Cool Gator Posts Florida Derby Tune-Up

Cool Gator Posts Florida Derby Tune-Up
Photo: Anne M. Eberhardt/Blood-Horse Publications
(From Gulfstream Park)

Despite a "muddy" track at Gulfstream Park, Garland Williamson's Cool Gator and jockey Eddie Castro got to know each other the morning of March 24 with a five-furlong breeze, the final workout for the 3-year-old son of Macho Uno   before the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29.

Cool Gator worked in 1:06 3/5 around "dogs" over a track still drying from a wet weekend. Only one other workout was recorded at Gulfstream Monday morning.

“The jock said he handled it very well even though they were so wide trying to find the best place on the track to get a hold of,” said trainer Danny Vella.The main thing was so Eddie could get used to the horse and give the horse a chance to open his lungs up.”

Vella left Cool Gator in the care of Joe Orseno, a longtime colleague and trainer of the colt's sire, Eclipse champion 2-year-old of 2000 for Stronach Stable. After placing in two major races in Canada last fall, Vella's plan has been to test the Ontario-bred this winter at Gulfstream to see if he had a prospect for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) and the Queen's Plate.

A second-place effort behind probable Florida Derby rival Nistle's Crunch in a 1 1/8 miles allowance race at Gulfstream March 1 was the first step. Four weeks of training and a try in the Florida Derby will be the next step.

“He's ready,” said Vella. “He's had several strong gallops the last couple weeks. He's a fit horse.”

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