Photo: Gulfstream Park Photo
Trainer Jose Garoffalo reported Sunday morning that Wildcat Red exited his 10 ¼-length romp in Saturday’s $90,000 Quality Road Stakes at Gulfstream Park in good order.
“He came out of it excellent. He ate up everything,” Garoffalo said. “He’s happy this morning. Everybody’s happy.”
There certainly was reason for good cheer in the Wildcat Red camp after the 3-year-old Florida-bred colt rebounded from a troubled 18th-place finish in the Kentucky Derby on May 3 in such an impressive fashion in the stakes for 3-year-olds.
Jockey Luis Saez sent Wildcat Red to the lead at the start, but the son of D’wildcat soon met a three-pronged challenge to his outside from longshots Purchango, Notyouraveragejoe and Best Plan Yet entering the backstretch. After a 22.85-second first quarter and a half-mile in 45.91 seconds, the 3-10 favorite gave them the slip and rolled to victory under a hand ride, completing 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.70.
“I’m very happy because the horse gets his confidence back,” Garoffalo said. “He came back good out of the Derby, which was my main concern. The way he’s been training and the way he ran (Saturday), the Derby wasn’t a problem for him. Now, we can look forward to the rest of the year.”
Garoffalo is targeting the $1 million Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park on July 27 as Wildcat Red’s next start.
“The rider told me (Saturday) that the horse felt better than ever,” he said. “He’s got more power; he’s bigger; he’s stronger; he’s more muscular.”
Saturday’s victory was Wildcat Red’s third stakes triumph at Gulfstream, where he has been no worse than second in eight appearances. The Honors Stable Corp.’s colt captured the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) and the Hutcheson (G3) during Gulfstream’s Champions Meet. He prepped for the Kentucky Derby, in which he was knocked out of the race early by a bumping incident and heavy traffic, with a close second-place finish behind Constitution in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1) on March 29.