Florida Derby Often a Barometer of Kentucky Success

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By Emily Shields

With the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) slated for March 28 at Gulfstream Park, horses like Tiz the Law, Ete Indien, Independence Hall, and Gouverneur Morris are slated to try to place themselves in the history books. Although the race is rich in prestige on its own, it also has a startling success rate in the Kentucky Derby.

15 times the winner of the Florida Derby has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby. Since 2000, it has happened six times, with the likes of Monarchos, Barbaro, Big Brown, Orb, Nyquist, and Always Dreaming all hailing from the Florida race.

The first time it happened was with Needles in 1956. Tim Tam in 1958 won the Florida Derby, Kentucky Derby, and Preakness Stakes. Carry Back and Northern Dancer both accomplished that same feat in 1961 and 1964, respectively. There was a break between Forward Pass in 1968 and Spectacular Bid in 1979, but Swale in 1984 and Unbridled in 1990 quickly followed. Thunder Gulch in 1995 kicked off the more modern results.

The race would have had yet another dual winner if Maximum Security, who won the Florida Derby last year and also took the Kentucky Derby, had not been disqualified in the Run for the Roses.

Dialed In, who won the race in 2010, finished second in the Kentucky Derby behind Super Saver.

The race also produces some top stallions. Constitution, who won in 2014, is the sire of leading Derby candidate Independence Hall. Scat Daddy, who won in 2007, became the sire of Triple Crown winner Justify. 2003’s winner Empire Maker became the sire of Pioneerof the Nile and grandsire of Grand Slam winner American Pharoah. Unbridled’s Song, who won in 1996 to claim Kentucky Derby favoritism, went on to sire grade 1 winners Unrivaled Belle, Will Take Charge, Unbridled Elaine, Octave, Midshipman, and Liam’s Map. Gulfstream Park offers ten different stakes races on Friday and Saturday. Watch and wager on all the action with TVG.

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