STOUFFVILLE FRIENDS RIDING HIGH WITH THREE RULES
Speedy colt is a major contender in Florida Derby, could Kentucky Derby be next?
Geoff Roy and Tom Fitzgerald of Stouffville, Ontario are living the dream.
The Derby dream.
For now, it’s the Florida Derby dream (we don’t want to get ahead of ourselves just yet) on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The longtime friends, and neighbours, are owners of the hotshot Florida-bred 3-year-old colt Three Rules, whom they bred with a third
partner, Bert Pilcher of Shade Tree Thoroughbreds.
The dark bay son of Gone Astray (Dixie Union) out of their Woodbine winner Joy Rules (Full Mandate) has already provided Roy and Fitzgerald with a whole lot of fun, sweeping the Florida Stallion Series races last year, collecting $1 million in purses and being named the Florida Horse of the Year for 2016.
Now as a 3-year-old, more mature colt, Three Rules is looking to earn his way into the biggest race of them all, the Kentucky Derby on May 6. A good effort in Saturday’s Florida Derby, a Grade 1 worth a cool $1 million. would likely put him in the Derby starting gate.
Roy, a third generation race horse owner and racing fanatic,knows him and his team are living their very own California Chrome-like story of smaller scale owners with a modestly bred colt hitting the big time.
“We’ve just been dabbling in this [racing] stuff,” said Roy, before him and his older son Harrison set off from Toronto to Florida for Saturday’s race. “Now we are in the Florida Derby with a colt by a $5,000 stallion from a $1,200 mare, a homebred. Not many people in the race can say that.”
Growing up just a couple of furlongs from the entrance to Greenwood racetrack, Roy accompanied his father and grandmother to the races on many occasions. He has pictures of himself in the winner’s circle at the age of nine. “I was wearing a suit,” laughed Roy. “My grandmother always dressed up for the races.”
Carl Chapman trained his father’s horses and they had a modicum of success. Geoff, who worked in the metals business, bought his first horse in 1988. Joy’s Delight, the second dam of Three Rules, was among his first purchases.
“I bought her off a lady in Florida to race her at 4 1/2 furlongs at Greenwood,” said Roy. “She was very fast but she couldn’t get it done here.”
The mare, a daughter of Grade 3 stakes winner Christopher R, a son of Swoon’s Son, was send to Hubert and Bert Pilcher’s Shade Tree Farm in Ocala to be bred. She produced a litany of solid runners for Roy, who raced some of them in partnership with Shade Tree. Among the mare’s good runners was Roy’s Ruckus, a 10-time winner who posted a 890 Beyer Figure in a win at Woodbine in 2033 under the care of trainer Phil Gracey.
Roy was soon joined by Fitzgerald, who bought into some of Roy’s horses and they hired Wray Lawrence as their trainer. Roy raced good ones at Woodbine such as Florida on Fire and Mimi Cooper as well as other homebreds from Joy’s Delight.
When Joy’s Delight was 22-years-old she produced a Full Mandate filly for the partners. Named Joy Rules, the filly won her second lifetime start, a $25,00 maiden claiming race at Woodbine in 2007. The filly emerged from the race with a chip in knee, however, and was retired to the breeding shed.
Roy and Fitzgerald and Pilcher have had four useful foals from Joy Rules and knew Three Rules, her fifth foal, was something special early on.
“I tell people we knew he was going to be good when we pulled him out of the mare,” said Roy. “But if you told me I would be here with a horse in the Florida Derby, I would ask you what you were smoking.”
Three Rules rolled through victories in his first five races as a juvenile, sweeping the Florida Stallion series as only the fourth horse to do so undefeated.. He finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Santa Anita before going on a winter break. This season, the speedy colt has been second in the Grade 2 Swale and Fountain of Youth Stakes.
While Roy and Fitzgerald have not raced at Woodbine for seven years, electing to keep their Florida-breds racing in that State’s breeding program, they have plenty of friends and family cheering on their colt through the Three Rules Fan Club Facebook Page.
There may be more to come too. Joy Rules foaled a full brother to Three Rules a week ago and there is a 2-year-old entered in the Ocala April sale, by Soldat, from the mare.
The Kentucky Derby is, of course, on the minds of the team, but Roy insists the colt will only go to the big dance with a strong Florida Derby effort.
“For me, [going to the Derby} will be determined on how things go on Saturday. I’m not going to go [to the Derby] for him to get all hot and dirty. Of course my new 300 best friends (members of the Three Rules Fan Club Facebook page) are all asking if they can get tickets to the Derby,” he laughed.
