The highlight of the Gulfstream Park meeting is the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), a major prep for the Kentucky Derby, for 3-year-olds going 1 1/8 miles on the main track. Dunkirk, making his first start in stakes company after winning his first two starts by open lengths, was sent off as the 11-10 favorite in the compact field of seven over 6-5 second choice Quality Road, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes last time out, the major local prep for this race. 7-2 Theregoesjojo, second in the Fountain of Youth, was the third choice on the board.
Casey's On Call went to the lead immediately under jockey E.T. Baird, setting fractions of 23.49 and 46.83 while being stalked by Quality Road and Theregoesjojo. Dunkirk was unhurried early under Garrett Gomez, sitting back in 6th out wide to avoid traffic. Quality Road passed the tiring Casey's On Call on the far turn, getting 3/4 in 1:10.66, as Dunkirk moved up to challenge. At the top of the stretch, Dunkirk got within a length of the leader but Quality Road fought him off through the final furlong to prevail by 1 3/4 length at the line, getting the 9 furlong trip in a new track record time of 1:47.72. It was a long 6 lengths back to Theregoesjojo third. Kent Desormeaux aboard Theresgoesjojo claimed foul against John Velazquez on Quality Road for interference at the 1/4 pole but the claim was disallowed by the stewards.
Thanks to Amber Chalfin for the photos!