year old fillies were also in action in the Grade 2, $200,000, Davona Dale Stakes. Favored Onlyforyou took charge from the start and led every step of the way to win by 2 1/4 lengths. Javier Castellano rode the Todd Pletcher trainee to victory, running the mile and a sixteenth in 1:43.71. House Rules was second, defeating Aurelia's Belle by 1/2 length. Pletcher's other runner in the race, Stopchargingmaria, was never involved and finished fifth.

Earlier in the card there was an intriguing allowance race for three-year-olds. Favored Constitution took advantage of the speed favoring track, leading every step of the way to win by 3 1/4 lengths. His final time of 1:42.19 was just .34 seconds slower than Wildcat Red winning the Fountain of Youth.

At the Fair Grounds, the main track seemed a bit more fair to the runners than it was at Gulfstream Park. Todd Pletcher shipped Intense Holiday for the and got Mike Smith to come in from Santa Anita to ride him. After acting badly in the paddock, Intense Holiday raced in between horses during the run down the backstretch. When Vicar's in Trouble made his move to the lead on the far turn, Smith sent Intense Holiday to follow him. At the top of the stretch Smith angled Intense Holiday outside for clear running room and then ran down to catch pacesetting Albano to win by a nose. Intense Holiday can definitely improve off that effort and is one to watch down the road. Albano, who is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes winner Mark Valeski, is expected to return in the March 29, $1 million Louisiana Derby and face Intense Holiday.

In the Grade 3, $196,000, Rachel Alexandra Stakes, Untapable made a powerful move on the far turn to gain the lead and drew off to an impressive 9 1/2 length victory. Her final time of 1:43.64 was actually faster than Intense Holiday in the Risen Star, who ran the same distance in 1:43.86. Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Ria Antonia was making her seasonal debut in the Rachel Alexandra. She finished fourth beaten 14 1/4 lengths. Any thoughts that the connections of Ria Antonia had of facing the boys and possibly running in the Kentucky Derby should be eliminated completely after that performance.