Earlier this week, a few minutes before the draw for Saturday’s Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby, trainer Jonathan Thomas sat by himself in a corner. He wasn’t consulting a condition book. He wasn’t talking to a client. He wasn’t even looking at his phone. He was just… sitting there.
Though the Florida Derby was three days away, Thomas had his game face on. Intensity, thoughtfulness, concentration combined with a calm equanimity; if his eyes had been closed, one might have assumed that he was meditating.
On Saturday, Thomas, 37, will saddle Catholic Boy in the Florida Derby, hoping to earn enough qualifying points to run in the Kentucky Derby on May 6. The bay colt sits at #24 on the Derby points leaderboard with 14 points; a third-place finish with its 20 points might be enough to get him in. A 100-point win or 40-point runner-up position would ensure it.
First, though, is the draw, and Thomas was hoping for an inside post in the nine-horse field.
“I don’t relish being drawn real wide,” he said. “In an ideal world, we’d draw a lower post, which would allow the race to develop outside of us, and a ground-saving trip would be ideal.”
“But,” he added, “I don’t have any control over that.”
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