04/04/2012 1:38AM

Florida Derby day 2012 - a photo album

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Florida Derby day at Gulfstream Park featured brilliant sunshine, hot temperatures, enthusiastic fans and topnotch racing.  Here are some of the performers -with a few extra photos mixed in - that helped to make the day so special.

Above and below:  This solo flamingo, whom I call Pinky, showed up in the Gulfstream infield pond before the meet began - and was still there for the meet's biggest day.  As usual, he (or she?) didn't seem to notice the hubbub.

Above/below:  The day started out on a bright note when Rogue Romance, off for over a year after being on the 2011 Triple Crown trail, won an allowance optional claimer by 3 lengths.  Rogue Romance, by Smarty Jones and out of an Afleet mare, is trained by Ken McPeek.  Simba's Story (rail, below) was the race favorite and ran third.

Above:  Rogue Romance.

Above:  Travelin Man, trained by Todd Pletcher, won the first stakes of the day - the 6 1/2-furlong Sir Shackleton Stakes - in a squeaker over Jersey Town.  

Above:  Jersey Town was very game in his first start this year.  The 6-year-old son of Speightstown is trained by Barclay Tagg.

Above:  I can't resist including a photo of Will's Wildcat, who ran fourth in the Sir Shackleton.  He sure is a looker!

Above/below:  Speaking of lookers, Awesome Maria looked great again.  Below, the starting gate crew places her regular 'security blanket' across her hind end before she is loaded in the gate (I doubt it's really called a security blanket...but it sounds good).  

Above/below:  The awesome Awesome Maria, who won her eighth stakes race when taking the Grade 3 Rampart Stakes by 2 1/4 easy lengths.  The elegant 5-year-old Maria's Mon mare is trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by E. Paul Robsham Stables LLC.

Above:  4-year-old Za Approval, trained by Christophe Clement, wins the fourth race, an allowance contest.

Above:  Kanagaro and Rajiv Maragh get nipped at the wire by Za Approval in the fourth race.

Above/below:  Fort Larned, trained by Ian Wilkes, paid $26.20 in winning the Skip Away Stakes.  

Above:  Under his blinkers, Fort Larned is a very classy-looking Thoroughbred.

Above: "Oh, hai!"  Affari di Cat checks out the outrider's pony after falling in a maiden race.  He appeared uninjured.

Above:  It seems a promising 3-year-old Todd Pletcher colt wins every day - and on Florida Derby day, it was Ez Effort.  The Arizona-bred son of In Excess, who is a half-brother to Uh Oh Bango, won a maiden event by 8 lengths at odds of .60-1.

Above/below:  Corporate Jungle proved a solid winner for trainer Chad Brown in the Appleton Stakes.  The favored Giant's Causeway colt paid $6.

Above:  Brilliant Speed, a close second choice in the wagering at 2.20-1.

Above:  Decisive Moment, who ran in last year's Kentucky Derby, went off at 43.80-1 and finished sixth in the Appleton.

Above:  The Gulfstream meet, this year, was a record-breaker for Javier Castellano.  Javier not only won the jockeys' title but also won more races than any other jockey, ever, at a Gulfstream meet.

Above:  Gaelico and Javier Castellano looking racy the first time past the wire in an allowance race.

Above:  Saturday's for Fun, by Any Given Saturday and trained by Barclay Tagg, wins a maiden special weight event on the turf.

Above/below:  Grace Hall continues looking great this year, here winning the Gulfstream Oaks Stakes.  The 3-year-old daughter of Empire Maker is trained by Tony Dutrow.

Above:  Zo Impressive, by Hard Spun - Zoftig, ran a solid second to Grace Hall.

Above:  And Why Not, a Michael Matz trainee by Street Cry - Alchemist, who has run second in third in previous stakes races.  This time, she ran seventh to Grace Hall.

Above:  Aqsaam and Rajiv Maragh set the pace in the Orchid, holding a double-digit length lead the first time by.  They hung on for second.

Above:  Coming down the stretch of the Orchid, Keertana (far left) bore down upon the leaders - but could not catch them.

Above/below:  Hit It Rich, by Smart Strike and trained by Claude 'Shug' McGaughey, is not just beautiful but also very consistent.  The grey lass has run first, second or third in 10 of 13 starts.  

Above:  The talk of the town before the Florida Derby was the magnificent Union Rags, who looked great heading to the paddock.

Above:  An issue with Union Rags' right hind shoe necessitated handiwork in the paddock before the Florida Derby.  Michael Matz is in the light brown suit, and Mrs. Phyllis Wyeth and Julien Leparoux are in yellow, right.

