Florida Derby Picks

Gulfstream Park was up and running on Thursday and Friday, so it would seem they will go on with the Saturday card, featuring the Grade 1, $750,000 dollar Florida Derby.

The 1 1/8th mile Florida Derby is the final contest on a card of fourteen races at Gulfstream Park.  It has a scheduled Post Time of 6:35.  Here then is a look at the field of twelve, along with Morning Line odds.

1. AS SEEN ON TV  [12-1]  Trainer: Kelly Breen.  Jockey: Paco Lopez.  After a close battle to lose by a head in the local Mucho Macho Man Stakes, he was an interesting horse on the Derby trail with some upside.  But he digressed with a flat 3rd place finish as the 2-1 second choice in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), 8 ¾ lengths behind ETE INDIEN. This Post Position will help him save ground here and he could use that to his advantage for a minor share.   

2. SHIVAREE  [30-1]  Trainer: Ralph Nicks.  Jockey: Emisael Jaramillo.  His two-turn route attempt last September is not too inspiring, as he finished a distant 5th by 12 ½ lengths.  His half-brother- GARTER AND TIE, ran a dismal 10th in this race last year and then returned sprint distances.  Expect a similar fate for this guy as well.

3. DISC JOCKEY  [20-1]  Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.  Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione.  Given that his most recent effort is a runner-up finish in a local starter Stakes, it is hard to imagine him hitting the top half of this field.  If he manages to Win or break into the Trifecta, it will defy all handicapping logic. 

4. SOROS  [30-1]  Trainer: Gustavo Delgado.  Jockey: Edgar Prado.  He lost to the very slow FORT McHENRY at Gulfstream Park West last November.  So he too would defy logic by Winning this race.  To his credit, he did go on to Win the Smooth Air Stakes locally later that month.  But it was a weak field.  He would need to move 20 lengths or more off the layoff to compete in this spot.

5. GOUVERNEUR MORRIS  [8-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: John Velazquez.  He Won in Saratoga last September in his debut.  In his second start, he was 2nd but well beaten by MAXFIELD in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1).  That was back when some handicappers regarded MAXFIELD as a possible super horse.  GOUVERNEUR MORRIS’ Speed Figures are nothing eye-opening-  with a 111, 101 and 96 in his three starts.  Regardless, Trifecta and Superfecta tickets should include him.   

6. AJAAWEED  [20-1]  Trainer: Kiaran McLaughlin.  Jockey: Luis Saez.  Despite a perfect pace setup in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), this closer didn’t threaten, crossing the wire 13 ¾ lengths behind SOLE VOLANTE.  A quality horse at least makes a dent with a pace setup, no matter the distance.  He does get the extra ground now, and if the pace is hot, he might clunk his way on the board.

7. TIZ THE LAW  [6-5]  Trainer: Barclay Tagg.  Jockey: Manuel Franco.  After Winning the Champagne Stakes (G1) in only his second start, he disappointed his backers with a 3rd place finish in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2). In his return start in the Holy Bull, he fired by a challenging ETE INDIEN on the far turn and proved to be the better horse.  He tries nine furlongs for the first time.  The Daily Racing Blog often advises bettors to play against a heavy favorite trying something new.   

8. MY FIRST GRAMMY  [50-1]  Trainer: Amador Sanchez.  Jockey: Hector Isaac Berrios.  He lost by 6 ¼ lengths earlier this month in a local one-mile race, so it is difficult to endorse this Maiden.  His presence is only notable because he brings speed to the table, which means he could end up being a nuisance to ETE INDIEN.  By the far turn he should fold like a camp chair under the weight of more talented horses.  

9. INDEPENDENCE HALL  [9-2]  Trainer: Michael Trombetta.  Jockey: Joel Rosario.  Detractors argue he is distance-limited because he finished 2nd in the Sam F. Davis after SOLE VOLANTE mowed him down.  But if every speed horse who ran 2nd in a route was a sprinter or miler, then how many routers are left?  He ran hard at almost every point in the race.  His odds will likely stay around 9-2 because TIZ THE LAW and ETE INDIEN will take the lions share of the money, so he will offer Value.  It’s possible he isn’t the best horse going up against TIZ THE LAW, but he’s the right one to bet. 

10. CANDY TYCOON  [20-1]  Trainer: Todd Pletcher.  Jockey: Javier Castellano.  He too had plenty of hype at Saratoga last summer before his debut.  Unfortunately, he burned money with a 3rd place finish and continued to do so until breaking his Maiden locally on January 25th.  He then moved forward with a runner-up finish to ETE INDIEN in the Fountain of Youth.  As the year progresses he could still develop into a formidable 3-year-old.  But for now it seems he is limited to the bottom slots when placed in this difficult spot.

11. SASSY BUT SMART  [50-1]  Trainer: Kendall Condie.  Jockey: Joe Bravo.  He did finish 4th by 1 ¾ lengths in the Palm Beach Stakes (G3) on turf.  He also broke his Maiden on turf.  Can he transfer that form to dirt?  His only try on dirt was a 4th place finish in a Maiden sprint in January.  This Post Position does him no favors either, as only talented horses Win from the outside in two-turn Gulfstream routes.   

12. ETE INDIEN  [4-1]  Trainer: Patrick Biancone.  Jockey: Florent Geroux.  No denying this colt is a talented pacesetter.  In the Holy Bull, he finished a strong 2nd after taking on some mild pressure early in the going.  Despite eventually losing by three lengths to TIZ THELAW, he managed to separate himself by 11 ½ lengths from the 3rd place finisher.  He draws a bad Post Position, but proved in the Fountain of Youth that he owns the speed to clear the field.  Even though his Morning Line odds say 4-1, that is not realistic.  Expect 2-1 or 5-2, and if that plays out, the Value is questionable.

Conclusion: Odds and value aside, TIZ THE LAW looks best on paper.  He possesses the right running style and drew a Post Position that will allow him to run in the clear.  Downside(s) would be he has never gone nine furlongs, and he did lose some training time due to a minor injury.

ETE INDIEN is training superbly and owns plenty of speed, which he used to finish 2nd to TIZ THE LAW in the Holy Bull and Win the Fountain of Youth.  However, can ETE INDIEN get the distance?

INDEPENDENCE HALL brings stamina questions as well, after finishing 2nd in the Sam F. Davis.  But he gets a pass for the fast pace and should go off as third choice.  He can Win this race and offers better Value than the two names above.

As long as INDEPENDENCE HALL is the third betting choice or higher, he is the pick.

The Play: A Trifecta, and Superfecta Key using the #9 on top of  the #1-5-7-10-12, as well as an Exacta Box with the #5-7-9.  Best of luck regardless of how you play it.

The Daily Racing Blog wishes our readers a safe trip in these troubled times, and  reminds you that this isn’t a one-turn, five furlong sprint, but rather a Steeplechase, with a greater distance to travel and obstacles to overcome before we can get to the finish line and claim Victory.  So stay the course, and down the road we’ll have a big party in the Winners Circle !


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