Constitution foiled a very game Wildcat Red
to earn his third victory in as many starts in the Florida Derby. During the premiere race’s first quarter, Wildcat
Red and Constitution were both rank. Constitution, tossing his head, reluctantly
settled into third behind Wildcat Red and General A Rod, who tracked his nemesis
through a sensible first quarter in :24 and a half in :48. Just passing the half mile pole, it looked
like Déjà vu all over again as General A Rod inched up to tackle Wildcat
Red. The two hooked up as they did in
the Gulfstream Park Derby and Fountain of Youth. Meanwhile on the rail, Constitution was hot
on their tails in third. By the 3/8 pole, Florida Derby favorite Cairo Prince moved
up to race in tandem with Constitution and it looked like the Florida Derby
might evolve into a four-horse race. Just past the quarter-pole, Jockey John Velazquez on Wildcat Red glanced over his left shoulder at the Todd Pletcher
trained Constitution. Remarkably,
Wildcat Red then drifted out slightly, leaving an opening at the rail.
Taking a page from the game book of Calvin
Borel, jockey Javier Castellano cut the corner and surged up the rail to engage
the front-runner. The two battled to the
finish, with Constitution hitting the wire a neck in front of a game Wildcat
Red. General A Rod, who was two and
three wide the entire way, finished third, 1 ½ lengths behind the duo. Cairo Prince was 2 ¼ lengths back in fourth
after a tepid four wide move on the final turn.
The race fractions were :24, :48.19, 1:12, 1:36.46 and 1:49.16. The final race time for 1 1/8 miles over the
fast track was over a second faster than last year’s Florida Derby Champ Orb
(1:50.87) and comparable to Ice Box’s 2010 race time of 1:49.18. Ice Box finished second in that year’s Kentucky
The Florida Derby Champ earned a whopping
100 landing him in second place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.
Wildcat Red was awarded 40 points, giving him a total of 90 points. General A
Rod received 20 points for finishing third, and he has a total of 40
points. Cairo Prince earned 10 points for his fourth place finish in the
Florida Derby. He has chalked up 24 points on the Kentucky Derby trail.
Bred by Grapestock LLC & Fox Hill Farms,
CONSTITUTION (Tapit - Baffled, by
Distorted Humor) sold in the 2012 Fasig Tipton Saratoga Select Yearlings sale
for $400,000 to Twin Creeks Racing and WinStar Farms. Sent to Todd Pletcher for training,
Constitution worked well towards his first start, which was targeted for the
end of the Saratoga 2013 meet.
Unfortunately, the colt developed sore shins and needed some time off. After recovering, Constitution finally made
his debut in a maiden race at Gulfstream Park in mid-January. Although he hesitated at the start, Constitution
won the seven furlong race by a length.
Five weeks later, the son of Tapit made short work of a field of
allowance runners. Breaking sharply, Constitution drew off to defeat another
well-regarded son of Tapit, Tonelist. Breeders' Cup Juvenile participant
Mexikoma and Remsen Stakes (G-2) third place finisher Wicked Strong were also
in the field. With the Florida Derby victory firmly under
his girth, Constitution remains a perfect three for three and has earned $649,350.
Constitution is by the pretty
gray TAPIT (Pulpit - Tap Your Heels,
by Unbridled), who won
the 1 1/8 mile Wood Memorial impressively, but suffered a career-ending injury
before the Kentucky Derby. Tapit is a
son of sire-of-sires Pulpit and a grandson of the Intermediate/Classic
Chef-de-Race A.P. Indy, who is a son of the legendary Seattle Slew. The gray stallion owns a strong,
classy distaff line. His dam is a
daughter of Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled. Tapit's second, third and fourth dams
are blue hens.
Tapit was off to a
tremendous start at stud when he sired two Champions right off the bat. Stardom
Bound, a daughter from Tapit’s first crop, earned Juvenile Filly Championship
honors in 2006 after earning wins in five consecutive Grade 1 events, including
the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.
Tapit’s son As De Trebol earned honors as Spain’s Champion Juvenile in
the same year. At stud, Tapit has proven his
versatility, getting wines from sprints to 1 1/8 miles over all surfaces. So
far, he’s sired three stakes winners, all over dirt at 1 ¼ miles; Alabama Stakes (G-1) heroine Carless
Jewel, Hawthorne Gold Cup (G-2) winner Headache and Japan Dirt Derby (Gr. 1)
hero Testa Matta. Two runners, Rattlesnake Bridge and Oilisblackandgold have placed
at the classic distance. From seven crops of
racing age, Tapit has sired four Champions, 29 graded stakes winners and 48
listed stakes winners.