Above:  Union Rags and Julien Leparoux.

Above:  El Padrino, by Pulpit and out of a Giant's Causeway mare, is pretty as a picture.

Above:  Take Charge Indy is brought over quickly by Calvin Borel when News Pending dwells at the start, and Fort Loudon (rail) is on his way...in the Florida Derby.

Above:  Coming into the stretch, Take Charge Indy and Calvin Borel led along the rail.  Reveron was second, with Union Rags, El Padrino and others close behind.

Above/below:  Take Charge Indy and Calvin Borel win the 2012 Florida Derby for trainer Pat Byrne and owners Chuck and Maribeth Sandford.

Above/below:  Calvin Borel sure makes great faces!  Reveron ran a very impressive second and Union Rags closed well to be third.

Above:  Pat Byrne, who expressed confidence in his Take Charge Indy during Florida Derby week, was all smiles after the race.  

Above:  Calvin and Pat, in the winner's circle after the race.

Above/below:  Union Rags and Julien Leparoux return to be unsaddled, and Michael Matz and assistant Peter Brette after the race.

Above/below:  Flowers for the winner.  Take Charge Indy, a beautifully bred son of A.P. Indy - Take Charge Lady, by Dehere, has now placed first or second in 4 of 6 races and earned $721,000.  Now he's aiming toward a different type of floral wreath - the roses of the Kentucky Derby.

Video of the 2012 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park: http://www.drf.com/events/florida-derby-gulfstream-park

Gulfstream Park website: http://www.gulfstreampark.com/

zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
Your photo albums are stunning. Thanks so much.
ADKJONES More than 1 year ago
We should just call you 'Awesome Again." You also are the only one to take(a least part of ) a photo of the most beautiful lead poney in the world. We we talking about trying to get some breeding info on ( we hope ) him. Hey, this is Saratoga, we can cope with a non -thoro. Do you know anything about the "King of Spots?' Thanks, Pat
Barbara Livingston More than 1 year ago
Re the horse with the red mouth, it appears the horse banged his mouth on something or bit his tongue, as several people mentioned. It looks bad (find photos of Hansen winning the Breeders' Cup...ick), but it's usually a minor thing....not to be confused with bleeding from the nostrils. Thanks to everyone for their interest in these horses!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Hi Barbara, Excellent as always. They used to have a poem to the Florida Derby in the days program many moons ago. It mentioned a day in the Florida sunshine. Thanks so much for covering it all this year. It's always an important day.
kingsailor2 More than 1 year ago
Your pictures are like beautiful portraits. Thank you very much. You also show what wonderful athletes the horses are. Cannot get enough of your work, Barbara. So glad that DRF has asked you to contribute, it's a major plus for the website.
Jackson Bend More than 1 year ago
Beautiful pictures as always! Just FYI-the Hard Spun x Zoftig filly is Zo Impressive, not Zo Approval
Barbara Livingston More than 1 year ago
Thanks, Jackson Bend! I tend to write these blogs late at night, when my brain isn't working on all 8 (or 2) cylinders! :) I'll fix it now.
laura ban More than 1 year ago
Barbara, 8 cylinders or two, you're the best there is! I'll say it again - the best thing DRF ever did was to bring you on board! Union Rags just gets better looking by the day! He really is the talk of the town, love all your work. Take very good care.
SR Vegas More than 1 year ago
Gorgeous, Gorgeous pictures ! I don't think "bleeders"' has ever been a good term to label a horse. A horse bleeds through exersion, and in my humble opinion , it is not a good thing. I know there are drugs to help them with this, but if they didn't bleed , they wouldn't need drugs. I don't know if 'breeding' is a culprit, but to me any bleeding is not good. If this is from a bit tounge, mouth, or someting , that is different. SR Vegas
Rachel Harding More than 1 year ago
The horse with the red teeth is actually the horse bleeding. No harm in the horse, just sometimes there are bleeders
himmelle More than 1 year ago
I especially like the picture of Union Rags with neck arched and mane blowing in the wind! Curiously, the horse running third in the Skip Away appears to have red teeth.
Kyri Freeman More than 1 year ago
I noticed the red teeth too. I suspect that horse bit his tongue.
Ange More than 1 year ago
He probably just bit his tongue or the inside of his mouth. Not a big deal. I do it a lot myself!
Lisann Backsmeyer More than 1 year ago
I doubt the horse is bleeding (EIPH), as those horses bled from the lungs & blood would come out the nostrils, not be apparent in the mouth.
martha vaughn More than 1 year ago
Wonderful photographs! They make me feel like I was there. Thank you, Barbara!