Making his first appearance on the worktab since finishing a clear second in the GI Xpressbet Florida Derby Mar. 31, Juddmonte Farms’ Hofburg (Tapit) breezed a half-mile in :49.02 Sunday morning at Payson Park Training Center in Indiantown, Fla. for trainer Bill Mott.
“We gave him plenty of time to recover from [the Florida Derby] and we had been picking it up, picking it up,” Mott told the Gulfstream notes team. “Today was his first breeze and it sounded like it was good. It sounds like he went very well.”
The chestnut homebred was fourth in his debut last summer at Saratoga before being shelved for six months and returning with a promising maiden-breaking score despite a wide draw Mar. 3 in Hallandale. He took the overland route again in the Florida Derby while closing from near the back of the pack and couldn’t quite get to the impressive Audible (Into Mischief) while finishing 7 3/4 lengths clear of the remainder. Along with likely favorite Justify (Scat Daddy), Hofburg will be the least experienced runner in Louisville with only three starts to his name.
“I understand he’s short on seasoning in comparison to any horse who’s had six or eight starts, but it looks like a few of them are not as hardened or seasoned as they would have been in the ’70s or ’80s,” Mott said. “This horse was very professional down at Gulfstream Park, he’s done everything right, and he takes the dirt well, and that’s a good thing, particularly when you’re not a so-called speed horse. You have to be able to take the kickback and stay in the race, so he seems to be able to do that. He did it well at Gulfstream, which I know is probably half the size of the [Kentucky] Derby, but he still handled it well.”