(Trainer Brendan Walsh conditions Prevalence, a Kentucky Derby contender / Coady Photography)

From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:

Godolphin LLC’s Prevalence took a giant step forward Thursday at Gulfstream Park, where the highly regarded 3-year-old colt registered a dominating optional claiming allowance victory that may very well lead to a Kentucky Derby (G1) prep race for his next start.

Bet down to 1-9 in a field of six 3-year-olds on the strength of a dazzling debut in a seven-furlong maiden special weight event at Gulfstream Jan. 23, Prevalence scored by three lengths in his return to action while running the one-turn mile in 1:35.82.

“I think it was a good step up for the horse going from the seven [furlongs] to a mile. It seemed like he got the distance good; the time was good,” trainer Brendan Walsh said. “We can’t ask for much more than what we saw.”

The $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill n’ Dale will be run March 27 at Gulfstream Park but will come up too soon for Prevalence. The Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park and Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct will be run April 3. The latter two preps would seem the most likely targets since Godolphin’s Essential Quality is scheduled to run in the Blue Grass.

“We’ll get back and let the dust settle and talk to the team at Godolphin and see where we go after that,” Walsh said, ‘[A Derby prep] is a strong possibility, for sure.”

Prevalence established himself as a hot Triple Crown prospect when he debuted on the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (G1) undercard. After brushing with a rival shortly after the start, he asserted himself on the backstretch and drew away under wraps to complete seven furlongs in 1:23. The Feb. 27 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream had been a goal for the homebred son of Medaglia d’Oro before he missed a key workout due to a brief bout with a cough.

“It was very important that we did what we did today, and not throw him in too deep,” Walsh said. “I’m very pleased we got this race. Hats off to the guys at Gulfstream for getting the race to go, because I think it was very important for the horse.

Prevalence broke cleanly from his outside post to race a couple lengths off the pace set by Tio Magico, who was making his 2021 debut after finishing second in the Coronation Futurity at Woodbine in his juvenile finale. The Kentucky-bred colt joined the pacesetter leaving the backstretch without any encouragement from jockey Tyler Gaffalione and took a slight lead on the turn into the homestretch. He opened a clear lead in the stretch and finished under mild encouragement.

“It was probably not as flashy as his first race, but I think we’re going to get a lot more out of this race today,” Gaffalione said. “He was definitely more green. He was looking up at the grandstand down the lane. He kind of got lost by himself. I just had to remind him to keep to his task. He has a really bright future. I’m really looking forward to getting to the bottom of him.

“He didn’t disappoint at all today, if anything, I’m even more excited about him because I know, if it comes to it, he will give me some fight,” Gaffalione added.

Southern Passage, who trailed the field early, closed to finish second under Corey Lanerie, a length ahead of Tio Magico.