With an effort that should propel him to a major 2020 Kentucky Derby prep, Gouverneur Morris scored on return Friday at Tampa Bay Downs, with his winning time just two-hundredths off the track's 1-mile, 40-yard track record.
Gouverneur Morris will be next to get his chance after responding to Velazquez through the far turn. He looked to be spinning his wheels initially but began gobbling up ground off the turn, making it a race with Untitled.
It would have been safe to suggest Untitled reached a distance limitation given he exited the Swale Stakes (G3), a sprint at Gulfstream Park. Then the final time of 1:38.88 flashed up. Gouverneur Morris ran fast -- nearly as fast as Jackson's track record 1:38.86 on May 4, 2019.
“He’s kind of a quirky horse," said Team Valor International's Barry Irwin, who co-owns the colt with WinStar Farm. "In the morning, he’ll get halfway down the stretch and kind of lose interest or something, then he’ll just refocus and take off. That’s kind of what he did today on the turn. It looked like he was floundering for a second, then when Johnny got after him he put (Untitled) away."
Gouverneur Morris is clearly catching up quickly. Untitled was 1 1/4 lengths back at the wire. Letmeno and Sounion rounded out the finishing order after the fifth entrant in the race, Dudley Square, lost his rider at the start.
“I had to change my strategy (when Dudley Square lost his jockey), because I was expecting that horse to be on the lead,” Velazquez said. “But it worked out anyway. He finished real nice. This was a real tough race to come off the bench, but you have to start somewhere.”