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G1 Florida Derby Likely for Impressive Maiden Winner Collaborate

Feb 28, 2021
Fountain of Youth (G2) Runner-Up Drain the Clock Cutting Back
Champion Filly Vequist “Happy and Sound’ After Davona Dale (G2) Loss

 
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Three Chimneys Farm and e Five Racing Thoroughbreds’ 3-year-old colt Collaborate, an eye-catching maiden winner on Saturday’s Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth day program at Gulfstream Park, may have run himself onto the Triple Crown trail.
 
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. said Sunday morning that the sophomore son of Into Mischief, also bred by Three Chimneys, is likely to make his next start in the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa March 27.
 
The Florida Derby offers 170 qualifying points (100-40-20-10) to the May 1 Kentucky Derby (G1), as do the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct and Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, both run April 3. All three preps are contested at 1 1/8 miles.
 
“The Florida Derby is at home and he just has to walk out of his stall,” Joseph said. “I talked to the owners briefly yesterday and it will probably be between the Florida Derby, the Wood or the Blue Grass, but the Florida Derby will be the front-runner.
 
“Off [Saturday’s] race, we’re probably going to take a chance somewhere,” he added. “We feel like he’s a Derby horse. I know we’re a little behind schedule, but with the ability he has he can probably overcome it.”
 
Collaborate broke sharply and set a measured pace under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, going in splits of 23.72 seconds, 46.57 and 1:11.12 before beginning to edge away from his 10 rivals. He hit the stretch six lengths in front and kept rolling to win by 12 ½ at the end in 1:36.35 for one mile over a fast main track.
 
“We weren’t surprised. That’s hard to say with a horse winning like that but that’s the horse we thought he was,” Joseph said. “The first time out, we got him beat. It hurt to get him beat first time out, because we thought he was that good, but you always have to look at the positive in each scenario and the first time I thought he gained valuable experience.”
 
Collaborate also went off as the favorite for his debut, a six-furlong maiden special weight Feb. 6, where he endured traffic issues after getting away poorly and wound up sixth though beaten just 1 ¼ lengths.
 
“He was off a tad slow, took a lot of dirt, had to split horses, had to wait, [but] I thought the experience first time out was priceless,” Joseph said. “It hurt getting him beat, but if you draw the positives from the race it was priceless experience and it carried over to yesterday. He stretched out to a mile for the first time and he got a fairly easy race which, in hindsight, I don’t mind because his first race I thought was a pretty hard race on him.”
 
Joseph made his Triple Crown race debut last fall with John Fanelli, Cash is King, LC Racing, Paul Braverman and Team Hanley’s Ny Traffic. Runner-up in the Louisiana Derby (G2), Matt Winn (G2) and Haskell (G1), he finished eighth in the Derby and ninth in the Preakness.
 
“It’s very exciting to have the owners that we have providing these horses to us. We’re thankful,” Joseph said. “The horses will make good trainers and we’ve got some really quality horses now and we’re thankful for each and every one.”
 
Fountain of Youth (G2) Runner-Up Drain the Clock Cutting Back
 
While impressive maiden-winning stablemate Collaboarate earned the chance to stretch out for a shot at the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa, Saffie Joseph Jr.-trained Drain the Clock isn’t expected to join him.
 
Joseph said Sunday that Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables and Michael Nentwig’s Drain the Clock, himself a sharp winner of the seven-furlong Claiborne Farm Swale (G3) Jan. 30 at Gulfstream in his graded debut, would remain at shorter distances for now.
 
Drain the Clock set the pace in the 1 1/16-mile Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) Saturday at Gulfstream, his first attempt around two turns, and nearly pulled off the upset before getting reeled in by Holy Bull (G3) winner Greatest Honour.
 
“Talking to the owners briefly after the race, initially I think we’re going to step back and keep him at one turn. We tried it and I think he handled the mile and a sixteenth, but I don’t think we’re going to try to push it,” Joseph said. “I think we have a really good horse. I feel like we have a Grade 1 horse and he’s probably going to be best at one turn, so most likely we’re going to stick to one turn.”
 
The Fountain of Youth was the first loss for Drain the Clock in a race where he finished. He broke his maiden and beat winners in an optional claiming allowance last fall at Gulfstream and Gulfstream Park West, respectively, before losing his rider on the backstretch of the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs. He returned to South Florida and opened his 3-year-old season with a win in the Jan. 3 Limehouse that set him up for the Swale triumph.
 
Drain the Clock ran splits of 23.66 seconds, 47.18, 1:11.51 and 1:37.45, taking a 2 ½-length lead into the stretch before Greatest Honour, trained by Hall of Famer Shug McGaughey, closed stoutly on the outside to win by 1 ½ lengths. Drain the Clock, second choice in the wagering behind the winner, was two lengths clear of 18-1 long shot Papetu in third.
 
“He looked like a winner at the quarter pole but he got run down by a horse that has a lot of stamina and excellent ability in Shug’s horse. A credit to Shug for the job he’s done with that horse. We lost nothing in defeat. You like to win if you can but if any horse runs like that, you walk away thankful and happy,” Joseph said. “He’s doing well. He ate pretty good last night and seemed to cool out well.”
 
Champion Filly Vequist ‘Happy and Sound’ After Davona Dale (G2) Loss
 
Gary Barber, Wachtel Stable and Swilcan Stable’s Vequist, the champion 2-year-old filly of 2020, emerged from her ninth-place finish in Saturday’s $200,000 Davona Dale (G2) at Gulfstream Park in good order.
 
First or second in her four starts at 2, including wins in the Spinaway (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1), Vequist was making her 3-year-old debut in the one-mile Davona Dale.
 
“She came out of it really well,” trainer Robert E. ‘Butch’ Reid Jr. said Sunday. “We did scope her after the race and she was a little dirty. She had some mucus in there and stuff that we can work with, and I think it definitely affected her performance a little bit. But, soundness-wise, she’s great and is happy.”
 
Wholebodemeister, third in the Jan. 30 Forward Gal (G3) at Gulfstream, shocked the Davona Dale at odds of 52-1, taking over the lead after a half-mile and going to a 6 ½-length triumph. Vequist got bumped at the start and was in range of the leaders racing in mid-pack but never threatened and was eased to the finish by jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.
 
“I’m glad Irad took care of her the last part of it when she was hopelessly beaten, so she came back great,” Reid said. “Irad did a great job. He saw that she wasn’t really getting there. He gave her a little eighth of a mile to run, but I know she’s better than that. We’re going to keep looking at her and keep working her and fall back and regroup a little bit, that’s all.”
 
Reid said the connections will continue to monitor Vequist in the coming days before committing to a next start.
 
“We haven’t eliminated anything yet,” Reid said. “It’s going to take us a few days to get a bearing on just where we’re going to head, but right now she’s happy and sound and that’s the main thing.”

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