Steady On grabs first stakes victory as Irad Ortiz Jr. gets fifth win on Florida Derby Program. (Coglianese Photo)
David Joseph/Gulfstream Park
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – With a ground-saving stalking trip aboard favorite Steady On, jockey Irad Oritz Jr. earned his fifth victory of the afternoon Saturday at Gulfstream Park in the $150,000 Appleton.
The 71st running of the one-mile Appleton for 4-year-olds and up on the grass was the ninth of 10 stakes, five graded, worth $2.35 million in purses on a spectacular 14-race program immediately preceding the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa for 3-year-olds.
Steady On, co-owned by Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable, had close seconds in his three previous stakes tries for Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher. Starting from Post 6, Ortiz promptly guided the son of Pioneerof the Nile to the rail and the colt ran along comfortably a few lengths off the pace set by Churchtown of 24.22 seconds, 47.52 and 1:10.43.
Coming off the second turn, Ortiz Jr. tipped Steady On to the outside and asked him to engage the leader. Steady On moved alongside 13-1 Churchtown and they raced together through the stretch until Steady On moved away for the win. Steady On reached the wire in 1:34.49 and paid $5.80 as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 11. Peter Brant and Joseph Allen’s Fort Washington finished third.
$150,000 Appleton Quotes
Winning trainer Todd Pletcher (Steady On): “He got a beautiful trip, a ground-saving trip, and kicked on nicely. It worked out kind of how we talked before the race. He’s a warrior. He shows up every time, and he even ran well a couple of times when they took it off the turf onto the synthetic. He just shows up and gives you a good effort every time.”
Winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. (Steady On): “Difficult to feel better than I do when winning in front of my family and so many dear ones that support me at all times. It’s been an incredible afternoon, and hopefully there’s still more to come.”