Constitution’s dam BAFFLED (Distorted Humor
- Surf Club, by Ocean Crest) began her career in England. She won her two year
old debut over the Polytrack and was third in the Group 3 Albany Stakes. Baffled returned to the USA as a three year
old and raced at the allowance class level. She retired early in her four year
old season with a 14-2-0-3 ($63,219) race record.
Constitution is Baffled’s first foal to
race. He has an older half-sister by
More Than Ready, plus a 2012 unnamed half-sister by Congrats and a 2013 half-brother
by Tiznow. . Baffled is a full sister to Surfer, who is
stakes placed in the UAE. She’s also a half-sister
to Forego Stakes (G-1) hero Emcee (by Unbridled’s Song) and the turf stakes
winner Spring Party (by Smart Strike). Constitution second dam Surf Club is a half-sister
to the multiple graded stakes winner Awesome Humor (by Distorted Humor). Third dam Horns Grey (by Pass the Tab) is a
DISTORTED HUMOR (Forty Niner - Danzig's
Beauty, by Danzig) was a multiple graded stakes winning sprinter/miler. He
earned victories in the Ack Ack (G-3, 7 ½ f), Churchill Downs Handicap (G-2, 7f),
Salvador Mile (G-3), Amsterdam Stakes (G-3, 6f) and set a new track record at
Keeneland for seven furlongs in 1:20.50 in the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup
Stakes (G-2). Racing for three years,
Distorted Humor racked up a 23-8-5-3 ($769,964) race record.
The son of Champion Forty Niner retired to
stud for a $12,500 fee. Many breeders
expected that Distorted Humor would sire fast, precocious offspring. They were
right. The chestnut stallion lead the 2000
Freshman Sires list with 15 winners and five stakes winners. His first crop
included Spinaway heroine Awesome Humor and eventual Kentucky Derby winner Funny
Cide. Distorted Humor’s fee rocketed over the years to $100,000. His offspring include the aforementioned
Funny Cide, Travers hero Flower Alley, Belmont Stakes winner
Drosselmeyer and stakes record setting Commentator. To date, Distorted Humor has sired two
Champions, 47 graded stakes winners and 114 listed winners. He’s been in the top ten on the leading sire list
Remarkably, Distorted Humor’s daughters
have produced no stakes winners at 1 ¼ miles, although four have placed at the
distance. The stallion is still relatively young broodmare sire and there aren’t
many chances for runners to go 1 ¼ miles. I think this slight will be rectified
as the stallion’s daughters bear more winners.
The Tapit/Distorted Humor bloodline cross
has produced two runners, one winner. Tapit’s
sire Pulpit had minor success with Distorted Humor mares, getting five foals,
two starters, both winners from the cross.
Constitution is a well-balanced colt,
athletic colt. He has a smooth,
efficient stride of average extension and doesn’t paddle. Constitution has the physique of a two-turn
route horse. The colt has an intelligent eye.
His shoulder is properly angled and his legs appear straight without
faults. His back is short and blends
into a strong hindquarter with a long hip.
In short, he looks like a $400K horse.
On paper, Constitution should handle 1 ¼ miles. Tapit’s offspring are generally noted for going
as far as 1 1/8 miles, but he does have three winners at 1 ¼ miles, so it isn’t
outside the realm of possibility.
Distorted Humor’s lack of classic distance winners as a broodmare sire
is more telling. None of his daughters babies have won at 1 ¼ miles or beyond,
but four have placed. Distorted Humor is
the sire of a Derby and Belmont Stakes winner, so he should be able to pass
those classic stamina genes to his daughters’ progeny.
Every year, there’s a lightly raced yet
talented sensationalist grabbing Kentucky Derby headlines. This year there are
two colts who fit the bill, Constitution and Social Inclusion. Constitution so far has done all that has been
asked of him. He received a good
schooling in the Florida Derby, setting in and taking some dirt in his face after
becoming rank early, and then going through a small opening on the rail to
tackle an experienced, battle tested opponent and prevailing. Will it be enough for the pinball style of
the Kentucky Derby?
Since the mid-1940’s, there have been 57 runners in the
Kentucky Derby who didn’t race as two year olds. In recent years, two colts, Horse of the Year
Curlin (2007) and Bodemeister (2012) were Derby buzz horses. Both colts
finished in the money and Bodemeister looked like a winner until a few jumps
from the wire (he was defeated only 1 ½ lengths).
Constitution has shown that he can win on the
lead or settle behind horses. He can go around horses and isn’t intimidated
going through small spaces on the rail. Once again, the “Apollo curse” comments
are dragged out and dusted off. Someday, it will be put to rest. Will
Constitution be the one to do it? Constitution
has the pedigree and running style to take a legitimate shot in the Kentucky
Derby, just like Curlin and Bodemeister did. It’s all about the trip.