HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Michael Gorham says he believes Adore the Gold is a length better than his last race. If the trainer is right, his horse might be good enough to win today's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Adore the Gold finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth four weeks ago, beaten just by a length -- with Scat Daddy edging Stormello by a nose, and Nobiz Like Shobiz third.
Scat Daddy and Stormello will go at it again as the top two betting choices in the 11/8-mile Florida Derby, but Gorham said his colt is better than before.
"He's feeling good and ready to go," Gorham said yesterday. "He's put on some miles since his last race, and we're looking to win."
Owner Jack Murphy added Adore the Gold was out bucking and playing and giving every indication he was ready for a big effort.
"We love this horse," Murphy said. "He's a very laid-back horse like his daddy, Formal Gold. When he gets in the gate his personality changes. He's a tiger."
The Florida Derby is a chance to grab national attention for the next five weeks leading to the Kentucky Derby. Last year, undefeated Barbaro won by a half-length before his overpowering Derby victory.
Scat Daddy, trained by Todd Pletcher, is the 5-2 morning-line favorite, with Stormello 3-1, followed by Notional at 4-1 and Adore the Gold at 6-1. Rounding out the nine-horse field is Imawildandcrazyguy, Chelokee, Boogie Boggs, Johannesburg Star and Birdbirdistheword.
Adore the Gold may have given a hint of what's to come when he blazed five furlongs in 573/5 seconds at Gulfstream a week ago. The workout was almost two seconds faster than the next best time.
"It was a real fast track that morning," Gorham explained. "We wanted to let him do a little something."
He sure did. Bill Currin, who co-bred, co-owns and trains Stormello, even took notice from California. After mentioning Scat Daddy and Notional as the biggest threats, he added: "Another horse I'm concerned about is Adore the Gold. He worked in 57 and some and my horse only worked in 58. That kind of makes me mad."
Leaving from the No. 4 post also may help Adore the Gold. In the Fountain of Youth, he broke from the No. 9 post, and jockey Edgar Prado had to hurry the colt near the front earlier than he wanted. By the time the field turned for home in the 11/8-mile race, Adore the Gold was tiring.
"We had to force the issue the last time to get him inside," said Gorham, who used to train on the Massachusetts fair circuit before building a 45-horse stable based at Delaware Park.
With regular rider John Velazquez riding in Dubai on Saturday, Prado will be aboard Scat Daddy. Cornelio Velasquez, Gulfstream's leading jockey, gets the call on Adore the Gold.
Scat Daddy, one of several Derby hopefuls trained by Todd Pletcher, comes into the race with four victories in seven starts for owners James Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor.
Stormello, winner of the Hollywood Futurity, is out to avenge his tough loss in the Fountain of Youth.
Notional, one of four Derby hopefuls trained by Doug O'Neill, is 2-for-2 this year and needs a solid race to move on to Churchill Downs.
Barbaro's trainer Michael Matz sends out Chelokee, who is coming off an impressive allowance win at Gulfstream on March 3. Nick Zito is still looking for a Kentucky Derby horse and will try again with Boogie Boggs, an 8-1 shot.
Where: Gulfstream Park, Hallandale, Fla.
Post time: 5:30 p.m.
Radio: WLXO FM 96.1
When: 5:30 p.m. (HRTV)
Where: Hallandale Beach, Fla.
For: 3-year-olds Distance: 11/8 miles
Purse: $1,000,000 Weight: all are carrying 122 pounds
Pp Horse Jockey Odds
1 Notional R. Albarado 4-1
2 Imawildandcrazyguy R. Bejarano 15-1
3 Scat Daddy E. Prado 5-2
4 Adore the Gold C. Velasquez 6-1
5 Stormello V. Espinoza 3-1
6 Chelokee R. Dominguez 8-1
7 Boogie Boggs J. Bravo 8-1
8 Johannesburg Star R. Maragh 30-1
9 Birdbirdistheword M. Cruz 12-1