The Florida Derby will see 11 horses go to post Saturday in a race where serious Kentucky Derby contenders take to the track.
The race is the 14th on the good Gulfstream card and is set for a 3:30 p. PDT post.
There is a 170 Derby points available on a 100-40-20-10 breakdown. A win, or even a second-place will assure a spot in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.
There may be 11 horses in the field, but there but a handful of legitimate contenders. Let’s take at those!
Code of Honor (3/1, Shug McGaughey trainer, John Velazquez jockey): Brought home the win in the Fountain of Youth at almost 10-1, getting the perfect rating trip. Every reason to expect a big run today, but rest assured he won’t find Hidden Scroll going out and flying on the front end. For my money the Fountain of Youth was a dream trip, something that he is not going to see here in this race. He’s already in the Derby by virtue of the points earned in the FOY. He’s more likely to get a better pace to chase in Kentucky
Hidden Scroll (5/2, Bill Mott, Javier Castellano): I was the first to write after the Fountain of Youth that Hidden Scroll will learn from the race – only his second career start – and I was not going to abandon my fandom. He also bumped and stumbled in the FOY, giving him a horrible trip. The connections have worked on him rating and I think you will see a much more relaxed trip here and should be the one to beat.
Bourbon War (7/2, Mark Hennig, Irad Ortiz): Another that took full advantage of the fast fractions in the Fountain of Youth to close hard and finish second, less than a length back of Code of Honor. If you liked the horse before the FOY, then you should keep the faith here. But, just the same as Code of Honor, he won’t see the same kind of race here.
Harvey Wallbanger (15/1, Kenneth McPeak, Brian Hernandez): I sat at the Pleasanton OTB the day of the Holy Bull and gave out Harvey Wallbanger to everyone that would listen. He went off at almost 30-1 and those that did listen have since bought me more than a few beers following his win from off the pace. Still cannot figure how he got to be 30-1 that day. He now has two wins and three seconds in five career starts and will be moving in the lane again here. I’m just not sure he will get the pace to run at that he needs. He blistered a work on March 23 at four furlongs, showing he is ready for a big performance. At 15-1, this is a must play for your value horse.
Maximum Security (9/2, Jason Servis, Luis Saez): I normally would not even consider a horse that has not run in a graded race by this point in the season, but this one deserves at least a look. A perfect 3-for-3 mark over the Gulfstream track, the last by over 18 lengths at least says to take a gander. The race two back was a six-length win. Okay, so they were optional claimers, but they were still impressive wins. Red flag on this is the first route race for the horse and may turn out to be quite the sprinter, but he could make the race even more fun.
By Dennis Miller