By Gene Kershner
Has there been a stranger week than this past one? First, a No. 11 seed (VCU) advances to the Final Four. Next, an Egyptian cobra escapes from the Bronx Zoo. To top it off, the Maryland Jockey Club announces its mascot for the Preakness is a centaur named Kegasus. Does this mean we’re in store for another Derby trail upset again this weekend?
The Derby trail returns to Florida on Sunday afternoon with the $1 million Florida Derby to be run 1 1/8 miles over the Gulfstream Park strip. The race is loaded with talent with Fountain of Youth winner Soldat, Holy Bull winner Dialed In, Nashua/Remsen winner To Honor and Serve and Gotham winner Stay Thirsty. Throw in allowance winners Flashpoint and Arch Traveler both looking for graded stakes earnings and a trip to Louisville.
The Florida Derby has long been a key prep race on the road to the roses. Just in the past five years, two Kentucky Derby winners, Barbaro (2006) and Big Brown (2008). Last year’s winner, Ice Box, finished a game second on the First Saturday in May, and without a difficult trip, may have been wearing the roses in the winner’s circle.
While last weekend’s prep races were rather uninspiring, over the next three weeks it is much more likely that you’ll see this year’s Derby champ running in the Florida Derby, the Wood Memorial or the Santa Anita Derby.
When we reviewed the Fountain of Youth last month, we thought that 2-To Honor and Serve needed a race under him, and he finished third behind 1-Soldat and Gourmet Dinner. The Bernardini colt has been working out extremely well and should improve off his last effort. He should have some value if the betting public uses his last race as an indication of how he will run on Sunday.
With the speed involved in the race, where 8-Flashpoint most likely will go to the lead from the outside post, the pace scenario may work right into the wheelhouse of 7-Dialed In. A true closer, look for Dialed In to be flying late, and picking up the pieces if the race falls apart. Nick Zito ran him in an allowance race off the Holy Bull, so he comes in third off the layoff off a bullet four-furlong workout at Palm Meadows.
The Gotham winner 6-Stay Thirsty enters for trainer Todd Pletcher. Uncle Mo’s stable mate was forced to ship down to Florida with Mo scheduled to run in next weekend’s Wood Memorial on Aqueduct’s main track. The Gotham field certainly wasn’t as strong as this race, so we’ll only use Stay Thirsty underneath in exotics.
We see a late closing Dialed In overtaking To Honor and Serve at the wire as the favored Soldat tires in the stretch.
Post Time selections:
1st – Dialed In
2nd – To Honor and Serve
3rd – Soldat
4th – Stay Thirsty
Good luck and let’s cash some tickets!
Gene Kershner is a Buffalo-based turf writer, handicapper and member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance who blogs at equispace.blogspot.com and tweets @EquiSpace.
taggedBoxing | Horse Racing