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2007 Florida Derby Day

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Safari Queen wins the 2007 Orchid Handicap
Safari Queen wins the 2007 Orchid Handicap

Safari Queen wins the 2007 Orchid Handicap at Gulfsteam Park

© Amber Chalfin
Trainer Todd Pletcher was half a world away in Dubai when the Gulfstream stakes races began Saturday afternoon, but his powerful stable came out strong with Arindel Farm's 5-year-old mare Safari Queen and Allen Paulson Living Trust's Almonsoon posting a one-two finish in the $150,000 Orchid Handicap (G3), the first of five stakes on the Florida Derby Day program.

Jockey Chris DeCarlo had Safari Queen rating comfortably in third down the backstretch of the mile-and-a-half turf marathon for fillies and mares, swinging out to take command at the top of the stretch, and going to score by 1 1/2 lengths as the 6-5 favorite in the field of seven. Almonsoon finished another length ahead of Gary Zwerling's La Dolce Vita in third.

An Argentine-bred daughter of Lode, Safari Queen had won 12-furlong stakes at Aqueduct and Calder late last year and was coming off a good runner-up effort in the 11-furlong The Very One Handicap (G3) over the course on Feb. 25. Her winning time in the Orchid was 2:25:17 over firm going.

Winning rider Chris DeCarlo said, "When they learn how to relax (going a mile-and-a-half) you can bide your time. She broke sharp and I was able to sit behind the leaders. I angled out at the top of the stretch, and I knew she was ready to take off when I asked her to."

Todd Pletcher's assistant Anthony Sciametta said, "Todd had her well prepared for this race. She was training awfully good going into it. It looks like he has got this filly right, right now. You can see it in her last three races. We were expecting a big effort and we got it."

Results chart from Equibase

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