Florida Derby Favorites: Minutes after the field crossed the finish line in last weekend’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), and Wells Bayou had delivered a gate-to-wire victory to clinch a spot in the Kentucky Derby (G1) rescheduled for Sept. 5, the Fair Grounds canceled the final week of its meet.
Whether there remains a makeshift road to the Derby is questionable, since of greatest importance is how federal, state and local authorities decide to help halt the spread of the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) .
During the week, the Dubai World Cup was canceled, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct was canceled, and racing was suspended in Ireland. Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn Park and Santa Anita Park, though, are still racing.
With horse racing on, along with online wagering available from multiple outlets, we’ll keep the Derby Top 10 going.
Florida Derby Favorites: Quick Preview
Heading into Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1), Sackatoga Stables’ Tiz the Law is the 6-5 morning-line favorite and still ranked No. 1.
The Florida Derby matches Holy Bull (G3) winner Tiz the Law against the likes of No. 4 Ete Indien, impressive winner of the Fountain of Youth (G2) who ran second in the Holy Bull, three lengths behind Tiz the Law. Both races were at Gulfstream.
Others in the field include Independence Hall (9-2), 3-for-4 with a runner-up finish in the Sam F. Davis (G3) on Feb. 8; and a pair of Todd Pletcher trainees — Fountain of Youth runner-up Candy Tycoon (20-1), and Gouverneur Morris (8-1), coming off an allowance optional claiming win at Tampa Bay Downs on Feb. 14.
Wells Bayou, ridden perfectly by Florent Geroux, gives trainer Brad Cox what would be his first Kentucky Derby starter. The 3-year-old son of Lookin At Lucky dusted off the likes of Modernist (winner of a division of the Risen Star) and Lecomte (G3) winner Enforceable (second in the first division of the Risen Star) – who drops out of my Top 10 from No. 5. Wells Bayou checks in at No. 6.
The Florida Derby offers qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers. Tiz the Law is 14th on the Derby points leaderboard (22 points), Ete Indien is fourth (54), Candy Tycoon is 18th (20) and Independence Hall is 21st (14). The Derby field is limited to 20 starters.
After the Florida Derby, there are two scheduled Derby preps remaining from the original schedule — the Santa Anita Derby (G1) on April 4 and the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2.
From 2001-2019, the winner of the Florida Derby has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby six times. The list: Monarchos (2001); Barbaro (2006); Big Brown (2008); Orb (2013); Nyquist (2016); and Always Dreaming (2017). Plus, Maximum Security won last year’s Florida Derby, then finished first in the Kentucky Derby but was disqualified for interference and place 17th.
Florida Derby Favorites: Top 10
Here’s my Top 10:
1. Tiz the Law (Barclay Tagg, Manny Franco)
All set to take on 11 rivals, including Ete Indien, a colt he beat by three lengths in the Holy Bull at 1 1/16 miles … Worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.65 on March 22 at Palm Meadows … First or second is goal to clinch Derby spot … No. 14 on points leaderboard (22) … Next start: Florida Derby, Saturday … Derby Future Wager Odds: 7-1.
2. Authentic (Bob Baffert, Drayden Van Dyke)
Worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 at Santa Anita on March 21 … Won San Felipe gate-to-wire, dusting off three other Derby prospects … 3-for-3 and likely staying home for final prep … No. 3 on points leaderboard (60) … Next start: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, April 4 … Derby Future Wager Odds: 6-1.
3. Nadal (Bob Baffert, Joel Rosario)
Rebel winner has 3-for-3 record, and an already clinched spot in rescheduled Derby … No. 5 on points leaderboard (50) … Next start: TBD … Derby Future Wager Odds: 10-1.
4. Ete Indien (Patrick Biancone, Florent Geroux)
Showdown with Tiz the Law still on, although there will be no spectators, as with most tracks … Runner-up in Holy Bull and winner of Fountain of Youth by 8 ½ lengths … No. 4 on points leaderboard (54) … Next start: Florida Derby, Gulfstream, Saturday … Derby Future Wager Odds: 16-1.
5. Charlatan (Bob Baffert, Drayden Van Dyke)
Won allowance optional claiming race by 10 ¼ lengths at Santa Anita on March 14 … No firm decision on next start announced, but Arkansas Derby could seems logical choice .. Still has no qualifying points but the Derby is now Sept. 5 … Next start: TBD … Derby Future Wager Odds: 12-1.
6. Wells Bayou (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux)
Well deserved. Welcome to the Top 10 after impressive gate-to-wire, 1 ½-length win in Louisiana Derby … Clinched spot in Derby with 100 points for the win … Cox looking for his first Derby starter … Owners: Clint Gasaway, Lance Gasaway, Madaket Stables, Wonder Stables … Pedigree: Lookin At Lucky-Whispering Angel, by Hard Spun … No. 1 on points leaderboard (104) … Next start: TBD … Derby Future Wager Odds: 62-1.
7. Honor A.P. (John Shirreffs, Mike Smith)
Worked 5 furlongs in 1:00 at Santa Anita on March 22 … San Felipe runner-up to Authentic … Another shot at Authentic seems to be on the table. … No. 17 on points leaderboard (20) … Next start: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, April 4 … Derby Future Wager Odds: 14-1.
8. Mischevious Alex (John Servis, Kendrick Carmouche)
Worked 4 furlongs in 50.40 at Palm Meadows on March 21 … Winner of Swale and Gotham still on for another Derby prep, but who knows when … Record of 7-4-1-1 for $344,230 … No. 6 on points leaderboard (50) … Next start: TBD … Derby Future Wager Odds: (4-1, mutuel field).
9. Sole Volante (Patrick Biancone, Florent Geroux)
We’re keeping this guy around despite runner-up finish to 49-1 long shot King Guillermo in Tampa Bay Derby three weeks ago … No. 11 on points leaderboard (30) … Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, May 2 … Derby Future Wager Odds: 20-1.
10. Silver Prospector (Steve Asmussen, Ricardo Santana, Jr.)
I feel like one of Asmussen’s 3-year-olds is Derby bound, and still believe this is the one … A trouble-free trip is all he needs … Trouble in stretch cost him any chance in Rebel … Career record of 9-3-0-2 far from stellar .. No. 15 on points leaderboard (21) … Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, May 2 … Derby Future Wager Odds: 24-1.
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