Brian’s Derby preps: The Florida Derby

The Florida Derby – Grade I, $750,000 – Gulfstream Park – 1 1/8 Miles, by Brian Nadeau

Not the deepest renewal of the Florida Derby, but that’s what happens when you have three big colts who will command all the attention. And this running takes on added significance when you factor that all three of the favorites–Quality Road, Dunkirk and Theregoesjojo–still need some graded stakes earnings to make the Kentucky Derby. In fact, Dunkirk has as much in graded stakes earnings as my horse does–and I don’t even own one. So, it’s go time to say the least. Let’s take a look!

Toby The Coal Man: He’s improved dramatically since Zito removed the blinkers and stretched him out two-back, but now he goes from a nose win over maidens to the Florida Derby. That kind of says it all right there, doesn’t it?

Quality Road: Simply blew the doors off the Fountain of Youth field and ran freaky fast (113 Beyer) while doing it. But the form of that race can be questioned a bit, as can this guy’s one over trip off a leader who quit badly in the lane. None of the other speed fired that day, and with the exception of Theregoesjojo, none of the other runners did either. Not to mention how speed favoring the track was and the fact that we’ve got that little two-turn thing to deal with, a tricky inside post and a pesky rabbit a few stalls over. Oh, and did I mention a bounce, too? Point being, there are some mighty big hurdles here. He deserves a ton of respect and he very well could shake off the rabbit turning for home and run off and hide, but there are a lot of questions to be
answered and you’ll get a paltry 7-5 to find out. No time like the present to try to beat him.

Casey’s On Call: Here’s one who might apply some early pressure to Quality Road, and that could spell doom in the long run. Actually didn’t run poorly in Palm Beach Stakes on turf and now he heads back to the main track. His sub :46 speed should have him in the mix early, but don’t look for him late.

Dunkirk: The 2009 buzz horse has done little wrong in his two lifetime starts and will take a ton of action at the window based on his pedigree (mom Secret Status won the Kentucky Oaks) and connections, not to mention the $3.7 million he cost at auction. But the guys he beat last time aren’t exactly household names and now he gets thrown in against a few experienced stakes runners. He does own a two-turn win over the track and at this 9-furlong distance, and that
should not be underestimated in here. You get $150,000 for running second, and that probably won’t be good enough to get in the big dance, so you can be darned sure every screw will be tightened to get a win on Saturday. He could find himself sitting a dream trip behind a very hot pace, which bodes well for his chances, but if he’s the second coming, why does he need a rabbit to do his dirty work? That’s a bit worrisome, as is the 8-5 price you’re probably looking at. And that’s not nearly good enough to get me interested in finding out if this guy can win the Florida Derby 63 days after making his career debut.

Sincero: Checked in third, 6 ½ lengths behind Dunkirk, in their last, while racing extremely wide around the first turn, so this guy is at least in the ballpark if he improves. He sure hasn’t ducked anyone in his three local starts this winter and will be a monster price on Saturday. At least a little interesting in the bottom of the exotics, especially if Quality Road gets a little late in deep stretch.

Theregoesjojo: Other than Quality Road, this colt was the only horse to do any serious running in the Fountain of Youth, and if you watch the replay, you’ll see that he ran right with the winner after his tardy start. That day he broke second-last, had to be nursed along early to keep contact with the field, and then ran about 4-5 lengths behind Quality Road the entire way around. And don’t forget, he already drilled that rival in their local debut back in January. But unlike Quality Road, this colt should enjoy a beautiful trip behind the first flight on Saturday. He’s another yet to go two turns, but with Quality Road and Dunkirk taking all the money, there’s a good chance you could sneak 7-2 out on this one, which doesn’t seem so bad, does it? He also gets a nice stalking post that should enable him to see what the other two big guys are up to. The call to post the mild upset.

Danger To Society: So are you running or not? Reportedly he wouldn’t be entered if the three favorites start, but here he is nonetheless. About 10 weeks ago you would have thought he’d be one of the ones in here, but quite a bit of bloom came off the rose after that dull Holy Bull try. We know the wonders that Dutrow can produce, but this one would still be a big shock.

Europe: So for $3.7 million you get one of the favorites, and for $2.6 million you get his rabbit. Seems logical, right? This guy has one mission–keep Quality Road entertained early before backing out of it. And judging by their respective post positions, he should have no trouble doing that for about 4 furlongs before relenting. Bugs Bunny would be proud.

