HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shortly before saddling Great Venezuela for a sparkling 2024 debut at Gulfstream Park Sunday, trainer Victor Barboza had already been given reason to celebrate. 

Granpollo Stable’s Grand Mo the First had officially drawn into the 20-horse field for the May 4 Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs upon the announcement that Deterministic will not run in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

“I’m very happy for my first opportunity to be in the Derby,” said Barboza following Florida-bred Great Venezuela’s 11-length victory in Sunday’s Race 6, a 5 ½-furlong optional claiming allowance for 3-year-old fillies on Tapeta. “I’m excited today it is official. I’ve been looking for the Derby since he ran in the Florida Derby.”

Grand Mo the First earned a total of 40 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with a distant third-place finish behind victorious Fierceness in the March 30 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream and a third-place finish in the March 9 Tampa Bay Derby (G2), in which he finished just a neck behind winner Domestic Product.

“The horse will breeze here Tuesday and will be moved to Kentucky Thursday,” Barboza said. “That will be his last workout. There are no more workouts at Churchill Downs after next week. He’ll just school in the paddock and starting gate. The horse will be ready for the race.”

Emisael Jaramillo will have the mount aboard Grand Mo the First.

Barboza has yet to make future plans for his exciting 3-year-old filly prospect, Great Venezuela, a daughter of Pleasant Acres Stallion Neolithic, bred and owned by Orlyana Farm, who dominated four other fillies under Leonel Reyes. The Florida-bred filly showed promise during her juvenile season, in which she finished second in her debut before scoring back-to-back romping victories on the all-weather surface and finishing third in the Wait a While Stakes on turf.

On Sunday, Great Venezuela pressed the early pace before drawing away powerfully to complete the 5 ½ furlongs in 1:02.93.

Return to the April 23 issue of Wire to Wire