Gouverneur Morris Gets the Job Done in Seasonal Debut

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Gouverneur Morris | Sarah Andrew

6th-Tampa Bay Downs, $20,000, Alw (NW1X)/Opt. Clm ($75,000), 2-14, 3yo, 1m 40y, 1:38.88, ft.
GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (c, 3, Constitution–Addison Run {SP}, by Unbridled’s Song) had to overcome a few tense moments, but ultimately kicked off his sophomore season successfully Friday afternoon at Tampa. A nine-length debut winner sprinting in the Saratoga slop Sept. 2, the grey was second as the favorite behind a dominant performance from Maxfield (Street Sense) and ahead of last month’s GIII Lecomte S. winner Enforceable (Tapit). His connections opted to skip a trip to the Breeders’ Cup last fall to instead focus on this year’s Classics, and Gouverneur Morris was pounded down to 1-2 here favoritism despite finding a particularly strong group of foes for a Tampa allowance. Away well as his stablemate Dudley Square (Into Mischief) dropped pilot Daniel Centeno leaving the gate, Gouverneur Morris settled into a stalking spot out in the clear as Untitled (Khozan), a big-figure debut winner who was fourth in the GIII Swale S. Feb. 1 after a private purchase, made the running. The favorite seemed to be requiring a lot of encouragement from John Velazquez to keep up with Untitled after a :47.50 half, but he finally built up a head of steam at the top of the stretch and ultimately wore down his rival to prevail by 1 1/4 lengths in near track record time.

“I had to change my strategy [when Dudley Square lost his jockey], because I was expecting that horse to be on the lead,” Velazquez said. “But it worked out anyway. He finished real nice. This was a real tough race to come off the bench, but you have to start somewhere.”

Team Valor’s Barry Irwin added, “Johnny told me that the plan was for [Dudley Square] to set the pace, but when that horse lost his jockey, [Gouverneur Morris] had to go up and do the dirty work on the turn,” Irwin said. “He’s kind of a quirky horse. In the morning, he’ll get halfway down the stretch and kind of lose interest or something, then he’ll just refocus and take off… That’s kind of what he did today on the turn. It looked like he was floundering for a second, then when Johnny got after him he put [Untitled] away… Each of his last three workouts, he has improved so much.”

The winner, who was a $360,000 KEENOV ’16 in utero purchase and who brought $600,000 at Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream last year after a :10 1/5 breeze, is half to Final Jeopardy (Street Sense), MGSP, $219,833; a 2-year-old colt by Runhappy and a yearling filly by Into Mischief. His third dam is MGSW Fleet Lady (Avenue of Flags), who produced 2008 champion 2-year-old colt and sire Midshipman (Unbridled’s Song) as well as GSW Fast Cookie (Deputy), the dam of brilliant MGISW and young sire Frosted (Tapit). Trainer Todd Pletcher has used an easier Tampa Bay Downs start as a launchpad to Triple Crown trail success several times in recent memory, with the likes of 2017 GI Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming (Bodemeister); 2016 GI Wood Memorial S. winner Outwork (Uncle Mo); and 2018 GII Wood Memorial S. hero Vino Rosso (Curlin), last year’s GI Breeders’ Cup Classic romper and champion older male. Sales history: $200,000 Ylg ’18 KEESEP; $600,000 2yo ’19 FTFMAR. Lifetime Record: GISP, 3-2-1-0, $161,500. Click for the Equibase.com chart or VIDEO, sponsored by Fasig-Tipton.
O-Team Valor International & WinStar Farm LLC; B-Machmer Hall, Carrie Brogden, Craig Brogden & James F. Miller (KY); T-Todd A. Pletcher.

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