The Florida Derby is race 14 on a huge Gulfstream card and post time is set for 6:40 p.m. Three Rules has post 10 in the 11-horse field, just inside of big favourite Gunnevera. Canadian-bred STATE OF HONOR, owned by Waterloo’s Manfred and Penny Conrad, has post 1.
Saturday, Gulfstream Park, post time: 6:40 p.m. EDT
XPRESSBET FLORIDA DERBY-GI, $1,000,000, 3yo, 1 1/8m
PP HORSE SIRE OWNER TRAINER JOCKEY ML
1 State of Honor To Honor and Serve Conrad Farms Casse Leparoux 8-1
2 Talk Logistics High Cotton Hardway Stables Plesa, Jr. Bravo 30-1
3 Charlie the Greek Adios Charlie Olympia Star, Inc. Yanakov Reyes 50-1
4 Always Dreaming K Bodemeister Brooklyn Boyz Stbls, Teresa Viola Rcng Stbls et al. Pletcher Velazquez 4-1
5 Quinientos Sky Mesa Rontos Racing Stable Corp. Sanchez Montalvo 50-1
6 Coleman Rocky K Harlan’s Holiday Grupo 7C Racing Stable Delgado Ortiz 30-1
7 Unbridled Holiday K Harlan’s Holiday D P Racing Biancone Juarez 30-1
8 Impressive Edge K Harlan’s Holiday N and K Racing Romans Lanerie 12-1
9 Battalion Runner K Unbridled’s Song St. Elias Stable Pletcher Velazquez 3-1
10 Three Rules Gone Astray Shade Tree Thoroughbreds, Inc., Tom Fitzgerald Pinchin Saez 10-1 and Geoff Roy
11 Gunnevera K Dialed In Peacock Racing Stables, LLC Sano Castellano 9-5
Breeders: 1-Manfred & Penny Conrad, 2-Ocala Stud & Edward Wiest, 3-Suzanne Sharra-Maxwell, 4-Santa Rosa Partners, 5-Oxley, TCF Stallions et al,
Barry & Shelly Simpson, 6-Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings LLC, 7-Don L. Ming, 8-Fred W. Hertrich III & John D. Fielding, 9-Dell Ridge Farm, LLC,
10-Shade Tree Thoroughbreds Inc, Geoff Roy & Tom Fitzgerald, 11-Brandywine Farm & Stephen Upchurch.
HOPING TO B. LUCKY
Canadian-bred graded stakes winner BREAKING LUCKY is one of the favourites for the $400,000 New Orleans Handicap on Saturday at Fair Grounds. Owned by Gunpowder racing, West Point Thoroughbreds and partners, Breaking Lucky is trained by Reade Baker. The son of Lookin at Lucky will be ridden by Luis Contreras.
Saturday, Fair Grounds, post time: 4:39 p.m. EDT
NEW ORLEANS H.-GII, $400,000, 4yo/up, 1 1/8m
PP HORSE SIRE OWNER TRAINER JOCKEY ML
1 Breaking Lucky Lookin At Lucky Gunpowder Farms LLC, West Point T’breds et al. Baker Contreras 8-1
2 Iron Fist K Tapit Stonestreet Stables, LLC & Regis Racing Asmussen Flores 6-1
3 International Star Fusaichi Pegasus Kenneth L. & Sarah K. Ramsey Maker Gaffalione 6-1
4 Honorable Duty K Distorted Humor DARRS, Inc. Walsh Graham 6-1
5 Aglimpseofgabby K Tapit Energy Solutions Consultants, LLC Keen McMahon 112
6 Hawaakom Jazil Stephan H. Smoot & Wesley E. Hawley Hawley Mena 118
7 Roman Approval K Roman Ruler Three Diamonds Farm Maker Maragh 114
8 Mo Tom K Uncle Mo G M B Racing Amoss Albarado 115
9 Noble Bird Birdstone John C. Oxley Casse Geroux 121
10 Eagle Candy Ride (Arg) W. S. Farish Howard Hernandez, Jr. 118
Breeders: 1-Christine Hayden, 2-Gainesway Thoroughbreds Ltd., 3-Katharine M. Voss & Robert T. Manfuso, 4-Juddmonte Farms Inc, 5-Gainesway
Thoroughbreds LTD., 6-Shadwell Farm, LLC, 7-Glencrest Farm LLC & Fox-Straus, 8-Hargus & Sandra Sexton & Silver FernFarm, 9-Jack Swain, 10-W. S.