Stately Character: Chased a decent Pletcher prospect home last time (Al Khali is heading to the Illinois Derby), but that race was timed with a sun dial, so let’s not go too overboard. He also got no help at the draw. One-run type has the superfecta as a logical ceiling.

Note from Teresa: Don’t forget to active your Road to the Roses horses!

5 thoughts on “Brian’s Derby preps: The Florida Derby

  1. TZ: I haven’t noticed you posting on Brian’s previews before the races have actually been run, and I’d love to see that sort of debate in the comments. Have you thought about weighing in with your insights before the horses have left the starting gate? Some healthy disagreement ahead of time would be a great addition. Thanks for reading–

  2. I’m pretty impressed that ThoroughbredZone was able to commit not one, but two, of the most eqregious sins of racetrack etiquette in his two posts here. Knocking the opinions of others AFTER races are run and then bragging about his ( I am assuming TZ is male ) own opinion. Kudos to you. It’s hard to expose yourself this massively in such few words.Here’s an idea RacingGod, why not argue with Brian before the races are run, and share your thoughts on the races. Hopefully they will be more enlightening than ” I like Quality Road ” who even Stevie Wonder saw was a KY Derby hopeful after his 100 Beyer figure debut. Show us you are as insightful as you claim to be, and not as inciteful as you appear to be.

  3. TZ, I’ve kind of ignored your comments if for no other reason than they are juvenile and simply uncalled for, but since others have responded for me I guess I’ll join in as well.First off, I’ll be the first person to admit I’m not really up to speed on what it means to be a “blogger.” Teresa has been kind enough to include me on her great site and I’ve obliged by doing my best to post informative and detailed analysis of the races, and make a pick all while trying to give the viewers out there some alternatives to the obvious. Maybe part of being a “blogger” is to post lewd and uncalled for comments after the fact on someone else’s website. I guess I missed that memo. You chided me repeatedly AFTER the race for picking Flying Pegasus to win the Louisiana Derby. The racetrack looked like the Mississippi River that day, and exactly one horse handled it…yet you felt the need to bring Flying Pegasus to my attention on more than one occasion and on more than one post that had nothing to do with that race. I think that right there tells of your intention and motives.I’m not here to pat myself on the back for picking 6-5 shots that have a ton of questions marks. And more often than not, I won’t be picking 6-5 shots that are extreme underlays. I’m going to make a pick based on value first and foremost. The game is simply too hard to beat by telling everyone “the favorite is going to win” every week. And I’m also not on your website asking you how Asiatic Boy did in the Dubai World Cup. How “rock-solid” was that pick? I’ve never considered myself a trend-setter, otherwise I might have posted a comment on your site.I’ve scanned your site-it’s pretty cool and I commend you for it…But I’ve seen you make two official picks: Asiatic Boy (about 5-2) and Quality Road (6-5). You wouldn’t even go on record to make a pick in the FOY because it was too tough a race. So I’m not really sure how you can get on someone else’s site and bust my chops when I’m making a pick in EVERY race while you are only making a pick in races where you like the favorite. All two of them.What I am here to do is give some analysis on the races and make a pick based on several different factors-price being one of the most important. While you were busy patting yourself on the back for picking a 6-5 shot in Quality Road to win the Florida Derby did you ever once mention that there were seven dirt races on Saturday at Gulfstream and ALL SEVEN were won by horse within one length at the pace call? Instead you chose to say that the argument about a speed bias “falls short to an extent, considering everyone ran over the surface and Quality Road is a very fast horse.” So you essentially dispelled the myth of a speed bias by defining the term speed bias. I’d much rather be wrong and give Teresa’s loyal readers the whole story, than be right for picking a 6-5 and lead them on believe the win was attained through fair circumstances. Anyone who watched the Florida Derby on Saturday and didn’t think Dunkirk was the best horse just wasn’t paying attention.Again, I’m not here to get in an argument with you and I almost feel annoyed with myself for even being bated into a response. But others out there took up for me, so I might as well show my appreciation to them and respond on my own. Like I said, this is Teresa’s ballgame and I’m extremely happy and excited to be playing in it. I’d love to get into some good, solid conversation with you BEFORE any race. My handicapping analysis is posted well before the races are being run and I’m on the site quite a bit looking and hoping for some comments and discussion. Otherwise, I think I speak for most on here when I say there’s just no need to have to read one line comments after the fact. As I said to Teresa the other day, we’re all on here trying to promote the game and the sport we love. It’s sad that in and of itself never seems to be good enough.

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