With the Kentucky Derby (G1) prep races in their final few weeks, usracing.com is publishing profiles of the contenders for the $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday [March 27], a Derby points-qualifier offering 100-40-20-10 points to the first four finishers. Post-position and odds will be updated following Wednesday’s draw.
By Lynne Snierson
The name Quantum Leap is apropos for this son of Pioneer of the Nile as he is taking a quantum leap from a maiden special weight race win in only his third start all the way up into a Grade 1 stakes in Saturday’s Florida Derby (G1).
In the race, he’ll be asked to tangle with graded stakes winners and 3-year-olds far more seasoned than he is, so the competition is mighty salty. Yet Quantum Leap showed his connections that he’s got grit last time out when he fought to the finish to prevail by a neck at Gulfstream on Feb. 20.
Other positives from that effort were threefold: he gained experience handling two turns, he proved he can get the 1 1/8 miles distance of the Florida Derby, and he showed he performs well at Gulfstream Park.
“The waters get deep here, but we’ll give him a shot,” said trainer Ian Wilkes. “We’ll see where he belongs. We’re giving him his chance.”
What is also to the colt’s credit is that in his last race he earned a speed figure (92) that was a quantum leap from the “fig” of the race before (64), which was run at 7 furlongs, also at Gulfstream. Wilkes said that in the Jan. 23 race when the colt finished sixth, he had displaced his palette, which compromised his ability to breathe properly.
“We took care of that and now he’s all good. It’s amazing what they can do when they can get their air,” said Wilkes.
Post position: TBD
Trainer: Ian Wilkes
Jockey: Miguel Vasquez
Owners: Lothenbach Stables
Career record: 3-1-0-1
Career earnings: $34,730
Top Equibase speed figure: 92
Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Grand Glory, by Distorted Humor
Running style: Off the pace
Notes: Quantum Leap has put in a pattern of four solid works at the Palm Meadows Training Center in South Florida. On March 21 he tuned up with a 5-furlong breeze in 1:00.95, the fourth fastest of eight at the distance … Pioneerof the Nile is the sire of 2015 Triple Crown champion, BC Classic winner and Horse of the Year American Pharoah … Quantum Leap was bought for $270,000 at the 2019 Keeneland September Yearling Sale… Ian Wilkes, the former top assistant to Carl Nafzger, is most widely known for training 2012 BC Classic winner Fort Larned … Bob Lothenbach, who made his fortune in the printing business, is one of the top owners in the Midwest and has a large stable with horses divided among multiple trainers. His horses have earned more than $20 million and his three Grade 1 winners, all females, are Mayo on the Side, Vacare, and Bell’s the One, who remains in training with Neil Pessin.
Lynne Snierson, a former director of communications at Arlington Park and Rockingham Park, currently is a freelance writer and racing publicist. She covered thoroughbred racing as an award-winning sportswriter for newspapers In Boston, Miami, and St. Louis. She lives in New Hampshire. Secretariat remains her all-time favorite horse.