The Curlin Florida Derby has developed a strong relationship with the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve, thanks to 24 horses from Gulfstream Park’s premier prep for 3-year-old Triple Crown hopefuls winning the run for the roses.
In a world fighting the COVID-19 pandemic, that bond figures to be tested this year as the Kentucky Derby is now scheduled for the first Saturday in September as opposed to the normal first Saturday in May.
Yet with a field of 13 (including one also-eligible entrant), the Florida Derby promises to be an entertaining race and a great betting opportunity with a competitive field at a time when only a handful of racetracks are open.
1. As Seen On Tv (12-1): He turned in a great effort in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, losing by a head, then regressed and was no match for Ete Indien in the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes. Chances are the Mucho Macho Man took a lot out of him and he’s very likely to have a tough time here, even with the benefit of the rail.
JOCKEY: Paco Lopez TRAINER: Kelly Breen
2. Shivaree (30-1): Second by a neck as the favorite in the six-furlong Hutcheson Stakes, he’s an unlikely candidate to stretch out to 1 1/8 miles against a quality field like this one.
JOCKEY: Emisael Jaramillo TRAINER: Ralph Nicks
3. Disc Jockey (20-1): He’s doing quite well for a $35,000 claim. Was a good second in nice time in a minor, seven-furlong stakes, which paints a somewhat optimistic picture. A $16,000 claimer won this race last year, so it’s not implausible that he can win, it’s just unlikely.
JOCKEY: Tyler Gaffalione TRAINER: Saffie Joseph Jr.
4. Soros (30-1): He hasn’t raced since winning the Smooth Air Stakes in late November and this seems a difficult spot to return after a layoff.
JOCKEY: Edgar Prado TRAINER: Gustavo Delgado
5. Gouverneur Morris (8-1): This was supposed to be his springboard to the Kentucky Derby. That still might happen, but there’s a lot of time between then and now. He’s lightly campaigned but had a very useful 3-year-old debut in a Tampa Bay Downs allowance race and should be ready for a big effort here. He certainly has connections who know how to win the race as trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey John Velazquez each own five Florida Derby wins.
JOCKEY: John Velazquez TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
6. Ajaaweed (20-1): Late closers usually do not fare too well here, but maybe there’s magic in the air because this should be trainer Kiaran McLaughlin’s last starter before he becomes a jockey agent for Luis Saez, who has the mount on this 3-year-old. Not sure if he’s fast enough to win, but he could pass some tired horses late and land in the superfecta.
JOCKEY: Luis Saez TRAINER: Kiaran McLaughlin
7. Tiz the Law (6-5): A very deserving favorite off a record of three wins in four starts, with the lone slip-up coming on a wet track in last year’s Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He did not enjoy the best of trips in his 3-year-old debut in the Holy Bull Stakes and still won easily over Ete Indien. There’s no reason to believe the extra sixteenth of a mile will be a problem for him.
JOCKEY: Manny Franco TRAINER: Barclay Tagg
8. My First Grammy (50-1): He’s still a maiden after three tries and it’s doubtful this will be his first win in a Grade 1.
JOCKEY: Hector Berrios TRAINER: Amador Sanchez
9. Independence Hall (9-2): Brilliant at two, he was second at 7-10 odds in the Sam F. Davis Stakes in his only start at three. He had a rough trip and this should show whether it was the journey or the two turns that led to the loss.
JOCKEY: Joel Rosario TRAINER: Michael Trombetta
10. Candy Tycoon (20-1): He was a distant second at 23.90-1 in the Fountain of Youth from the rail. This is a much bigger ask against this field from post 10, but he does have Pletcher on his side and cannot be ignored totally.
JOCKEY: TBA TRAINER: Todd Pletcher
11. Sassy But Smart (50-1): Basically a turfer, a third in a maiden race on dirt, and the post position add up to trouble for him. If he wins they will not be saying “Bravo!” for Jockey Joe. It will be more like, “What????”
JOCKEY: Joe Bravo TRAINER: Kendall Condie
12. Ete Indien (4-1): Was a huge, front-running winner by 8 ½ lengths in the Holy Bull from the outside post after losing to Tiz the Law in his previous race. He’ll need all of that speed and more here from post 12, and while he’s improved dramatically on dirt, chances are he might take a small backward step after a powerful win last time.
JOCKEY: Florent Geroux TRAINER: Patrick Biancone
Also-Eligible 13. Rogue Element (50-1): He’ll need a scratch to run, and if he gets one, coming off a second in a maiden race at 116-1 from the outside post does not bode well for his chances.
JOCKEY: Miguel Vasquez TRAINER: Dale Romans
THE PICK: Tiz the Law
LIVE LONGSHOT: Ajaaweed
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