Kentucky-bred White Abarrio stamped his ticked to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby (G1) with a determined win in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday, April 2.

A sharp winner of the of Holy Bull Stakes (G3) in February, White Abarrio skipped the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) on March 5 and needed a first or second-place finish in the 71st running of the Florida Derby to accumulate enough points to make the field for the Kentucky Derby on May 7. White Abarrio delivered with an impressive win, earning 100 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Ridden by Tyler Gaffalione, White Abarrio raced in fifth position early in the 1 1/8-mile fixture. He made a sweeping three-wide move around the far turn, collaring the early leaders. He dueled briefly with a game Simplication before putting that one away and then repelled a late bid from Charge It to prevail by 1 ¼ lengths at the wire. Now undefeated in his two starts this season, White Abarrio stopped the timer in 1:50.64.

The gray or roan colt, who was bred by Spendthrift Farm, is owned by C2 Racing Stable LLC and La Milagrosa Stable LLC and is trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. By Race Day and out of the Into Mischief mare Catching Diamonds, White Abarrio is now a winner in four of five lifetime starts and has amassed earnings of $823,650. Last year at two, he finished third in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) at Churchill Downs after breaking his maiden on debut and annexing an allowance event at Gulfstream Park in his second lifetime start

“It means the world to me. The Florida Derby is up there with the Kentucky Derby because we’re based at Gulfstream,” said winning trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. “I’m just thankful and blessed that we have this opportunity. It’s amazing.”

Joseph reported the following day that his charge came out of the Florida Derby in fine fettle.

“Physically, he’s not an overly big horse,” Joseph related. “He’s filled out and he’s grown a bit. He’s a changed horse. He’s changed from November to now, and he’s showing it on the track. That’s what you want. You want to be improving at this time of year. I feel he’s making forward progressions.”