Nokoma Wins Gulfstream Allowance, Florida Derby Next

Michael Tabor's Nokoma waited behind a wall of horses on the second turn, then utilized an opening along the rail to rally to a three-quarter length win in an allowance race at Gulfstream Park Saturday. Under John Velazquez, the son of Pulpit completed the one mile and 70 yards in 1:42.55 on a good track.

He showed a lot of determination in his win, and that is what you like to see in a horse," trainer Todd Pletcher said Sunday morning. "He came back in good shape this morning and our plans are to run him in the Florida Derby. That is what we came down here for."

Nokoma raced in fifth through most of the race, was steadied briefly on the second turn, then went through a gap provided by Doc Wild when that rival edged away from the rail in upper stretch. Nokoma then edged to the front as Puck and Monthir battled outside of Doc Wild. Puck and Doc Wild crossed the wire on even terms in second, with Monthir a head back in fourth. Inaugural Address subbed for scratched stablemate Straight Gin and finished fifth, 5 1/2 lengths behind Monthir. Tis Magical and Class of Seventy completed the order of finish.

The win marks the second in five starts for the $125,000 yearling purchase. The colt dropped from two starts in stakes company to the allowance ranks to pick up the win. He finished a game second to Saarland in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen Stakes (gr. II) to complete his juvenile season, then finished a well-beaten fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. III) in his sophomore debut. Nokoma is out of the Icecapade mare Eliza Blue and was bred by John R. Gaines Thoroughbreds and William Condren. (Chart, Equibase)