A new rivalry is emerging in South Florida between General a
Rod and Wildcat Red. The last time the two colts met, Wildcat Red lost a close
decision to the Maker trainee in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year’s Day.
In the interim, General a Rod trained up to today’s G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes while Wildcat Red picked apart a field
of eight rivals in the G3 Hutcheson Stakes on February 1. Today marked the
second time the two colts have faced each other, and they wasted no time in taking
it to one another straight out of the gate.
Breaking from adjacent posts 4 and 5, Wildcat Red and General a Rod shot straight to the front and quickly distanced themselves from the
rest of the field. Posting splits of 23:03 and 46:25, the duo raced in tandem.
At the quarter mile call, Wildcat Red had the lead by a neck. By the half mile
call, General a Rod had gained the lead by a quarter length. By the
three-quarter mile call, however, Wildcat Red had regained the lead and refused
to concede it from there on out.
Running what appeared to be a completely different race
behind the dueling leaders, C. Zee and Medal Count were duking it out in the
third and fourth positions. Betting favorite, Top Billing languished in his usual spot at the rear of the field,
and third betting choice Commissioner
took up position in mid-field. As the field approached the far turn, Top
Billing and jockey Joel Rosario launched their bid up the rail, slowly followed
by long shot East Hall.
Exiting the turn, Wildcat Red and General a Rod continued on
for home, and Top Billing wheeled out of the turn in third, switching to the
outside to continue his bid to catch the leaders. Hitting the three-quarter
call in 1.10:13, the leading duo continued on strong, maintaining their advantage
to the wire. Try as Top Billing might, he could only pull within 2 lengths of
the first and second place finishers. It was a photo for the top spot, with
Wildcat Red turning the tables on General a Rod to get the win by a scant head.
Despite the narrow margin of victory and race long duel,
jockey Luis Saez, who was aboard Wildcat Red for the first time, was confident
in his mount. “At the top of the stretch, I knew I was going to win the race,
because my horse, all the time he tries so hard. When we came into the stretch,
he fight, and he never let the other horse pass him. He’s a great horse,” Saez
stated. “(At the wire) I wasn’t sure, but I thought I got the win,” he then
As the 9-2 fourth betting choice, Wildcat Red returned $11.00/$5.00/$3.40
for a $2 wager. He completed and the mile and a sixteenth race in 1.41:85.
Third betting choice General a Rod paid $4.60/$3.20, and favored Top Billing
returned $2.60 for getting up for the show. East Hall closed from the back of
the field to round out the superfecta. As a Road to the 2014 Kentucky Derby championship race, Wildcat Red received 50 points
for the win, General a Rod received 20 points for the place, Top Billing
received 10 points for the place, and East Hall was awarded 5 points for
The $2 exacta was worth $46.20, the $1 trifecta paid $72.60,
and the $1 superfecta returned $906.60. The order of finish was completed by
Medal Count, Commissioner, Our Caravan, We Miss Artie, Best Plan Yet, C. Zee,
Almost Famous, and Hesinfront.
Trainer Jose Garoffalo was rightfully triumphant about his
colt’s victory, “We proved that we were right, that the horse could get the
distance. I thought (General a Rod) was the horse to beat and the race was a
copy of the last race, the Gulfstream Park Derby, but this time I got lucky and
In regards to Wildcat Red being sent so early, Garoffalo
explained, “Javier knows my horse, that’s why he went after him very early.
When my horse feels another horse alongside, he runs harder. Now we can think
seriously about the (Kentucky) Derby. He never quits and he likes that—to feel
the horse next to him.” So long as Wildcat Red comes out of the Fountain of
Youth in good order, the G1 Florida Derby on March 29 will be the next step. From there, if all goes according
to plan, Garoffalo plans to take Wildcat Red straight to Churchill Downs to
prepare for the Kentucky Derby.
Garoffalo purchased Wildcat Red at the Ocala Breeders’ Sales
Company 2013 June Two-year olds in Training and Horses of Racing Age Sale for
$30,000 on behalf of Honors Stable Corp. A son of D’wildcat out of the Miner’s
Mark mare Racene, Wildcat Red has paid dividends on his initial purchase price,
winning purses worth a total of $490,850. He improved his overall career record
to 6: 4-2-0 with today’s victory.