“TDN Rising Star” El Areeb (Exchange Rate), a dominant winner of both the GIII Jerome S. Jan. 2 and GIII Withers S. Feb. 4 at Aqueduct, is being considered for a start in Gulfstream’s GI Florida Derby Apr. 1. Trainer Cathal Lynch isn’t ruling anything out, however, as he is also considering remaining in New York for the GII Wood Memorial S. or heading to Keeneland for the GII Blue Grass S., both of which are Apr. 8.
“The horse is doing great,” Lynch remarked. “We’re very, very pleased. He’s probably going to work Friday or Saturday. We’re looking to do a little something because he’s tearing the barn down. We’ve been going back and forth about the [GIII] Gotham [S. Mar. 4]; that’s still up in the air. I’m leaning toward waiting for the Wood or the Blue Grass or the Florida Derby, which was thrown into the mix the other day.
Lynch added, “[It’ll be] one of those three preps. We’ll give him a chance. He’s going to have to step up and prove that that’s where he belongs, but he’s doing everything right and we’re happy with him.”
The Florida Derby was put on the table due to timing and it’s rich history of producing successful runners in the Triple Crown races, such as 2013 GI Kentucky Derby hero Orb (Malibu Moon) and last term’s Derby winner Nyquist (Uncle Mo).
“We’ll look at where everyone else is settling down and where they’re all looking to go,” Lynch said. “With all the good horses you’re going to run into them at some point. The Florida Derby has been a great prep for the Derby. Nyquist came in from California last year and took that route and it proved very successful.”
He continued, “So many things go into play. We’ll finalize our plans but the horse will dictate everything. That’s always been our way. It’s the horse first; whatever’s best for the horse. We’re not taking anything for granted. We’re just keeping our options open right now. The owners [M M G Stables]and I will sit down when it gets closer to the time and make a final decision.”