The FL Derby (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse GP- For Three Year Olds One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt March 28, 2020
While surprises are nice in any sport from time to time, sometimes it’s nice to see an expected showdown live up to its billing. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out that Anoush Command and Chai Morning would be the top two horses in the FL Derby, and that’s how it would pan out. However, not only did we correctly call that in the preview, with Anoush Command, we added in that Royal Assembly seemed like a safe bet to pick as the third place horse. Sure, the trifecta was not going out on a limb or anything, but did still pay $164.70, and that’s something. For Anoush Command, this assures that there will be no monkey on his back heading into the KYD. He was always going to be one of the favorites there, but prior to this win, had not won a stake. Now, he’ll have a big prep race win on his resume as well at CD next month. Chai Morning already had that. Royal Assembly’s third place figures to get him locked in as well. Fractious is the winning trainer for Anoush Command, getting an immediate dividend from his $950.000 investment. It is his first win in the stake, and the third time that jockey J R Velazquez has been aboard the winner. Congratulations to them! The winning race time was 1:48.12, a bit slower then recent winners, but was all that was needed. Let’s take a look!
(½ Mile- :46.53)- Starting from the outside, the Aer Stables-trained Chai Morning did not want to waste any time getting out to the front, and shot his way ahead just as they approached the opening turn. Winchester, from Maxmillion Farm, looked like he might be the early pace setter, but would actually drop into the third position, as the Nakamura Stables entry, Royal Assembly, slipped by to his inside. After these three, it was approximately another length to a group of three more. It was here that our eventual winner from Fractious, Anoush Command would run, holding the rail while being a little less then three lengths behind his primary rival in this race. Along the outside of Anoush Command were X Ray Spex (Estero Farms) and Fracas (Rampage Stable). Behind them, there was an approximate two length gap to other horses looking to make a name for themselves in the FL Derby as longshots. Le Pavoniere (Shermfirm Stables) was next, then With Ease (Team 7 Illusions) and Zafonic Way (The Freakshow). One more length to Grond (Mb Stables), and another to the rest of the field running three wide, Mortar (D J C Racing Stables), Starship Sweeper (TwinTowersRacing), and Romantic Boots (Drabfantasy).
(3/4 Mile- 1:10.12)- Down the backstretch, and beginning to enter the turn, there was not much going on as horses held their lines. For Chai Morning, this was great as he ran a reasonable pace on the front end with a length to his nearest pursuer, which was still Royal Assembly. That one was not applying any pressure to Chai Morning at this time. Winchester held his ground in the third spot, also not advancing. On the rail, things were looking pretty good for Anoush Command, with no apparent hindrances in front of him to make a move while rounding the turn if that was the plan. Our maiden friend, X Ray Spex, was still there, for now. Fracas ran in the middle of the field, and surprisingly none of the horses that were at the back at the field were showing any intentions of moving forward thus far.
(Top Of Stretch, 1.5F To Go)- Around the turn, Chai Morning still led the way, and S X Bridgmohan wisely closed up the rail on the exit of the turn. It had looked like there might have been some daylight there for Anoush Command, but not any longer. That was not really an issue for Anoush Command though, because all J R Velazquez had to do was slide him down a lane to prepare the pass, since Royal Assembly was polite to allow him that room. At the top of the stretch, Chai Morning had his work cut out for him, as he was still running well, but his two most expected challengers were making their move. Royal Assembly was advancing, and Anoush Command had plenty of time to make his move. Winchester was hanging around, not looking like he was going to make a winning move, but keeping them close enough to where if anyone began tire out, he could still have a shot. Behind them, well, this was a race where it looked like we’d have a few top horses and a bunch of hopefuls, and you could see that separation now. There was no move coming from any of those hopefuls from the back, as they were just not as good as the top horses at this point in their careers. This looked like a two, maybe three horse race, and that is what it was about to become.
(Finish- 1:48.12)- In the stretch, Chai Morning tried to hold on, but with a furlong to go, Anoush Command responded to the urging of J R Velazquez with a new jolt of speed, and that would carry him on by the leader. Once in front, there was no catching him, and finally, Anoush Command showed what we all knew was just a matter time in that he could win a race like this. Now, at last, Anoush Command has that signature win to validate him as one of the top contenders to run in the KYD next month. Chai Morning did well in his second place effort, and he should be one to watch next month as well. Running third and being able to run with those two here, so he probably can again next month, was Royal Assembly. Fourth place Winchester was really the only “hopeful” that impressed me in this race. Everyone else was an afterthought, but it is early in their three year old careers, and surely we’ll see some of these final names make their mark in bigger races to come. The remaining running order is Le Pavoniere, Grond, Starship Sweeper, Zafonic Way, Romantic Boots, X Ray Spex, Mortar, With Ease, and Fracas.
About The Winner- Anoush Command, trained by Fractious, and ridden to victory by J R Velazquez, is a three year old colt by Command Attention, and is out of Anoushka. He was bred in Ontario by Serenity Stables as a first quarter two year old, and acquired by Fractious last month in private sales for $950.000. This was his debut for Fractious. Congratulations to the connections! The win is his third in nine starts, and it is his first stake win of any sort. His career earnings are now $855.200.