A strong and competitive field of nine Kentucky Derby hopefuls will vie in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. I will take a look at the field and give my analysis and selections below.

#1 STRIKE POWER – Mark Hennig trainee hasn’t done much wrong from three races at this meeting, finishing a good second in the Holy Bull (G2) in preparation of today’s event. Speightstown colt gets a good rail draw and could vie for the lead with a clean break under regular pilot Luis Saez.

#2 MILLIONAIRE RUNNER – Dark bay colt owns just a maiden win from 10 lifetime tries and simply looks overmatched against this cast.

#3 TIP SHEET – Colt was 20 lengths in arrears in the Holy Bull, though he did improve when an allowance third behind a pair of solid sophomores most recently. Stanley Gold trainee would still be a shocker today, though.

#4 PROMISES FULFILLED – Dale Romans trainee led at every call in an impressive Fountain of Youth (G2) conquer in his seasonal debut. Chestnut colt is three-for-four lifetime with obvious room for improvement second time back and a big race today will cement his status as a leading Kentucky Derby prospect. Robby Albarado takes over the reins and will likely send once again.

#5 STORM RUNNER – ‘Other’ Romans pupil was shut off along the rail early in the Fountain of Youth and deserves another chance with a clear voyage. Son of Get Stormy earned a hefty 102 BRIS Speed figure in a sharp allowance tally two back. His best puts him in the exotics picture.

#6 CATHOLIC BOY – Remsen (G2) winner should have gotten a lot out of his 2018 debut when second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) and the four morning drills in the interim have been strong. More Than Ready colt has never run a bad one and gets a rider change to Irad Ortiz Jr., who was up on Promises Fulfilled last time. Jonathan Thomas-trained Catholic Boy is a must use in my opinion.

#7 HOFBURG – Juddmonte homebred was a stylish maiden winner in a seasonal bow and makes the huge jump to Grade 1 competition. Son of Tapit is intriguing to me as conditioner Bill Mott is not the most aggressive conditioner when it comes to placing his horses. Colt smoked four furlongs in a bullet :48 3/5 at Payson Park on Monday.

#8 AUDIBLE – Smashing Holy Bull hero ran arguably the best prep race of the season to date and is the one to beat. Son of Into Mischief looks all set to deliver another huge performance with a strong morning work coming into his biggest test.

#9 MISSISSIPPI – Mark Casse trainee has finished second to a pair of nice ones in consecutive allowance races at this meeting. Well-meant son of Pioneerof the Nile gets a tough post while widest of all, but will don blinkers for the first time. Talented sort is not far behind the major players in the field and rates a top-three chance at a likely big number under Leparoux.

Analysis

The potential for a robust and contested pace exists with Strike Power, Promises Fulfilled and Storm Runner all likely to be charging out of the gate. Audible and Mississippi are also naturally swift and will be in within a length or two early.

Catholic Boy, the top closer in the field, could benefit most if the aforementioned quintet decides to get too aggressive into the first turn.

I still can’t look past the tour-de-force by Audible in the Holy Bull and have to give him top billing. Catholic Boy, a horse I have a lot of confidence in, will pose the biggest danger inside the final furlong.

Wager

$20 Exacta: 8-6 ($20)

$10 Exacta Box: 6-8 ($20)

$1 Superfecta: 6,8 with 6,8 with 4,7,9 with all ($36)