Collaborate Earns Florida Derby Shot

Collaborate | Coglianese

Three Chimneys Farm and e Five Racing's Collaborate (Into Mischief), tabbed a 'TDN Rising Star' following his impressive maiden score at Gulfstream Park Saturday, has put himself on track for the Mar. 27 GI Curlin Florida Derby, trainer Saffie Joseph confirmed Sunday.

“The Florida Derby is at home and he just has to walk out of his stall,” Joseph said. “I talked to the owners briefly yesterday and it will probably be between the Florida Derby, the [GII] Wood [at Aqueduct Apr. 3] or the [GII Toyota] Blue Grass [at Keeneland Apr. 3], but the Florida Derby will be the front-runner. Off [Saturday's] race, we're probably going to take a chance somewhere. We feel like he's a Derby horse. I know we're a little behind schedule, but with the ability he has, he can probably overcome it.”

Collaborate was sixth as the beaten favorite in his troubled six-furlong debut in Hallandale Feb. 6. Going one mile Saturday, the colt broke sharply and set a measured pace under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, going in splits of :23.72 seconds, :46.57 and 1:11.12 before beginning to edge away from his 10 rivals. He hit the stretch six lengths in front and kept rolling to win by 12 1/2 and completing the mile in 1:36.35 over a fast main track (video).

“We weren't surprised. That's hard to say with a horse winning like that, but that's the horse we thought he was,” Joseph said.  “The first time out, we got him beat. It hurt to get him beat first time out, because we thought he was that good, but you always have to look at the positive in each scenario and the first time I thought he gained valuable experience.”

While Collaborate has joined the Triple Crown trail, stablemate Drain the Clock (Maclean's Music) will cut back in distance following his runner-up effort in Saturday's GII Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth S.

“Talking to the owners briefly after the race, initially I think we're going to step back and keep him at one turn. We tried it and I think he handled the mile and a sixteenth, but I don't think we're going to try to push it,” Joseph said. “I think we have a really good horse. I feel like we have a Grade I horse and he's probably going to be best at one turn, so most likely we're going to stick to one turn.”

Trainer Butch Reid reported last year's champion juvenile filly Vequist (Nyquist) was doing well following her ninth-place effort in Saturday's GII Davona Dale S.

“We did scope her after the race and she was a little dirty,” Reid said. “She had some mucus in there and stuff that we can work with, and I think it definitely affected her performance a little bit. But, soundness-wise, she's great and is happy.”

Vequist got bumped at the start of the Davona Dale and was in range of the leaders racing in mid-pack, but never threatened and was eased to the finish by jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr.

“I'm glad Irad took care of her the last part of it when she was hopelessly beaten, so she came back great,” Reid said. “Irad did a great job. He saw that she wasn't really getting there. He gave her a little eighth of a mile to run, but I know she's better than that. We're going to keep looking at her and keep working her and fall back and regroup a little bit, that's all.”

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