General a Rod (left) fights off Wildcat Red to win the Gulfstream Park Derby.<br><a target="blank" href="!i=3000113139&k=vzzgNL6">Order This Photo</a>

General a Rod (left) fights off Wildcat Red to win the Gulfstream Park Derby.
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Coglianese Photos/Lauren King

General a Rod Slugs Out Gulfstream Derby Win

Roman Ruler colt prevails by a head in a battle to the wire with Wildcat Red Jan. 1.

Derby season got off to a promising start Jan. 1 when General a Rod  slugged it out to the wire with front-running Wildcat Red  to prevail by a head in the $100,000 Gulfstream Park Derby (VIDEO).

Jockey Joel Rosario notched his third straight win aboard the 3-year-old son of Roman Ruler and his fourth on the Gulfstream Park card. General a Rod, a $72,000 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky yearling sale purchase in October 2012, races for J. Armando Rodriguez and trainer Mike Maker. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Hare Forest Farm out of the winning Dynaformer mare Dynamite Eyes.

Sent off at odds of 7-2, General a Rod was timed in 1:35.84 in the Gulfstream Park Derby, a one-turn mile that was the colt's first stakes appearance and just his third start overall. The race serves as a warmup for the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) Jan. 25, the Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) Feb. 22, and the Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29, all at Gulfstream.

"He has always shown great promise," Maker said of the winner. "He's a big, immature colt, but since his last race he has made no mistakes. We were looking for a big effort today and we got it."

Maker said he is inclined to stay at Gulfstream for the Holy Bull, but will discuss it first with the colt's owner.

Breaking from the far outside in the field of nine, General a Rod was prominent throughout while chasing the pace duel that developed between Aarons Orient and Wildcat Red. Aarons Orient led Wildcat Red, who raced at the rail, by a head after an opening quarter-mile in :23.14 before the latter seized the advantage for Paco Lopez as they completed the half-mile in :45.91.

General a Rod, racing only a length off the leaders, engaged at the quarter pole, accomplishing six furlongs in 1:10.25, while continuing to race three-wide. Wildcat Red accepted the challenge and those two raced head-and-head through the drive. General a Rod won the head-bob in a hard-fought battle.

"When I got to the horse in front, he just kind of waited a little bit," Rosario said. "He didn't want to go by, but the other horse was running pretty good, too. I thought I had a little more left when I asked him, but he did the job. I think he's still learning now, so going forward he'll be even better."

It was 2 1/4 lengths back to third-place finisher East Hall, ridden by Juan Leyva. They finished 1 1/4 lengths in front of Pablo Del Monte, the 5-2 favorite ridden by Kent Desormeaux.

General a Rod followed a debut victory at seven furlongs on Polytrack at Keeneland Oct. 18 with a runner-up finish to Conquest Titan in a one-mile allowance/optional claimer Nov. 30 at Churchill Downs. He earned $60,000 for his latest victory, boosting his total to $102,000.

"He ran great last time," Maker said. "He was just second best. The winner was coming out of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) and was a bit more experienced."

General a Rod carried 117 pounds and paid $9.60, $5.20, and $3.60. Wildcat Red, also sent off at 7-2 odds, returned $5.20 and $4.20. The exacta was worth $55.80. East Hall paid $8.60.

Pablo Del Monte was followed by Aarons Orient, Enthrone, Gone as Wind, Grand Arrival, and Best Plan Yet.

General a Rod originally sold for $100,000 at the Fasig-Tipton summer yearling sale through consignor Eatons Sales to Jackman Bloodstock. Dapple Stud consigned him at the October yearling sale. He is the second starter and winner produced by his dam, and her first black-type winner.

Dynamite Eyes was a $180,000 Keeneland November breeding stock purchase in 2008 from the Sam-Son Farm consignment through Anderson Farms, agent. Her unnamed Speightstown  colt sold for $120,000 at last September's Keeneland yearling sale. Her most recent foal, a colt by Awesome Again , was born March 17, 2013.