Juddmonte Farms’ Fulsome turned in his final workout for the $300,000, Grade 3 Indiana Derby on July 7, cruising five-eighths of a mile in 1:00.80 under jockey Florent Geroux shortly after the Churchill Downs track opened at 5:30 Wednesday morning.
“He did great. It was just maintenance,” Geroux said afterward. “He went 48 and 1:01, so he’s doing good. We’ll see how the race shapes up.”
The Brad Cox-trained Fulsome started his career with four turf races, winning a maiden race and finishing fourth in a stakes in New Orleans, before impressively capturing his dirt debut when a Keeneland allowance race came off the turf. He is now 3-for-3 on dirt, following up with Arkansas’ $300,000 Oaklawn Stakes on Kentucky Derby Day and Churchill Downs’ Grade 3 Matt Winn.
“He transferred over to the dirt well in April at Keeneland,” said Cox, perennially among Indiana Grand’s leading trainers. “I’m glad it came off the turf; it was in the mud. He gave us the confidence to press forward on the dirt, so it’s been very rewarding this spring.”
Cox said they were looking both at the grass and the two-turn mile distances available in turf maiden races when Fulsome began his career.
“A little bit of both. He just never shined a whole lot early on when he was chasing Mandaloun around there last fall,” he said with a laugh in reference to Juddmonte’s Kentucky Derby runner-up. “It took him a little while to come to hand. He’s not a real big horse, and I thought the grass might be a little kinder on him, that he could handle it a little better. He ran well on the grass, but he definitely has stepped up on the dirt.”
In the Matt Winn, Fulsome beat O Besos, one of his Indiana Derby rivals. O Besos, who finished fifth in the Kentucky Derby, is ridden by Indiana Grand’s meet-leader Marcelino Pedroza.
“He ran a good race at Churchill,” Geroux said. “He was going to go by him (O Besos) pretty easily at the end. I was kind of tracking him all the way. He had a very nice turn of foot that day. Hopefully he can repeat and do the same thing at Indiana.”
Geroux rode Fulsome in his first three starts on grass.
“I think he’s probably a touch better on the dirt,” he said. “He was not very quick. So Brad and Juddmonte didn’t feel there was a great need to sprint him on the dirt, having him all the way back and eating dirt. So that’s why he ran a few times on the turf, around two turns. And when he was ready to take on the dirt, they switched him over and he’s been pretty good since then. His numbers show he’s better on dirt, but I think he’s very versatile. He can be close up to the pace and also be farther back — and he’s good on both surfaces.”
Geroux and Cox, the 2020 Eclipse Award-winning trainer, teamed to sweep last year’s Indiana Derby with Shared Sense and Indiana Oaks with Shedaresthedevil, who in her next start won the Kentucky Oaks. Now they’ll try to repeat with Fulsome and Oaks contender Marion Francis, winner of a Churchill Downs allowance race in her last start.
“It was great last year,” Geroux said. “We brought some nice horses over there. It’s easier when you’re the favorite, or one of the favorites, to win these types of races. But it looks like he should be the favorite for the Indiana Derby. I don’t know who’s coming, but my guess is that he would be the favorite.”
The Grade 3 Indiana Derby will be joined by five other stakes on the card, bringing stakes purses for the day to $840,000. The Indiana Derby will be slated as the 12th race on the card with an estimated post time of 8:25 p.m. The Grade 3 Indiana Oaks will be carded as Race 11 with an estimated post time of 7:43 p.m.
The 19th season of Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing is now in progress and continues through Monday, Nov. 8. Live racing is conducted at 2:25 p.m. Monday through Wednesday, with first post on Thursday set at 3:25 p.m. A special Indiana Champions Day highlighting the state’s top Thoroughbred and Quarter Horses will be held Saturday, Oct. 30, beginning at noon. More information about the 2021 racing season is available at www.caesars.com/indiana-grand.
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