Vicar's In Trouble and promising star Constitution punched their Kentucky Derby tickets with weekend victories in Louisiana and Florida.
Vicar's In Trouble, the second likely Derby contender owned by Ken and Sarah Ramsey, won Saturday's $1 million, Grade I Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. Constitution, trained by multiple Derby contender Todd Pletcher
, took the $1 million, Grade I Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Vicar's In Trouble, a Louisiana-bred son of Into Mischief, contested the early lead under jockey Rosie Napravnik, took over when asked and won by 3 1/2 lengths over the favorite, Intense Holiday. Commanding Curve finished third as the 1 1/8 miles went in 1:50.77 over a fast track. The colt now has three wins and two thirds from five lifetime starts. Intense Holiday came into Saturday's race off a win in the Grade II Risen Star, in which Vicar's In Trouble finished third.
The Ramseys also own We Miss Artie, who earned his way into the Run for the Roses with a victory in last weekend's Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park
"You know he's a tiny horse," Napravnik said. "But he's got a great big heart."
Constitution was all-out to win at Gulfstream. Wildcat Red got the early lead as jockey Javier Castellano
struggled to keep Constitution under control as he stalked the pace. Constitution came to challenge for the lead heading into the stretch, secured the inside position and that pair dueled to the wire, with Constitution prevailing by a neck. General a Rod had every chance but weakened in the stretch and finished third. Cairo Prince, idled since winning the Grade II Holy Bull in Janaury, finished fourth. Constitution ran 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:49.16.
Constitution now has won all three of his career starts, all at Gulfstream. However, he did not race as a 2-year-old. No horse has won the Kentucky Derby without racing at age 2 since Apollo in 1882. "I'm very, very proud of him," Pletcher said. "It's a testament to the quality of horse he is, to go from a maiden to an allowance to a Grade I and to show a different running style and get some dirt in his face and put in an effort like that against much more seasoned horses."
All of the top four finishers in the Florida Derby could return in Louisville.
In Tune got the job done as the favorite in Saturday's $300,000, Grade II Gulfstream Oaks at Gulfstream Park but she didn't have much to spare. After stalking the pace set by Whomping Willow, the Unbridled's Song filly took a short lead in the stretch, then was all out to hang on, winning by a neck over House Rules. It was another 3 3/4 lengths back to America in third.
In Tune, with Javier Castellano up, covered 1 1/8 miles on a fast track in 1:50.19. She now has three wins from three starts, all at Gulfstream Park. It was her first stakes race. "It's rare that you have one come along this quickly, said Pletcher, who also trains In Tune. "She stepped up in class and distance each time and passed every test. So I'm very proud of her."
Untapable confirmed her status as one of the favorites for the Kentucky Oaks with a runaway victory in Saturday's $400,000, Grade II Fair Grounds Oaks. With Rosie Napravnik aboard, the Tapit filly tracked the pace set by Fiftyshadesofgold, easily went by that rival when asked and won off by 7 3/4 lengths. Fiftyshadesofgold held second and Unbridled Forever finished third.
Untapable ran 1 1/16 miles on a fast track in 1:43.09. She now has four win from six career starts. The victories include two over the Churchill Downs strip and one of those was the Grade II Pocahontas Stakes last fall. "She had a ton left today," Napravnik said after the race. "We'll see you all in Kentucky." Mike Smith, who rode the runner-up, added of Untapable, "You might have seen the best filly in the world out there."