Malibu Moon's star 3-year-old colt completed his Kentucky Derby (G1) preparations with a dominating victory in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Coming into Saturday, Malibu Moon was the nation's second leading sire, and following Saturday's results, will almost certainly be on top of the 2013 General Sire List, with more than $2.5 million in progeny earnings.
Taken in hand after breaking from the far outside in the field of 10 in the 1 1/8-mile contest, Orb settled in fifth, some four lengths off the lead, around the first turn. In no rush for the run down the backstretch, John Velazquez began to ask Orb for his run midway around the far turn. He caught Itsmyluckyday around the eighth-mile pole, then drew off in the last sixteenth to win by 2 3/4-lengths in 1:50.87.
Orb, who already had 50 qualifying points from his Grade 2 Fountain of Youth victory, earned 100 more for Florida Derby and will head to Churchill Downs as one of the favorites in the May 4 Kentucky Derby.
“I knew Johnny was going to try to have him closer just because there wasn’t that much speed in the race except Merit Man,” said winning trainer Shug McGaughey. “I thought the way he trained he could probably lay closer too. That’s why I was so pleased with his (Fountain of Youth) race last time. Even though we got a fast pace, sometimes you catch a fast pace here and you can’t catch up. And he does have a long run. It surprises me how long it is.”
Orb is a homebred owned by the partnership of Stuart Janney III and the Phipps Stable. He is out of the Unbridled mare Lady Liberty, who earned over $200,000 in her career. Orb is now 4-0-1 in seven starts, earning $921,050.