$750k Florida Derby (G1)

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By Tom Quigley

$750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park

Race 14 (Saturday, March 28, 2020: 6:36 p.m./ET; 3:36 p.m./PT)
Mile and an eighth on the main track (three-year-olds)

In two of the last four years, the winner of the Florida Derby (G1) has gone on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). This year, a full field of 12 tries to enter the history books, with the winner guaranteed enough qualifying points to earn a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on the first Saturday in September. Is there a Kentucky Derby (G1) winner in this group?

#1 AS SEEN ON TV finished eight lengths behind #12 ETE INDIEN in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and lost the photo for second to #10 CANDY TYCOON. Before the Fountain of Youth (G2), he finished a head behind the winner of the Mucho Macho Man Stakes over this track. May be a notch or two below the best signed on.

#2 SHIVAREE takes the blinkers off and tries routing for the first time. Two starts back, he ran over this track and finished behind next out Gotham (G3) winner MISCHIEVOUS ALEX in the Swale (G3). Most recently, he lost the Hutchinson Stakes sprinting six furlongs as the 4/5 favorite. Asking this guy to route and beat horses like #7 TIZ THE LAW and #12 ETE INDIEN, who have proven experience going two turns, is a tough task.

#3 DISC JOCKEY is another who makes his career debut going two turns. Most recently, this son of BODEMEISTER had to settle for second (at odds of 3/5) in the seven-furlong American Fabius Stakes. Whether he is good enough to beat the best in this race is a major question mark.

#4 SORIOS broke his maiden in the Smooth Air Stakes in November and hasn’t been seen since. Trainer Gustavo Delgado hits at 25% with his trainees making their first start off a vacation between 61-180 days. Needs to run a lot faster to beat the top contenders.

#5 GOUVERNEUR MORRIS is one of three runners in this race sired by CONSTITUTION that began his career with an impressive maiden win at Saratoga. He followed his career debut triumph with a runner up finish in the Breeders Futurity (G1) behind impressive two-year-old MAXFIELD. Most recently, this grey Pletcher-trained colt went off at 1/2 in his three-year-old debut and easily disposed of an allowance group at Tampa Bay Downs. He should be primed for his best run against this tougher group while making his second start off a layoff.

#6 AJAAWEED was well beaten in the Sam F. Davis (G3), finishing third and beaten 13 lengths behind the winner and runner up finisher #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL. More inclined to use him underneath in exotics if used anywhere at all.

#7 TIZ THE LAW easily won the Holy Bull (G3) while defeating #12 ETE INDIEN coming off a two-month break. The Champagne (G1) winner of 2019 has reportedly been working well in preparation for his return to the races. The one to beat.

#8 MY FIRST GRAMMY has failed to be competitive in three separate maiden special weight races. Hard to imagine he can beat a large field of this caliber.

#9 INDEPENDENCE HALL suffered his first career loss in the Sam F. Davis (G3) on February 8, when beaten as the 3/5 favorite by SOLO VOLENTE, who returned to run poorly in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Before the Sam F. Davis (G3), he won the one-turn mile Nashua (G3) by a dozen lengths while earning a 101 Beyer Speed figure and was an easy victory of the Jerome Stakes at the same distance. Joel Rosario rides for the first time.

#10 CANDY TYCOON was no match for #10 ETE INDIEN but finished ahead of everybody else in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Son of TWIRLING CANDY has always been well regarded and is the second Todd Pletcher entrant in the race.

#11 SASSY BUT SMART broke his maiden in a Florida-bred maiden special weight race on grass two starts ago and returned to run fourth in the Palm Beach (G3) on grass. His only career dirt race resulted in a third-place finish sprinting.

#12 ETE INDIEN ran second in the Holy Bull (G3), finishing three lengths behind #7 TIZ THE LAW, but came back to romp in the Fountain of Youth (G2), defeating #10 CANDY TYCOON and #1 AS SEEN ON TV by eight lengths. He certainly ran better in the Fountain of Youth (G2) than he did in the Holy Bull (G3), and he might be able to turn the tables on #7 TIZ THE LAW if he can repeat his most recent performance.

#13 ROGUE ELEMENT is on the also eligible list.

1. #7 TIZ THE LAW - Hasn’t done much wrong.
2. #12 ETE INDIEN - The one with the most likely chance to run down the
top pick.
3. #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL - Best of the rest.


I’ll key my top pick over my other three selections in exactas and trifectas and play my remaining bankroll on my longshot value play to win.

BANKROLL PLAY ($50 Budget)

$7 Exacta: #6 TIZ THE LAW over #5 GOUVERNOR MORRIS and #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL and #12 ETE INDIEN ($21).
$4 Trifecta: #6 TIZ THE LAW over #5 GOUVERNOR MORRIS and #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL and #12 ETE INDIEN ($24).

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