A record-setting allowance victory by Social Inclusion at Gulfstream Park March 12 has owner Ron Sanchez excited about putting the unbeaten Pioneerof the Nile colt on a path for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I).
Sanchez said March 13 that he and trainer Manny Azpurua are considering both the Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29 at Gulfstream and the Wood Memorial (gr. I) at Aqueduct Racetrack April 5 for a next start. Both races carry 100 qualifying points to the winner for the May 3 Derby.
"Our original goal was the Preakness (gr. I), but now we are thinking about the Derby," said Sanchez, who owns Rontos Racing Stable. "The main goal is the Wood Memorial, but we may want to not travel and stay here for the Florida Derby. We'll know soon about everything, maybe in just a couple days."
Under a hand ride from jockey Luis Contreras, Social Inclusion romped by 10 lengths over Remsen Stakes (gr. II) winner Honor Code in 1:40.97 for 1 1/16 miles, bettering the track record of 1:41 set by Devil's Cave less than a month earlier.
Both Sanchez and Azpurua were impressed with how Social Inclusion emerged from Thursday's race. it was just his second start following a 7 1/2-length maiden special weight tally going six furlongs at Gulfstream in 1:09.35 Feb. 22.
"He's full of energy and he's very proud," Sanchez said. "He's nice and calm. He came back very happy and didn't feel tired at all. That's good, because he ran a hell of a race and set a new track record, and you expect a horse to be a little tired. But, he was nothing like that. He's special. He can handle whatever comes to him. He's just a special horse."
Three-year-old Social Inclusion is by the same sire as multiple grade II winner Cairo Prince , the likely favorite for the $1 million Florida Derby, and Sam F. Davis (gr. III) winner Vinceremos.
Bred in Kentucky by Robert Tillyer, Martin Keogh, and Dr. Chet Blackey out of the graded stakes-place Saint Ballado mare Saint Bernadette, Social Inclusion was purchased by Sanchez for $60,000 out of the 2012 Keeneland September yearling sale.
Sanchez brought Social Inclusion to Ocala as a yearling and initially sent him to trainer Jeff Bonde at Santa Anita Park before returning the bay colt to South Florida with fellow Venezuelan Azpurua.
"He was training extremely good, but he was still a little immature and we wanted to give him time because he's a May foal," Sanchez said. "We wanted to take our time because if you give a horse the time, it will pay off and now it is paying off. We brought him back to Florida because this is the 'Championship Meet' and if you think you've got a good horse, you've got to try with the best ones."
Sanchez said its possible he could sell a significant portion of Social Inclusion. He had several visitors inquiring at Azpurua's barn on Thursday morning.
"I've had maybe eight or 10 offers. We're going to sit down and analyze everything and do what's best for the horse," Sanchez said. "I know this is a business, but we're going to make a decision that is going to be the best one for the horse. We're going to take our time and see what happens. If I sell, it has to be for big money. I want to keep a piece of the horse, because this is the horse of a lifetime. It's a dream for every horseman."