Malibu Moon’s rising 3-year-old colt Orb stamped himself as a major contender on the Kentucky Derby trail Saturday by rolling past the previously unbeaten Violence in the stretch to win the $400,000 Fountain of Youth S. (G2) [VIDEO] at Gulfstream Park. The victory marked the third consecutive win for the late-running bay colt, and earned him 50 points to put Orb among the leaders in Kentucky Derby point standings.
Making his stakes debut under seasoned jockey John Velazquez, Orb saved ground early and settled in his usual spot towards the back of the pack as Majestic Hussar carved out a quick pace over a track that had catered to speed all day. Approaching the far turn, Orb began his rally with a sweeping four-wide move to reach contention behind a blistering six furlongs in 1:08.85.
Favorite Violence had taken the lead turning for home – but it was short lived. Orb swapped to his right lead on cue and rolled by the favorite in mid-stretch with a powerful turn of foot, proving best on the wire by a half-length. He completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:42.24, earning Orb a 97 Beyer for the performance.
“There was a lot of speed and I was actually able to get right where I wanted to be pretty early,” said Velazquez. “I was told the horse likes to be on the outside and by the time we got on the backside, I was able to switch him out and he was going along nice and smooth.”
Trained by Shug McGaughey, Orb is likely to be pointed for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on March 30 at Gulfstream, which would serve as his final prep before the Kentucky Derby.
“The strides he has made this winter are just absolutely incredible,” said McGaughey. “I was watching on the television so I couldn't see the fractions, but when they came into the picture I said to myself, 'If they slow down he's going to catch them.' Of course, Violence kept going a bit, but I still thought we had him.”
A homebred for Stuart Janney III and Phipps Stable out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, Orb gave his sire Malibu Moon his third graded stakes winner of 2013. His other graded stakes winners this year include Forward Gal (G2) winner Kauai Katie and La Canada S. (G2) winner More Chocolate.
In addition to Orb, the ever-consistent 4-year-old filly Moon Philly romped by 9 ¼-lengths in the $75,000 Maryland Media S. at Laurel Park. She had previously earned her first black type in the $75,000 Nellie Morse S. on Jan. 26, also at Laurel Park.
Malibu Moon is currently the leading sire in 2013 by North American earnings, and the No. 2 leading sire nationally.