Earlier in the day, long before the horses broke from the starting gate in the Grade 2, $400,000 dollar Fountain Of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park, an important change was announced.
Rather than see his horse break from the outside post in a field of 11, Saffie Joseph Jr. the trainer for CHANCE IT opted for discretion over valor and scratched (as predicted on Friday by the Daily Racing Blog) the 7-2 second choice, in order to run March 7th in the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby which is this Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.
A few hours later, there was plenty of room for second-guessing.
With the defection of CHANCE IT, the outside post in a field of 10 was left to ETE INDIEN and the notoriously short run to the first turn did not faze this fella.
Jockey Florent Geroux (who was subbing for the injured Luca Panini) made expert use of the speed of ETE INDIEN, and as soon as the gates opened he quickly grabbed a clear lead and cut over to the rail to save ground.
After that, it was no contest.
He galloped along on the lead and then took off in the stretch to cruise to an easy 8 ½-length victory in the 1 1/16-mile stakes for 3-year-olds and wrap up a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
#1 CANDY TYCOON rallied to take 2nd place, while #6 AS SEEN ON TV was 3rd. The $2 dollar Trifecta 11-1-6 paid $360 and was recommended by the Daily Racing Blog on Friday.
Trainer Patrick Biancone spoke very highly of ETE INDIEN; “He went through a week of a hiccups,” said Biancone. “First he lost his jockey, then he drew [on the outside], but good horses can overcome anything and I think he’s an exceptional horse. We look forward to the future.”