Florida Derby Start Thrown ‘Into The Mix’ For Promising El Areeb

by | 02.15.2017 | 2:49pm
El Areeb (Exchange Rate) and jockey Trevor McCarthy win the Withers (Gr III) at Aqueduct Racetrack 2/4/17. Trainer: Cathal Lynch. Owner: M M G Racing Stable

Add the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park to the list of Triple Crown preps being considered for M M G Stables' impressive 3-year-old El Areeb, a winner of his last four races including back-to-back graded stakes.

Laurel Park-based trainer Cal Lynch said the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby is among the races on the radar for El Areeb along with the Blue Grass (G2) April 8 at Keeneland and either of the Gotham (G3) March 4 or Wood Memorial (G2) April 8 at Aqueduct.

El Areeb is unbeaten thus far as a 3-year-old, having won the Jerome (G3) Jan. 2 and Withers (G3) Feb. 4 over Aqueduct's inner track.

“The horse is doing great. We're very, very pleased. He's probably going to work Friday or Saturday. We're looking to do a little something because he's tearing the barn down,” Lynch said. “We've been going back and forth about the Gotham; that's still up in the air. I'm leaning toward waiting for the Wood or the Blue Grass or the Florida Derby, which was thrown into the mix the other day.

“[It'll be] one of those three preps,” he added. “We'll give him a chance. He's going to have to step up and prove that that's where he belongs, but he's doing everything right and we're happy with him.”

Lynch noted the Florida Derby came into play because of the timing and its rich history of runners who went on to success in the Triple Crown. In its first 65 runnings, 43 starters have gone on to win an remarkable 58 Triple Crown events, 23 of them coming in the Kentucky Derby (G1), including Nyquist last year.

“We'll look at where everyone else is settling down and where they're all looking ot go. With all the good horses you're going to run into them at some point,” he said. “The Florida Derby has been a great prep for the Derby. Nyquist came in from California last year and took that route and it proved very successful.

“So many things go into play. We'll finalize our plans but the horse will dictate everything,” he added. “That's always been our way. It's the horse first; whatever's best for the horse. We're not taking anything for granted. We're just keeping our options open right now. The owners and I will sit down when it gets closer to the time and make a final decision.”

Purchased for $340,000 out of the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company's auction of 2-year-olds in training last March, El Areeb broke his maiden on his third try last fall at Laurel. The gray or roan Exchange Rate colt won Laurel's James F. Lewis III Stakes in his subsequent start in November before wins in the Jerome and Withers.

  • Whynotwest

    Nice horse, but not quite sure he is Derby quality. He will more than likely make the field, but probably ultimately end up as an also ran. Reminds me a bit of El Kabeir in 2015, much better than the competition in the early NY preps, but just can’t complete with the top level horses of their crop. And he also just happens to be a gray as well.

  • Jbumi

    I’m hoping he runs in the Wood. 🤞🏽

    • David Juffet

      That works!

  • Mr. Blues

    He’s run 4 race’s so far and has 20 points the Wood would be a nice race and even if he ran second he would have 25 points .I think one more race after that maybe the Florida derby? After that he would have the points to get in , I would think that would be sufficient as far as running for points.Seems some of these horse’s are spent come May no?

    • Carla Parrillo

      It does sound like they are pushed to the limit. Just When I watch a horse that is making strides the points or earnings knock them out of the runnin. The new horses listed this week, some just started pulling in their total points. I’m having trouble keeping up.

  • David Juffet

    He needs to avoid the inner dirt track at The Big A. Any other option is viable.

  • David Juffet

    When was the last time a horse preped on the inner track and won a triple crown race?

  • dennis johnson

    El Areeb is too slow for the 2017 Florida Derby!

  • Carla Parrillo

    Since this report was written. El Areeb has proven a horse to talk about. Since I don’t understand all the terminology I have to base this on what I see, how much improvement is being demonstrated. I do look at distance and time. I do get some of that. He giving what they expected so far. He could easily get all the way to the triple crown. He doesn’t have to be a winner to continue up on the ranks. The racs still goes into his resume. He is only 3yrs old experience will be in his favor for upcoming races during the 2017.

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