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.



2018 Kentucky Derby Contenders and Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers


February 9th 2018

Opening up today is Pool #2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wagers. The pool is open from Friday February 9th at Noon EST until Sunday February 11th at 6 PM EST. Below are Morning Line Odds along with each horse’s highest Brisnet Speed Figure. Horses with an asterisk are newcomers that were not in Pool #1. Horses in bold font are colts who I had in my Top 25 Kentucky Derby contender watch list.

Colts who were in my Top 25 watch list that didn’t make this Future Wager pool are (with the highest Brisnet Speed Figure): Dak Attack (94), Marconi (94), Paved, Noble Indy (97), Vino Rosso (90) and World of Trouble (101).

The problem with this pool is that there are a few really great colts who have yet to race this year. So it is hard to extrapolate how they might have improved vs some of the most recent new stars like Audible and Mourinho.

Please note that Catholic Boy is entered into tomorrow’s Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. So you may want to wait and see how her performs in that race before putting any money down on him. I had originally hoped to preview that race but I have been battling Bronchitis. I’m sure many can relate because its been a very bad cold and flu season this year. However, looking over that field, Catholic Boy is the deserved 8/5 morning line favorite and would be my choice to win over Vino Rosso and Hollywood Star.

2018 Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool #2

  1. Audible* 12-1 – 105 
  2. Avery Island 20-1 – 94
  3. Bolt d’Oro 10-1 – 105
  4. Catholic Boy* 20-1 – 98
  5. Combatant* 50-1 – 95
  6. Copper Bullet 50-1 – 94 —-> The best longshot in this pool
  7. Enticed 30-1 – 93
  8. Firenze Fire 30-1 – 96
  9. Free Drop Billy 20-1 – 99
  10. Good Magic 10-1 – 105
  11. Instilled Regard* 30-1 – 100
  12. Mask 12-1 – 100
  13. McKinzie 8-1 – 104
  14. Mendelssohn 30-1 – 91 —-> Better Beware: Turf Horse
  15. Montauk 20-1 – 88
  16. Mourinho* 12-1 – 99
  17. Principe Guilherme 30-1 – 92
  18. Retirement Fund* 30-1 – 94
  19. Solomini 20-1 – 101 
  20. Sporting Chance 50-1 – 98 —-> Another longshot worthy of consideration
  21. Strike Power* 20-1 – 103
  22. Tiz Mischief 30-1 – 93
  23. Untamed Domain 30-1 – 89
  24. Mutuel Field/All Others 7/2

My Top Five Kentucky Derby Contenders

Below are detailed profiles on my Top 5 Kentucky Derby contenders:

1) Bolt d’Oro – Although he won two Grade 1 races and produced the highest Beyer Speed Figure of any 2-year-colt last year, he lost the Eclipse Award for 2 Year Old Male Champion to Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Good Magic. I was a little surprised by this. He is the paternal half brother to Songbird and Rachel Alexandra out of an A.P. Indy mare so I love the pedigree. He picks up four time Eclipse Jockey of the Year Javier Castellano as his rider. His Next Start:  The 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 2
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>3rd
Sire: Medaglia d’Oro (Finished 4th in 2002 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Mick Ruis
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.54 – 2017 FrontRunner Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 35.62 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 103 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

2) McKinzie – He is the Top 3 year-old in Bob Baffert’s barn thus far. He is undefeated in three starts. He has plenty of winners behind him. His sire (Street Sense), trainer (Bob Baffert) and jockey (Mike Smith) are all former Kentucky Derby winners. His Next Start:  Like Bolt d’Oro, it appears to be the 2018 San Felipe at Santa Anita Park on March 10th. Oh what a race that will be. Mark your calendars.

Career: 3 Starts 3-0-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Street Sense (2007 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Mike Smith (2005 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.69 (estimated) – 2017 Los Alamitos Futurity
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.99 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 104 Brisnet, 110 Equibase

3) Good Magic – The 2018 Eclipse Award 2 Year Old Male Champion and 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Champion. He is also trained by the 2018 Eclipse Award winning trainer Chad Brown. His Next Start:  The Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 3rd.

Career: 3 Starts 1-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 1
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Curlin (Finished 3rd in the 2007 Kentucky Derby)
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:43.34 – 2017 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.31 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 100 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 109 Equibase

4) Audible – The 2018 Holy Bull Stakes winner and probably the early Florida Derby favorite. The only question mark is his pedigree and whether he will like the 10 furlong distance. His sire Into Mischief never raced further than 8 1/2 furlongs. His Next Start:  The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on March 31st.

Career: 4 Starts 3-0-1-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 1st–>1st–>1st
Sire: Into Mischief 
Trainer: Todd Pletcher (2010 and 2017 Kentucky Derby Winning Trainer)
Jockey:  Javier Castellano
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: 1:42.92 – 2018 Holy Bull Stakes
Closing Speed Estimate: 37.60 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 105 Brisnet, 99 Equibase

5) Mourinho – The recent Smarty Jones Stakes winner. Remember last year when Bob Baffert didn’t have a 3 year-old that qualified for the Kentucky Derby? It’s not happening this year, his barn is loaded. Mourinho is Baffert’s next best Derby contender based upon performance thus far. His Next Start:  The Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 19th.

Career: 4 Starts 2-2-0-0   Grade 1 Stakes Wins: 0
Last 3 starts: 2nd–>2nd–>1st
Sire: Super Saver (2010 Kentucky Derby Winner)
Trainer: Bob Baffert (1997, 1998, 2002, 2015 Kentucky Derby winning trainer)
Jockey: Drayden Van Dyke
Best 1 1/16th Mile Time: N/A
Closing Speed Estimate: 36.03 mph
Career Best Speed Figures: 99 Beyer, 99 Brisnet, 107 Equibase

On the Docket…

My next blog will preview the 2018 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn scheduled for Monday February 19th.