by Teresa Genaro
On a weekend that saw New York-breds flourish both in the United States and abroad, Audible announced himself as one to be reckoned with when he won the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) by three lengths, earning himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Having not made his stakes debut until early last in February, Audible is now undefeated in two graded stakes tries and may well head to Louisville, Kentucky, as one of the favorites.
As Strike Power and Promises Fulfilled set crazy early fractions, opening up a Presious Passion-like lead on their seven rivals, jockey John Velazquez kept Audible well back, guiding him first inside from post position eight, then taking position outside and in the clear. As the leaders inevitably came back, Velazquez gave the chestnut colt a sign that it was time to go, and go he went, circling the field and drawing off to win with ease.
“The only thing that concerned me was when he got to the backstretch, he started backing up a little bit,” Velazquez said. “I thought I was overdoing it, so I had to give him a little chance to regroup again, and once he got his stride back together and moving again on the backstretch, I was very happy with the way he was doing it.”
“I was a little concerned at the five-eighths pole because he started to drop back a little bit,” trainer Todd Pletcher concurred, “but I could tell Johnny wasn’t panicked. He kind of grabbed him up and sometime midway down the backstretch, he started to pick up horses and I started to feel better and better.”
Feeling good at the end of a Florida Derby is hardly a new experience for the trainer-jockey duo: for each, this was his fifth Florida Derby win.
Audible was purchased at the Fasig-Tipton sale of preferred New York-breds in 2016 as a yearling, then pinhooked for $500,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton sale of two-year-olds in training in March. China Horse Club and WinStar Farm partnered on the purchase; Head of Plains Partners and Starlight Racing have since bought interests in the son of Into Mischief.
Audible is out of the Gilded Time mare Blue Devil Bel, and he was bred by Oak Bluffs Stable.
The win brings Audible’s earnings to $882,920, and his record to 5-4-0-1. He’s got 110 Derby points, which puts him in on top of the Leaderboard in first place. He went off as the 8-5 favorite in the Florida Derby.
A maiden winner making just his third start, Hofburg finished second, earning 40 points, likely enough to make the Derby starting gate, which trainer Bill Mott said is under consideration. Third-place finisher Mississippi earned 20 points, almost certainly not enough for him to qualify.
After winning the Kentucky Derby in 2010 with Super Saver and last year with Always Dreaming – who finished second on the Florida Derby undercard in his first race since last year’s Travers (G1) – Pletcher will try to score his third Run for the Roses, as will Velazquez, who proved victorious aboard Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Always Dreaming last year.
And Audible will try to become only the second New York-bred horse to wear the roses at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May. Funny Cide did it in 2003, at a time when no one was paying half a million for a New York-bred horse. The profile and the value of New York-breds have changed a lot since then, and a Kentucky Derby win by Audible may well boost that status even more.