Audible roars to victory in G1 Florida Derby

Saturday, March 31st, 2018

Coglianese Photos/Kenny Martin

By Sarah Mace

Audible’s powerhouse win in Gulfstream Park’s Holy Bull Stakes on February 3 generated lots of Derby buzz, but if anyone still questioned whether the Into Mischief colt should be taken seriously as a Kentucky Derby contender, Audible probably laid most doubts to rest on Saturday afternoon when he scored a decisive victory from well off the pace in his toughest test yet – Gulfstream Park’s Grade 1, $1,000,000 Florida Derby.

While under the microscope in the leadup to the Florida Derby, Audible’s apparently lackluster approach to morning duties, well-documented by XBTV videos, worried some observers.

When questioned, however, Todd Pletcher – who trains the colt for China Horse Club International Ltd. (Ah Khing Teo), Head of Plains Partners LLC (Sol Kumin), Starlight Racing (Jack Wolf) and WinStar Farm LLC (Kenny Troutt) –  replied patiently that Audible has always been that way and there was nothing to be concerned about. Pletcher was right.

Marooned by the draw in post eight (of nine) but bet down to 3-2 favoritism on the strength of the Holy Bull performance, Audible was forced to exert some energy early to get into position before the clubhouse turn under jockey John Velazquez.

Two-wide and moving smoothly through the clubhouse turn in fifth, early on in the backstretch run Audible dropped back, actually racing for a time in last place, ten or more lengths from the leaders. Midway along the backstretch, though, Audible regathered his momentum and started picking off horses, advancing into fifth by the approach to the far turn.

As John Velazquez explained, “I had to use my horse to get position on the first turn. I was in the spot I wanted to be in going into the backstretch and after that I was pretty happy. The only thing that concerned me was when he got to the backstretch he started backing up a little bit. I thought I was overdoing it so I had to give him a little chance on the backstretch to regroup again and once he got his stride back together and when he started moving again on the backstretch I was very happy with the way he was doing it.”

Meanwhile up front, the two speediest horses in the race, Promises Fulfilled and Strike Power, set the table with a lightning-fast pace, each intent on getting the lead. The pair ran the opening half mile in splits more suited to a sprint  (21.95, 46.38), opening up six lengths or so on Mississippi in third.

Coglianese Photos/Leslie Martin

Midway around the far turn bend the pacesetters wilted, leaving Mississippi to inherit the lead, but he no sooner struck the front than Audible loomed at his flank, engaged and took over while straightening away for home.

Despite drifting out a bit in the final furlong, Audible drew off to a no-doubt-about-it three-length score in a final time of 1:49.48. Hofburg, a Bill Mott trainee facing winners for the first time, rallied impressively to finish second while Mississippi had to settle for the third.

Completing the order of finish were second choice Catholic Boy, Millionaire Runner, Tip Sheet and Storm Runner, followed by pacesetting duo who brought up the caboose. [VIDEO REPLAY]

“It played out the way I thought it was going to be,” said Velazquez. “I talked to Todd and we thought there were the two horses with speed and Julien [Leparoux]’s horse [Mississippi] who was wearing blinkers for the first time, so we figured he’d probably come out running.”

Pletcher concurred. “The race unfolded with the pace that we were hoping for and we wanted to get some position into the first turn, which he was able to do beautifully. Just watching the race I was a little concerned at the five-eighths pole because he started to drop back a little bit, but I could tell Johnny wasn’t panicked. He kind of grabbed him up and sometime midway down the backstretch he started to pick up horses and I started to feel better and better. You could tell the pace up front had developed pretty swiftly so you felt like those horses were going to start to come back at some stage.”

Velazquez was also impressed with Audible’s finish.  “Once he got to the horses on the lead I just tried to keep him busy down the lane and he kicked pretty good. I didn’t ride him last time but he way he ran today he was definitely impressive. [The distance] didn’t seem to bother him at all. I think the farther he goes the better he gets.” Velazquez was aboard for the colt’s first two starts, but Javier Castellano piloted Audible to victory in an open allowance at Aqueduct and the Holy Bull.

The Florida Derby has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown events, including 24 Kentucky Derby champions. Three of the last five Kentucky Derby winners – Always Dreaming, Nyquist (2016) and Orb (2013) — also won the Florida Derby. Audible, with 110 points, shares the top spot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with Noble Indy.

Bred by Richard Leahy’s Oak Bluff Stables, LLC and foaled at Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, Audible is a graduate of the Fasig-Tipton New York-bred preferred yearling sale, where he was purchased from Winter Quarter Farm by 4H for $175,000. When presented to the world as a juvenile at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale, China Horse Club and WinStar Farm had pay a premium price of $500,000 to take him home.

Audible’s dam Blue Devil Bel, who was bred and campaigned in New York by Leahy, is a multiple winner and six-figure earner by Gilded Time and a half-sister to multiple stakes winner and stakes producer Akilina, who is the dam of Rieno Tesoro, a group winner in Japan, and Governor Malibu, a stakes winner and multiple graded stakes-placed New York-bred runner. Blue Devil Bel has yearling filly by Lookin At Lucky and was bred in 2017 to Constitution.

From four consecutive victories following a third-place finish on debut last September, Audible has earned $882,920.


Leave a Reply