Saturday, December 26, 2020

Colonel Liam Rolls in Tropical Park Derby; Vigilantes Way and Sir Anthony Win GP Stakes

Robert and Lawana Low’s Colonel Liam overwhelmed nine rivals in Saturday’s $75,000 Tropical Park Derby, making an emphatic case for being extended an invitation to the $1 million Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational (G1) Jan. 23 at Gulfstream Park.

The Tropical Park Derby, a 1 1/16-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds, highlighted Saturday’s 11-race program at Gulfstream,  along with the $75,000 Tropical Park Oaks, a 1 1/16 turf stakes for 3-year-old fillie
s, and the $75,000 H. Allen Jerkens, a two-mile turf stakes for 3-year-olds and up. 

Julien Leparoux was the winning jockey in both of those races. He rode Vigilantes Way, who led at every call and won the Tropical Park Oaks by 2 1/4 lengths over More Than Unusual.    

Vigilantes Way, at  5-2, was clocked  in 1:40.61--faster than Colonel Liam two races earlier.  It was her first stakes win. Vigilantes Way, a daughter of Medaglia d'Oro, is trained by Shug McGaughey for his long-time breeder-owner client the Phipps Family. 

 In the H. Allen Jerkens, Leparoux rode 28-1 shot Sir Anthony to a  come-from behind win.  They caught Conviction Trade just inside the eighth pole and went on to beat him by three-quarters of a length. Sir Anthony, trained by William Mitchell had a winning time of 3:19.48 on the course listed as firm.

Colonel Liam, the 6-5 favorite ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., was making his first start since Aug. 20 but showed no rust at all while pulling away to a 3 ¼- length victory.

“He’d been training exceptionally well leading to this. We’re happy to get him back,” trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Hopefully, that earns him a spot in the Pegasus Turf.”

The son of Liam’s Map rated several lengths behind the early pace while clear on the outside. Don Juan Kitten cut fractions of 24.30 and 48.51 seconds for the first half mile under Edgard Zayas and continued to show the way heading into the turn for the homestretch, as Colonel Liam launched a breathtaking outside sweep that would carry him to the lead at the top of the stretch. The Kentucky-bred colt powered away from the field without much urging from Ortiz.

"I had a good trip, I broke out of there and tried to get a good position,” Ortiz Jr. said. “After the three eighths pole, I tried to move on because I have probably the best horse and let him pick it up and he responded very well. He's a very nice horse."

Don Juan Kitten held second, a neck ahead of Summer to Remember.

Colonel Liam ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:40.05 to record his third victory in five career starts. The $1.2 million purchase at the 2019 OBS April sale graduated via the disqualification of the first-place finisher in his April 11 debut over Gulfstream’s main track before finishing third in an optional claiming allowance at the Hallandale Beach track May 20.

Two months later, Colonel Liam scored an impressive 2 ¾-length allowance victory in his turf debut at Saratoga, before enduring a nightmare trip in a fourth-place finish in the Saratoga Derby, in which he was beaten by less than a length by victorious Domestic Spending.

“He’s really taken to the turf. We saw that in his allowance at Saratoga. He got in a little trouble in the Saratoga Derby,” Pletcher said. “He came back great. I thought it was an impressive race. He kind of made a little bit of an early move and kept on going.”

Colonel Liam gives Pletcher three prime candidates for the Pegasus Turf, joining Largent, who captured the Fort Lauderdale (G2) at Gulfstream Dec. 12, and
Social Paranoia, a multiple graded-stakes winner and recent optional claiming allowance winner at Gulfstream.

“Obviously, anytime you can get your name thrown into the hat of any of those Pegasus races, you’ve got to get excited,” stable manager Jacob West said. “Todd had kind of hatched that plan weeks ago. He said if he runs well we might point to that. Obviously after today’s performance we’ll point to that.”



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