Ten Things to Know About the 2020 Florida Derby

Racing
Audible and jockey John Velazquez after winning the 2018 Florida Derby. Velazquez has won the race a record five times. (Eclipse Sportswire)

A global infectious disease pandemic has rescheduled the 2020 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve and drastically changed the prep race landscape, but this Saturday’s Curlin Florida Derby remains on the schedule and is expected to attract a competitive field of top 3-year-olds.

Read on for fun facts about this year’s race at Gulfstream Park.

1. The Florida Derby carries a $750,000 purse and 180 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. The winner earns 100 points, all but guaranteeing him a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on Sept. 5.

2. A total of 24 Florida Derby runners went on to win the Kentucky Derby, more than any other prep race. Recent Florida Derby winners to pull the double include Always Dreaming (2017), Nyquist (2016), and Orb (2013). Last year’s Florida Derby winner Maximum Security crossed the wire first in the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified.

3. Trainer Todd Pletcher has won a whopping five editions of the Florida Derby, including four of the last six. He has Candy Tycoon and Gouverneur Morris in this year’s race.

4. Audible won the 2018 race at odds of $1.60-to-1, becoming the only favorite to win in the last 10 years. That doesn’t mean longshots have been victorious, however, with seven of the last 10 winners sent off at 3.30-1 odds or less.

5. The Florida Derby has been won by some of the sport’s all-time great equine athletes, including Nashua, Northern Dancer, Alydar, Spectacular Bid, Holy Bull, and Barbaro.

2012 winner Take Charge Indy. (Eclipse Sportswire)

6. Gen. Duke set a then-world record of 1:46.80 for 1 1/8 miles when he won the 1957 edition. No horse has completed the Florida Derby faster.

7. No horse has won the Florida Derby by a larger margin than Empire Maker. In 2003 he won the race by 9 ¾ lengths.

8. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin will make one of the final starts of his training career with Ajaaweed in Saturday’s race. He is retiring to become the agent for jockey Luis Saez.

9. 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.

10. Jockey John Velazquez has a record five wins in the race, including three of the last four. He’s slated to ride Gouverneur Morris this year.

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