Saturday’s Florida Derby is one of the last stops on the Road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby
Much like a lot of businesses in the United States, the number of horse racing tracks open for highly restrictive business continues to dwindle. At the moment, it looks like 11 courses continue to run with no fans in the stands and only essential personnel inside the facilities. Hopefully, horse racing tracks will go back to some sort of normalcy as the temperatures rise.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the guy we see on TV every day, says the coronavirus is likely to be seasonable. That’s good and bad news. Good that weather is on our side, bad for the folks south of the equator and bad that we could see a second wave in the fall. We should be more prepared by then.
In less serious business, Gulfstream Park could be running its last card of the current meet this Saturday, featuring the Florida Derby. It’s one of the last six US races remaining on the 2020 Road to the September Kentucky Derby. However, three qualifying races are on hold for the foreseeable future.
Aqueduct’s Wood Memorial (Queens, NY), Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes and Lexington Stakes (Lexington, KY)
Because of the uncertain schedule, trainers and owners have little choice but to enter their top horses into the remaining, for sure races. That makes for some competitive, deep fields. Gulfstream’s Saturday card has nine contests with at least $100,000 in prize money and 14 in total. Every single one of them has at least 10 horses in the field.
Florida Derby Betting Preview
The Florida Derby is no exception with a field of 12, including some of the pre-derby favorites. (The winner receives 100 points, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 to come home fourth.)
- TIZ THE LAW
- ETE INDIEN
- GOUVERNEUR MORRIS
- INDEPENDENCE HALL
Of the four BIG names, only ETE INDIEN (PP: 12 ML 4-1) is assured a spot in the 2020 Kentucky Derby. He earned 50-points winning the Grade II, Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. Lifting his total to 54. Based on the qualifying system’s 2013 inception, 38 points in the most a horse needed to make it to first leg of the Triple Crown.
Ete Indien winning Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth
ETE INDIEN was impressive scoring the Fountain of Youth crown. He shot out of the gates first and never saw the backside of another horse, pulling away by 8 ½ lengths. His fractions were a little slower than his second-place finish behind TIZ THE LAW (PP: 7 ML 6/5) in the Holy Bull Stakes; so, he’ll need to up his game to flip the finish on the morning-line favorite.
TIZ THE LAW has won three of his four starts by at least 3 lengths. He finished third in the lone miss, failing to fire late on a sloppy track despite being well positioned. He returned to winning form in his last outing with the top, last race speed figure for this crew, winning the Holy Bull. With 22 qualifying points, he’ll need finish no worse than third to safely make to Louisville, Kentucky for the first Saturday of May.
The Barclay Tagg trainee should find the track to his liking ad he is undefeated in three fast, dirt starts. Saturday’s Miami forecast calls for 82 degrees and all sun. The course should be to TIZ THE LAW’s liking and he is the one to beat.
INDEPENDENCE HALL (PP: 9 ML 9/2) is the oddsmaker’s third choice. Early on, he was one of the favorites to win the Derby as he won his first three starts with ease despite troubled trips. Horseplayers made him the heavy favorite in Tampa Bay Downs’, Grade III Sam F Davis Stakes.
Independence Hall in an E-Z Aqueduct win
Despite enjoying his first clean trip, he failed to hold onto a late lead, finishing a deeply disappointing second place. Since, his workouts have been strong and trainer Michael Trombetta is switching back to jockey Joel Rosario who rode INDEPENDENCE HALL in his winning debut. The jockey swap could help and Trombetta rebounds at 23% with beaten favorites.
GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (PP: 5 ML 8-1) is the last contestant with pre-race odds of 10-1. He’s been the public’s, post-time choice in his three starts, winning two and finishing third in the other. He’s improved every time he’s hit the track, running his best fractions in his last race and first since last October 5th.
He took a major step forward in his second career start and a similar boost in his second start off the bench could be good enough to wear the Florida Derby crown. With only four Derby points to date, he’ll need that bounce and a place finish or better to comfortably qualify for the Derby.
We think GOUVERNEUR MORRIS will give it a go but might be a touch behind the top three contenders.
As such, an exacta box using #7 TIZ THE LAW, #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL and #12 ETE INDIEN is our Florida Derby Play.
Florida Derby Pick
Stay healthy and let’s hope the weather and precautions brings life and horse racing back to normal sooner than later.