Wildcat Red (right) finished 2nd in the Gulfstream Park Derby.<br><a target="blank" href="http://photos.bloodhorse.com/AtTheRaces-1/At-the-Races-2014/35724761_2vdnSX#!i=3000112535&k=t2rB5KC">Order This Photo</a>

Wildcat Red (right) finished 2nd in the Gulfstream Park Derby.
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Coglianese Photos/Kenny Martin

Wildcat Red Set to Run Next in Holy Bull

Gulfstream Park Derby runner-up came out of New Year's Day race well, says trainer.

Off his hard-fought runner-up finish in the Gulfstream Park Derby on New Year's Day, Florida-bred Wildcat Red  earned his way into the mix for the track's key races for 3-year-olds.

Trainer Jose Garaffalo said Jan. 2 he is pointing the D'wildcat colt to the $400,000 Holy Bull (gr. III) Jan. 25, with an eye on the $400,000 Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (gr. II) Feb. 22. Both races are run at 1 1/16 miles.

"We have plans to run in the Holy Bull; that will be the next step," Garaffalo said. "Depending on the Holy Bull, we will go in the Fountain of Youth. Who knows if we will go in the Florida Derby. It's still too early to tell, but right now we have expectations. We'll see what happens. I think he'll be ready for the next one."

The $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (gr. I), at 1 1/8 miles, will be run March 29.

Breaking from the rail under jockey Paco Lopez in the Gulfstream Park Derby, Wildcat Red battled for the lead with Aarons Orient for a  half mile before taking over the top spot. He was passed by eventual winner General a Rod  after six furlongs, came back to take a short lead turning for home, and fought all the way to the wire before losing a head bob following a mile in 1:35.84.

"He came back in very good shape, thank God," Garaffalo said. "He ran a hell of a race. The best case scenario would be to win, but I'm OK. We're happy with the race. He did his job. Considering he was off for two months, the post position and all the speed of the race, he did a great job.

"Surprisingly, he came back full of himself, very happy. He deserved to win because he did all the work, but he proved that he has the class and that he can go longer, which is what I want to do with him. I want to run him longer and see if he can go two turns."

Wildcat Red, owned by Honors Stable Corp., has two wins and two seconds from four starts, all at Gulfstream. The bay colt began his career with an eight-length triumph over maidens going 6 1/2 furlongs Sept. 14, and bounced out of that with a 1 1/2-length score in a first-level allowance at six furlongs a month later.

He also crossed the wire first in his next start, the Gulfstream Juvenile Sprint for Florida-breds Nov. 9, but was disqualified from that victory at 6 1/2 furlongs for bearing out late. Wildcat Red has earned $100,850 in his brief career.

Garaffalo believes Wildcat Red will stretch out despite being by D'wildcat, a multiple graded stakes-winning sprinter whose victories included the 2002 DeFrancis Dash (gr. I). Bred by Moreau Bloodstock International and Winter Racing Enterprise, Wildcat Red is out of the graded stakes-placed Miner's Mark mare Racene.

"Now he proved that he can do better than he did before, especially the distance. In a good pace, in a slower pace, he can go longer. He fought the whole time, he never quit," Garaffalo said. "The most important thing is that the horse came back in good shape. There are plenty of races ahead of him and if he's sound, he will go far. You have to have the horse."