Florida Derby Day

Each year the best colts/geldings (and the occasional filly, but not this year) are nominated and prepare for the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday of May. For my money, May 7 will be the best day of the year. But today’s race is a critical steppingstone.

Soldat was impressive in the Fountain of Youth. Kiaran McLaughlin is always dangerous as a trainer. Soldat’s sire is War Front (and also the sire of The Factor). Many analysts get into the dam’s side of the ledger. I’m skipping it. That is not a comment on whether the dam’s qualities matter; it’s simply that I don’t want to get into those details. Soldat has a nice way of going. He is the morning-line favorite. His Jockey is Alan Garcia, who I think is smart and has a way with a horse.

To Honor and Serve is in the best of hands with Bill Mott. He didn’t fire in the Fountain of Youth and the pre-race chatter was that he wasn’t expected to win that day because he ‘needed the race’. I have a little problem with trainers entering horses to get some experience into them. I understand the necessity, but entering a horse you’re pretty sure will lose seems a bit disingenuous, even if all the bettors know it. That said, he’s a Bernardini and should get the distance, and from what I’ve seen, he covers ground well. Garrett Gomez is the pilot; one of the best, although I’ve seen him make the occasional mistake.

I haven’t seen Arch Traveler run, and know little about him. He’s 20-1. By Sky Mesa, and seriously inbred to Mr. Prospector.

Same for Bowman’s Causeway. His trainer is Patrick Biancone, who sometimes skates close to the edge. He’s a Giant’s Causeway, so distance should not be a problem.

Shackleford I like just for his name. Dale Romans is very capable and I’ve loved the pieces I’ve seen of him and his wife as they run their stable. Also 20-1, and I don’t know the jockey. By Forestry, out of an Unbridled mare.

Stay Thirsty (also a great name). Trained by the Toddster and ridden by Ramon Dominguez, and getting blinkers for the first time. 8-1. By Bernardini, out of a Storm Bird mare. One of the best riders, one of the best trainers, but he’s the number two in his stable.

Dialed-In. His move in the Holy Bull was spectacular. His next race, not so much. Nick Zito, Julien Leparoux (a personal fave). He needs the race to set up well for him, which is dependent to some extent on his jockey. Eight horses should work to his advantage, but twenty horses in the Derby will be a real problem. I love, love, love the way he moves. By Mineshaft out of a Storm Cat mare. Also love the pedigree.

Flashpoint, by Pomeroy, whose offspring have been distinguishing themselves this spring. Also love the way he moves (high cruising speed) and his last proves he can keep going, which entrances me. Ridden by Cornelio Velasquez and trained by Rick Dutrow. I respect this jockey, but he’s not the best jock here, which is worrisome. R. Dutrow is a very good trainer.

So: Dialed-In and Flashpoint. Because they move well. One gets in front and dares the rest to come and get him (except he has more in the tank). The other waits until the far turn and then runs down the rest of the field. Every horse needs to get a good trip, so it depends on who is lucky and has a smart jockey. I think Leparoux is the smarter jockey, but I think Dutrow is the smarter trainer.

This is the first time since the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile that a group of quality colts has actually run against each other. So there may be some clues here.

Here are the entrants: (from the Daily Racing Form – http://www.drf.com/entries

Florida Derby

1 1/8 Miles | Open | 3 Year Olds |  G1STAKES |  Purse: $1,000,000
Exacta / Trifecta / $0.10 Superfecta / Daily Double (Races 10&11) Bet 3 (Races 10-11-12)
1 1 Soldat
ML: 9-5
A. Garcia
122 Lbs
K. McLaughlin L
2 2 To Honor and Serve
ML: 4-1
G. Gomez
122 Lbs
W. Mott L
3 3 Arch Traveler
ML: 20-1
J. Lezcano
122 Lbs
J. Jerkens L
4 4 Bowman’s Causeway
ML: 20-1
P. Lopez
122 Lbs
P. Biancone L
5 5 Shackleford
ML: 20-1
J. Castanon
122 Lbs
D. Romans L
6 6 Stay Thirsty
ML: 8-1
R. Dominguez
122 Lbs
T. Pletcher Blk-On L
7 7 Dialed In
ML: 2-1
J. Leparoux
122 Lbs
N. Zito L
8 8 Flashpoint
ML: 6-1
C. Velasquez
122 Lbs
R. Dutrow, Jr. L

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