Nine Things You Should Know About the Florida Derby

Horses enter the stretch in the 2011 Florida Derby. (Eclipse Sportswire)

The final round of prep races for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve is under way, and one of the most productive in terms of recent winners is this Saturday: the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Learn nine key facts about the Grade 1 race below.

1. Three of the last five Florida Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby: Always Dreaming (2017), Nyquist (2016), and Orb (2013).

2. The race was first run back in 1952, making this year the 67th edition. The purse on that inaugural edition? $24,750.

3. No jockey has won the Florida Derby more than John Velazquez. He’s won aboard four winners, all since 2009: Quality Road (2009), Orb (2013), Materiality (2015), and Always Dreaming (2017).

Holy Bull in 1994. (Patricia McQueen/BloodHorse Archive)

4. Some of the sport’s all-time greats have run in the Florida Derby, including Nashua, Northern Dancer, Arts and Letters, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, and Holy Bull.

5. The Florida Derby is the highlight of a great day of racing in South Florida. In all, seven stakes will be run for total purses of $2.3 million.

6. The race offers a $1 million purse and 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with the winner’s 100 points all-but guaranteeing the horse a spot in the run for the roses.

7. Trainer Todd Pletcher is a good bet in the race. He’s won three of the last four Florida Derbys and has Holy Bull Stakes winner Audible in this year’s race.

8. The Florida Derby has a big impact on the Triple Crown. Florida Derby runners have gone on to win 59 Triple Crown races, including 24 Kentucky Derbys, 19 Preakness Stakes, and 16 Belmont Stakes.

9. Williamston Kid is one of two horses to win the race by disqualification, and he paid a whopping $183.60 on a $2 win ticket in 1966, a record payout.

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