Afternoon rains prior to the Tropical Park Derby created a ‘yielding’ turf course for the event, but it didn’t seem to make a difference for Fly by Phil, who was making his turf course debut. After stalking the pace in the early going of the 1 1/8 miles race, Fly by Phil rallied down the homestretch to catch Lost Aptitude in the very end to win by a head. Cat Park finished third.
Fly by Phil was the 17th winner of the meeting for trainer Kathleen O'Connell, who leads the trainer standings by two with the Tropical Meet closing Saturday, Jan. 2.
Winning trainer’s quotes:
Kathleen O’Connell — “After a 2 year old has won a couple of races, there aren’t too may options for them. Although he had never run on turf, Mr. (Gilbert) Campbell and I decided the timing was right and we’d give him a chance. I actually would have had much more confidence in his chances if the race had come off the turf, although this horse does have turf pedigree. We’ll look ahead now to the Sam Davis ($225,000 (G3) 1 1/16 miles on Feb. 13) at Tampa Bay, which has been in the plans for awhile.”
Winning jockey’s quotes:
Eduardo Nunez – “Even though I haven’t ridden this horse before, I have breezed him several times in the morning, so I know what he is like to ride. He was pretty headstrong going into the first turn, then he settled down a bit and we were actually in a perfect position on the backstretch. The favorite on the lead wasn’t stopping so it was a matter of my horse finishing strong for me and he did.”
About the Tropical Park Derby:
The first “derby” of the New Year in the country, this mile and an eighth turf feature is recognized as the first step on the national Triple Crown trail. Barbaro won the 2006 Tropical Park Derby and would go on to win the Florida Derby (G1) and Kentucky Derby (G1) before sustaining his injury in the Preakness Stakes (G1).