2018 Florida Derby Preview – A Todd Pletcher Repeat?


March 29th 2018 – Updated March 31st 5:25 PM CST

Another huge weekend on the Derby trail is coming up this Saturday with the Florida Derby. Three of the last five Florida Derby winners went on to win the Kentucky Derby. I will admit up front that I am a bit disappointed with the quality of this year’s field. I think a race of this stature and a purse of $1 Million dollars should have attracted another heavy hitter or two other on the Derby trail other than Aubible and Promises Fulfilled.

However, slap me silly, remember that the Todd Pletcher-trained Always Dreaming was the surprise winner last year having never won a Graded Stakes race entering that race. And Always Dreaming went on to win the Kentucky Derby. So this race deserves your attention.

Below are the entries, post-positions, jockey assignments and morning line odds for the 105th Louisiana Derby. The race will be televised live by NBC Sports Network.

The Florida Derby

The Florida Derby – 1 1/8th Mile – Race #14 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: Saturday March 31st at 5:30 PM CST. Televised by NBCSN 

1. Strike Power (122) – Saez/Hennig – 4/1
2. Millionaire Runner (122) – Batista/Mejia – 50/1
3. Tip Sheet (122) – Zayas/Gold – 30/1
4. Promises Fulfilled (122) – Albarado/Romans – 3/1
5. Storm Runner (122) – Gaffalione/Romans – 20/1
6. Catholic Boy (122) – I.Ortiz Jr/Thomas – 7/2
7. Hofburg (122) – J. Ortiz/Mott – 20/1
8. Audible (122) – Velazquez/Pletcher – 9/5
9. Mississippi (116) – Leparoux/Casse – 12/1

Race Commentary:  This race should come down to Aubible, Promises Fulfilled and Catholic Boy for the win. I ranked the Todd Pletcher trainee Audible in my Top 3 Kentucky Derby Contenders awhile back behind Bolt d’Oro and McKinzie. Will trainer Todd Pletcher be a repeat winner of the Florida Derby?

Nothing I have seen in my research for this races changes my mind about Audible. So he will be my favorite for this year’s Florida Derby so long as it is a dry race. Audible has been training well and ran an impressive time of 1:41.92 in the 8 1/2 furlong Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park back on February 3rd. 

UPDATE: There no scratches and no chance of rain. The betting public right now likes Aubible and Catholic Boy and is cold on Promises Fulfilled. I still like big straight win bets on Audible.

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Santa Anita Derby and the much-anticipated rematch of Bolt d’Oro vs McKinzie at Santa Anita Park. I will also preview the best of the two remaining Derby prep races that day between the Blue Grass Stakes and the Wood Memorial depending upon their entries. If time permits, I will preview all three.


The 2018 Fountain of Youth Stakes – Does Good Magic still any magic left?



March 1st 2018 – Updated March 3rd 2018 4 PM CST

It has been a relatively quiet 2018 Derby trail season with two of the top three Kentucky Derby favorites–Good Magic and Bolt d’Oro–having been idle since the 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile nearly four months ago. Argh, this is reflected in my blog views and especially since so many exciting older horses were retired last year.

Admittedly, it’s been a bit of a dull run since the Breeders’ Cup Championships. But everything is about to change this month as this year’s Derby class is talented and will carry the torch forward for the sport due to the dearth of talent left in the older horse division. This is not my opinion, but sadly, unfortunately, the unbridled truth. No American Pharoah, California Chrome, Arrogate to excite the masses.

Ok, its time to get excited again as a very talented colt, Good Magic, is entered in the Fountain of Youth Stakes this Saturday at Gulfstream Park. Does the son of Curlin have any magic left? He resumed training on January 1st and if his workout times are any indication, he should be ready to fire another great performance for trainer Chad Brown.

Below are the entries, post-positions, weights, jockey assignments and morning line odds. The race winner will secure enough points to make the 2018 Kentucky Derby field:

The Holy Bull Stakes

The Holy Bull Stakes – 1 1/16th Mile – Race #14 at Gulfstream Park – Post-Time: Saturday February 3rd at 5:09 PM CST. Televised by TVG

1. He Takes Charge (116) – Gafflione/Casse – 20/1 
2. Free Drop Billy (122) – Albarado/Romans – 9/2  SCRATCHED
3. Peppered (116) – Juarez/Baker – 30/1
4. Strike Power (122) – Saez/Hennig – 4/1
5. Storm Runner (116) – Rosario/Romans – 15/1
6. Good Magic (122) – J.Ortiz/Brown – 7/5
7. Gotta Go (120) – Landeros/Wilkes – 10/1
8. Marconi (116) – Castellano/Pletcher – 8/1
9. Machismo (116) – Jimenez/Quarterolo – 15/1
10. Promises Fulfilled (116) – Ortiz Jr/Romans – 20/1

Race Commentary:  Two words, Good Magic. I am not 100% confident with a colt coming off a long layoff but I like his chances in this field. I can’t bet against him.

What might be more interesting is who finishes 2nd. Strike Power is undefeated in two starts. Free Drop Billy has run well for trainer Dale Romans. I have liked the prospects of Todd Pletcher’s Marconi. Overall, I like this Trifecta finish: 1) Good Magic, 2) Free Drop Billy, 3) Strike Power.

Free Drop Billy has been scratched. Now most of the money will be bet on Good Magic so I don’t think this will be a good betting race unless you think Strike Power can pull the upset.

Check back later for updates and scratches.

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park and the 2018 Tampa Bay Derby at Tamp Bay Downs. Both races are scheduled for Saturday March 10th.