Rosario Rides General a Rod in Florida Derby

Rosario Rides General a Rod in Florida Derby
Photo: Coglianese Photos/Lauren King
General a Rod won the 2014 Gulfstream Park Derby.
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Joel Rosario, who rode General a Rod to a victory in the Gulfstream Park Derby Jan. 1, will be back aboard the Roman Ruler   colt in his next start.

Trainer Mike Maker confirmed March 13 that Rosario will ride General a Rod in the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), Gulfstream's signature race on March 29.

Rosario is third with $2,265,054 in purse earnings and fourth with 46 wins from 309 mounts at the current Gulfstream meet, including a victory aboard Lea in the Donn Handicap (gr. I) Feb. 9. In addition to Rosario, General a Rod has been ridden by Rosie Napravnik, Robby Albarado, and Javier Castellano.

"He's not a complicated horse to ride and Joel has won on him before, so we're happy to have him," Maker said. "We've had a lot of success together in the past, and I hope it continues. He's a top-class rider, and I'm glad we've got him."

Castellano rode General a Rod to a runner-up finish behind Wildcat Red by a head in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II) Feb. 22. Castellano is the regular rider of both Constitution, the Todd Pletcher-trained colt who is headed to the Florida Derby, as well as Honor Code.

Maker said General a Rod will breeze again the morning of March 15 at Gulfstream with regular exercise rider Joel Barrientos aboard. Owned by J. Armando Rodriguez, General a Rod has won two of four starts with two seconds and has banked $182,200.

"The horse is doing great, and he looks fabulous," Maker said.

In other Florida Derby news, upset Swale Stakes (gr. II) winner Spot posted a half-mile move in :47.75 the morning of March 13 at Palm Meadows and remains a possible candidate for the upcoming test.

"He actually went a little too fast for me," trainer Nick Zito said. "But he did it on his own, and he worked with Grand Arrival, who at one time was a horse with a lot of potential. The horse is doing great."

Zito said he plans to speak to owner Joseph Moss and a decision on the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby will be made "after his next work, which will be on March 22."

The son of Pulpit began his racing career for breeder Curtis Green, but was purchased privately by Moss following a fifth-place finish behind Wildcat Red in the Hutcheson Stakes (gr. III) and turned over to Zito.

Sent off at 9-1 in the March 1 Swale, the uniquely marked gelding reeled in odds-on No Nay Never in that seven-furlong test en route to a 2 1/2-length win. Zito has saddled a trio of Florida Derby winners in Dialed In   (2011), Ice Box   (2010) and High Fly (2005).

"The Florida Derby is going to be a tough race, no question about it," Zito said. "You've got the Holy Bull (gr. II) winner (Cairo Prince  ), the Fountain of Youth winner, and the Pletcher gangthose are real horses. One thing about us is that we never say never. If he continues training well, then it's a possibility he'll be in the entries."
 

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