Constitution rides the rail to victory in Florida Derby

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One wouldn’t suspect the lightly-raced and undefeated Constitution had never raced in a stakes race when he powered up the rail to take the $1,000,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. The win brings his career wins to three and earnings to $649,350. He’ll likely make his next start in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby May 3.

After Constitution’s win, owners Winstar Farm and Twin Creek Racing Stables have their second candidate for Kentucky Derby 140. Constitution picked up 100 points in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points system, which puts him in third place on the leaderboard for Kentucky Derby entries. The ownership group also has Vinceremos, runner-up in the Tampa Bay Derby, on the board at number 18. Both colts are trained by Todd Pletcher.

“I’m very, very proud of him,” said Pletcher. “It’s a testament to the quality of horse he is – to go from a maiden to an allowance to a Grade 1 and to show a different running style and get some dirt in his face and put in an effort like that against much more seasoned horses.”

As expected, trainer Jose Garoffalo’s Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Wildcat Red broke from the rail and took the early lead. General A Rod, who was a head behind him in the Fountain of Youth and a head in front to win the Gulfstream Park Derby, soon joined the leader. Constitution and Holy Bull (G2) winner Cairo Prince stalked the pair while the other four runners in the field jockeyed for position behind them. It appeared it would be another battle between Wildcat Red and General A Rod, but Constitution started to move on the pacemakers from the rail as the field turned for home. Into the stretch, Wildcat Red was determined to make Constitution earn the win, fighting him off before giving way just yards away from the wire. Constitution finished a neck in front of Wildcat Red, with General A Rod 1 ¼ lengths further back. Cairo Prince was another 2 ¼ lengths behind in fourth.

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