Gulfstream Park's highlight race takes place Saturday afternoon with the 59th edition of the Grade 1 $750,000 Florida Derby. It was moved up a week this year and will now be seven weeks out from the Kentucky Derby. This actually cost the race its likely favorite in Eskendereya. The owners, Zayat Stables, did not want the horses final prep for Churchill Downs to be that far out from the First Saturday In May, so they have elected to go to the Wood Memorial on April 3 at Aqueduct. However, that's enough about who is NOT here, let's take a look at who is here.
I will go with chalk in the top spot here and take #7 Rule. He has won his last four starts, including two Grade 3s at Delta Downs and Tampa Bay Downs. This will be his first real shot at the big time, but of course, it is not the first shot at the big time for trainer Todd Pletcher, who had to be relieved that the Zayats elected to go to New York and ease the pressure on him a little Saturday. If there is a concern with Rule, it would be if someone goes with him on the front end. Do consider that he has yet to go this far in his six-race career. For second, I elected to try a price pick with #8 Ice Box. He didn't strut his best stuff in the Fountain Of Youth at this distance and racetrack on February 20, but he did win the two races directly before that disappointing effort. His morning-line of 15-1 is certainly appealing and there is class aplenty in the lineage with both A.P. Indy and Tabasco Cat present. I will put #11 Radiohead third. He actually is my new Derby Darling after the failure of Dublin in the Rebel Stakes last weekend (especially after Dublin was bet down to favoritism status). He dominated an Allowance field in his first start of 2010 at Gulfstream and Edgar Prado has been through the Derby drama before with the gutsy gelding, Funny Cide. His worst race was also his worst experience, trip-wise, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last November. Finally, I will put #2 Lentenor in the fourth spot, despite the fact that this will be his first start ever on dirt. His brother is the fabled Barbaro, winner of the 2006 Kentucky Derby. He also was the winner of the 2006 Florida Derby for good measure. Lentenor's last workout on March 15 was a bullet for five furlongs, going the distance in one minute exactly. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $750,000 Florida Derby:
$1 EX BOX 2-7-8-11 and $1 TRI 7 with 1-2-4-6-8-11
As always, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers made in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!