This first weekend in April weekend is one of my favorite pre-Kentucky Derby races…. at Gulfstream Park: the $1 million Florida Derby.
We’ll find out which horses are true contenders for the Derby after the race, and I’ll let you know who won.
Run every year since 1953, some of the greatest horses to ever step foot on a racetrack have used this race as a springboard to the Triple Crown races as well as to brilliant careers.
The list of winners is eye popping starting withNashua in 1955, then to Northern Dancer in 1964, Alydar in 1978, the great Spectacular Bid in 1979, eventual Belmont Stakes winner and ill fated Swale in 1984, eventually Horse of the Year Holy Bull in 1994.
This year’s race filled as strong as ever with no less the 5 of the 8 horses entered with a legitimate chance of winning.
The 9-5 morning line favorite is Soldat, and he and will be breaking from the rail.
“This is not like the last race where we were the only speed and needed to get a fast break from the rail,” trainer Kairan McLaughlin said. “I expect that (jockey) Alan (Garcia) will settle him inside and wait for about the first three-eighths to see how it shapes up. Dutrow’s horse (Flashpoint) is on the outside, and he looks like the most early speed. I expect he will clear and take the lead. There are several others in there with speed.”….I agreed Kiaran.
To Honor and Serve, a disappointing third in the Fountain of Youth when he was defeated by almost seven lengths in his season debut by Soldat, has been installed as the 4-1 second choice.
Flashpoint is the 6-1 third choice.