One could argue without much opposition that General a Rod's win of the Gulfstream Park Derby was flattered by Wildcat Red’s 4 3/4-length romp in the Hutcheson Stakes. Trainer Mike Maker certainly wouldn't disagree.
“He just gives us confidence the way he’s doing. He’s becoming the horse that we thought he would be, and the other horses he ran against doing well certainly enhances things a bit,” said Maker.
Maker says Saturday's Fountain of Youth has "different circumstances” that could benefit General a Rod.
“He’s a big horse that we’ve been taking our time with. I didn’t want to train him for all the races here. The timing was right for this race, and the mile-and-a-sixteenth makes it better,” Maker said. “I don’t see any problem with him getting two-turns at all. He’s a pretty aggressive horse, and his gallop-outs in his works are always strong.”
To further compliment his form, General a Rod, wearing blinkers for the first time, ran second to Conquest Titan at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30. Conquest Titan subsequently finished second in the Holy Bull. He had drifted in during a race at Keeneland.
“He was very green. It was something we flirted with even before his race. We thought with time, he’d get better and better. But when he did that, there was an inquiry in the race, so we put blinkers on him,” Maker said. “They’ve helped him, but when he gets in front, he still gets lost. Last time, any time in the race, he looked like a winner, but he just didn’t want to draw away from the other horse. After that race, he’s changed for the better.”
General a Rod, who is rated third at 5-1 morning line in the 13-horse Fountain of Youth, will be ridden by Javier Castellano for the first time after Joel Rosario opted to ride Top Billing. Top Billing is rated second in the morning line at 7-2 behind Todd Pletcher-trained Commissioner, the 3-1 favorite. The complete morning line was not available at this post.
Edited Gulfstream Park release