"Whoosh" went Monarchos around the rest of the field in the golden anniversary edition of the Grade 1 Florida Derby, which was run for a $1 million purse March 10. That 12-second interval is being referred to as "the move" in thoroughbred racing circles from coast to coast.
The winning move and the 4Â½-length win margin were so superior that when Monarchos returned to the winner’s enclosure in the Gulfstream infield he had become one of the favorites for the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Monarchos, a son of Maria’s Mon out of a Dixieland Band mare, had made only four career starts prior to the Florida Derby.
Unsuccessful in a pair of outings as a 2-year-old, the Kentucky-bred broke his maiden at first asking as a 3-year-old at Gulfstream Jan. 13 by six lengths, then returned to tally by four and three-quarters here Feb. 3 in his first trip around two turns.
Trained by John Ward and owned by John Oxley, Monarchos has been ridden throughout his 3-year-old campaign by Jorge Chavez, the meeting’s leading rider. He is being pointed for the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct for his next start April 14.
In the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth, Songandaprayer made the pace along the rail, then responded to mild urging in the lane to hold on for a 2Â½-length tally, surprising most of the crowd on hand with a $38 win mutuel.
Owned in majority by former Duke and NBA basketball star Bobby Hurley, Songandaprayer is trained by John Dowd and was ridden by Edgar Prado for the first time in the Fountain of Youth. He was fifth in the Florida Derby and is under consideration for the Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland as well as the Wood Memorial.
Sir Bear came from well off the pace to win the 56th running of the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap by a half-length on March 3, returning a $21 straight payoff. Owned by Barbara Smollin and trained by Ralph Ziadie, the 8-year-old gelding was ridden there by Eibar Coa.
Captain Steve prompted the early pace, took command leaving the backstretch and held sway in the lane to capture the Grade 1 Donn Handicap Feb. 3 in the first of five Grade 1 races at Gulfstream this season. A Bob Baffert trainee owned by Michael Pegram, he was ridden by Gulfstream’s leading stakes rider Jerry Bailey in the Donn and scored as the 7-5 choice of the fans, beating the Nick Zito-trained Albert the Great by a length and a quarter.
Jockey Jorge Chavez wrapped up his third consecutive riding title at Gulfstream. He was the leading rider in 1999 with 91 victories and last year with 77 wins. John Velazquez was second.
"Chop Chop" Chavez, a 38-year-old native of Peru, rode the winners of five stakes races during the session, including a smashing victory aboard Monarchos in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1). He was also aboard De Bertie in the Rampart Handicap (G2) and Sabin Handicap (G3); Associate in the Appleton Handicap (G2); and Honourable Pic in the Equalize Stakes.
Jockey Jerry Bailey broke his record of 12 stakes victories at a 63-day Gulfstream meeting, set in 1995. Bailey’s biggest stakes victory came when he rode Captain Steve to victory in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap Feb. 3. He also won two Grade 2 stakes during the meeting, scoring with Yonaguska in the Hutcheson Stakes and with Innuendo in the Orchid Handicap.
Bailey also rode Innuendo when she won the The Very One Handicap (G3). Bailey, who won his fourth Eclipse Award as champion jockey in 2000, won double stakes with two other horses ”” Gold Mover in the Forward Gal Stakes (G3) and Cadillacing Stakes, and Istintaj in the Deputy Minister Handicap (G3) and Mr. Prospector Handicap (G3).
Trainer Bill Mott captured the 2001 training title at Gulfstream Park, which is his eighth training title in the last nine years at Gulfstream. Allen Iwinski was runner-up.
Mott, who at 45 became the youngest trainer inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1994, saddled two stakes winners during the meeting: Subtle Power, who won the Gulfstream Park Breeders’ Cup Handicap (G1); and Rock and Roll, winner of the Cryptoclearance Stakes.
Trainer Mark Hennig won more stakes races during the Gulfstream Park meeting than any other trainer. Hennig visited the winner’s circle six times. Two of his horses were double stakes winners: Gold Mover, who won the Forward Gal (G3) and Cadillacing Stakes; and Istintaj, who took the Deputy Minister Handicap (G3) and Mr. Prospector Handicap (G3).
Hennig, a 35-year-old native of Mansfield, Ohio, also saddled Mystic Lady to win the Herecomesthebride Stakes (G3), and Call It Off, to win a division of the Super Track Racing Series.
Bruno Schickedanz topped the owners’ list in numbers of wins during the meeting. Horses owned by the 44-year-old resident of King City, Ontario, Canada, visited the winner’s circle 15 times to lead runner-up Monarch Stable (9 winners) through Wednesday’s card.
Schickedanz had horses with four different trainers at Gulfstream. They are Barbara Pirie, J. Alec Fehr, Allen Iwinski and Alex McPherson.
Owner John Oxley held the lead over the Kleins (Bertram, Elaine and Richard) in most money won by an owner category at this meeting. Horses owned by Oxley won $696,035. Horses wearing the Kleins’ lime green-and-black silks earned $618,395.
Much of the money won by Oxley came from Monarchos’ victory in the $1 million Florida Derby. The winner’s share was $600,000. My Tarapsa Farm’s Elvi Gamble was the only horse to set a track record last session at Gulfstream Park. The George Angelopos-trained runner lowered the track record for about five furlongs on the turf when she won the Marshua’s River Stakes on March 14 in :554/5 over a firm course.
And so, the guru goes into hibernation for the next 9Â½ months.
Gulfstream Guru’s Sunshine State Six:
Horse Trainer/Jockey Next Start Comment
MONARCHOS Ward/Chavez Wood Mem. — 4/14; "The Move" heard ”˜round the world; hopefully did not peak too soon
AP VALENTINE Zito/Day Flamingo — 4/7; Zito still says OK. So do I. Ignore allowance prep at Gulf
HERO’S TRIBUTE Ward/Undecided Blue Grass — 4/14; gets hood for Blue Grass as J.D. expects mount when Jorge goes to NY same day for top choice
OUTOFTHEBOX Flint/Nakatani Flamingo — 4/7; Team Flint running out of excuses. I say gets better closer to first Saturday in May
BURNING ROMA Giglio/Migliore Wood or Blue Grass. Owner denies goal for Twin Spires. Horse seems to tell different story
SONGANDAPRAYER Dowd/Prado Wood or Blue Grass. Wide trip in Fla Derby didn’t help. Like the connections; would be great story