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Cerro, Orb Score at Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park
Photo: MEC

The Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 23 will be the final prep for the Florida Derby. That race might be an option for a pair of late-developing colts that captured entry-level allowance races on Saturday’s program at Gulfstream.

Cerro posted a gate-to-wire victory in the third race, leading his trainer to starting thinking about putting the 3-year-old son of Mr. Greely on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

“That was a legitimate race, so I guess, obviously, you’ve got to start thinking about 3-year-olds on the dirt,” said Graham Motion, whose 2011 Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, started his 3-year-old campaign at Gulfstream.

Whereas Animal Kingdom ran on turf at Gulfstream in 2011, Cerro won his race by 2 ½ lengths over Gulfstream’s main track, completing 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.29 under jockey Javier Castellano.

Like Animal Kingdom, who is slated to make his 2013 debut in the Gulfstream Park Turf (G1) on Feb. 9, Cerro is owned by Barry Irwin’s Team Valor International, which includes Olympic legend Michael Phelps.

Cerro broke his maiden at first asking on turf in Italy last June before joining Motion’s stable. After finishing fifth and fourth on turf, the Irish-bred colt finished third in an allowance race in his first start on dirt at Gulfstream on Jan. 1.

“I feel like every time he has run it’s been a process of getting him fit. I’ve kind of given him an excuse each time he’s run,” Motion said. “I think he’s on the improve.”

Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey saddled Orb for a solid score in the fifth, despite having to be checked in traffic at the back of the field on the first turn.
“He’s not fast, so that’s going to happen sometimes. (Joel Rosario) was trying to keep him down in there. I’m glad, because that way he got a little schooling,” McGaughey said.

Rosario took the son of Malibu Moon to the outside on the backstretch, where they made steady progress to reach contention on the far turn. Orb swept to the lead leaving the turn into the homestretch. Pacesetter Duke of the City fought back in the stretch but fell short by a length under Paco Lopez.

”I think there’s a lot left there,” McGaughey said.

Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable’s homebred colt obviously appreciated the longer distance of Saturday’s race.

“It was the first time I was able to get him stretched out around two turns. When I brought him down here this winter, I said ‘He might be a nice horse when we get him back to Aqueduct this spring,’” said McGaughey, who has been impressed with Orb’s development. “I’m very pleased today.”

Orb broke his maiden in his fourth lifetime start at Aqueduct on Nov. 24.

“I’ve had trouble with him at the gate. The first two times I ran him he was terrible in the gate.  He came up against some good horses, too, like Violence,” said McGaughey, who said he didn’t know where Orb would next race.



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