Orb rallied from fifth place entering the final turn and beat the 3-5 favorite Violence by a half length in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The win gave Orb 50 points under this year’s new system for qualifying for the Kentucky Derby, which virtually guarantees him a spot in the race on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
Violence earned 20 points, raising his total to 30, which some racing analysts expect will be the approximate cutoff for the Derby.
Violence, trained by Todd Pletcher, won all three of his previous career starts and is first on several lists of Kentucky Derby contenders.
The Fountain of Youth, at 1 1/16 miles, was the first stakes race for Orb, who is trained by Shug McGaughey.
It came four weeks after he used an impressive rally to win a 1 1/8-mile allowance race at Gulfstream.
Bettors made Orb the 5-1 second choice in the Fountain of Youth — where past performances indicated there might be a fast pace that would suit his late-running style.
The race developed that way.
Majestic Hussar led Cerro by 1 1/2 lengths after a half mile in a fast 45.45 seconds.
Violence was fifth and Orb was sixth.
Violence, ridden by Javier Castellano, took the lead midway on the turn. Orb, ridden by John Velazquez, passed Violence 50 yards from the finish and won in 1:42.24.
Speak Logistics finished third, 4 3/4 lengths back.
“There was a lot of speed, and I was actually able to get right where I wanted to be,” Velazquez said. “I actually had to ride him pretty hard from the half-mile pole to the quarter pole to keep position, and I hoped it wouldn’t take anything out of him for the stretch.”
The Fountain of Youth was the first race this year for Violence.
“We ended up being pretty close to a hot pace, and as he tends to do, when he made the lead he kind of idles a little bit,” Pletcher said.
McGaughey said he will talk with owner Stuart Janney Iii to determine if the $1 million Florida Derby (Grade 1), on March 30 at Gulfstream will be Orb’s next race.
Gulfstream had two other stakes Saturday.
Look Lively shot out to an early lead and beat the 4-5 favorite Dreaming of Julia by 1 1/2 lengths in the $250,000 Davona Dale Stakes (Grade 2), at 1 1/16 miles on dirt.
Look Lively was ridden by Joel Rosario and won in 1:42.30.
Trainer Mark Hennig said Look Lively’s next race will probably be the Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2) at 1 1/8 miles on March 30.
Data Link beat Joes Blazing Aaron by a length in the $150,000 Canadian Turf, at one mile for 4-year-olds and up.
Javer Castellano rode the 5-year-old Data Link, who won in 1:33.01.
McGaughey trains Data Link, who last year finished third in the Canadian Turf and won three graded-turf stakes at tracks outside Florida.
On Sunday, Gulfstream will have the $150,000 Gulfstream Park Ladies’ Turf Sprint at five furlongs for 4-year-olds and up.