Saturday’s behemoth Florida Derby (G1) card at Gulfstream Park has plenty to offer over the course of 14 races, including the mandatory dispersal of the Rainbow 6 jackpot carryover. Before diving into that wager, a couple spot plays earlier in the card.
Race 4 — Cutler Bay S.
I think #10 Decorated Invader has the potential to be a leading player in the 3-year-old turf division this year, especially after a less-than-ideal trip in last fall’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1). However, as a trip-dependent horse, he might not be all that attractive at short odds.
#11 MR. HUSTLE (12-1) is intriguing for trainer Roger Attfield and jockey Paco Lopez, a potent combo here and elsewhere. The undefeated gelding sped his way to three victories at Woodbine last summer around one turn, and could play “catch me if you can” in this one-mile test. Given his latter two runs, rating and pouncing also seems within his scope depending on how the start goes. Seemingly capable at a price.
Race 6 — Hal’s Hope (G3)
#8 SIR ANTHONY (15-1) has run some of his best races around two turns over this track, upsetting Florida Derby winner Audible in the 2018 Harlan’s Holiday (G3) and narrowly missing to Marconi in the Skip Away S. on the Florida Derby weekend a year ago. Perhaps a bit over the top last fall after a peak effort in the Prairie Meadows Cornhusker H. (G3), but has the potential to fire fresh at double-digit odds.
Race 9 — Sand Springs S.
#2 ZOFELLE (9-2) will be flying late, a tactic blunted at Fair Grounds last time over a course playing kindly to speed. #12 VALEDICTORIAN (8-1) won this race last year and was probably a bit short when a weakening sixth in the Honey Fox (G3) last month to the ascending #7 GETMOTHERAROSE (6-1).
Race 10 — Orchid (G3)
#6 MEAN MARY (3-1) looms a threat to wire this field going a furlong shorter than in the La Prevoyante (G3) two months ago, but can’t easily dismiss the come-backing #5 GENTLE RULER (7-2), one of the best long-distance turf mares on this side of the country last season. #7 CAP DE CREUS (10-1), who narrowly missed to Mean Mary in an allowance in December, gets the distance she’s perhaps been needing all meet. Half to G1 winner Seek Again ran close to a G2-placed mare the one time she tried 11 panels.
Race 11 — Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2)
Likely favorite #9 Tonalist’s Shape bred top and bottom to successfully stretch out, but #5 SPICE IS NICE (3-1) figures to take a huge step forward off her second to that rival in the one-turn Davona Dale (G2) last month. Daughter of Curlin figures to come on greatly from that run and we’ll take a stand with here in this competitive spot.
Race 12 — Pan American (G2)
There’s not a lot of pace in this 12-furlong test, but the veteran #9 ZULU ALPHA (3-5) has emerged as the nation’s best turf male this winter and presumably will prove too good for these again.
Race 13 — Appleton (G3)
This grass affair for older males is not so clear cut, so we’ll go four-deep. #10 SOMBEYAY (7-2) and #1 ENGLISH BEE (8-1) were separated by a half-length in the Canadian Turf (G3) last time and figure right back. #3 MARCH TO ARCH (8-1) is a generally reliable contender, though worry the Tampa Bay (G3) was not that strong of a race. In addition to Sombeyay, Pletcher also sends out #7 SOCIAL PARANOIA (10-1), another dependable sort whose best days lie ahead.
Race 14 — Florida Derby
#7 TIZ THE LAW (6-5) and #12 ETE INDIEN (4-1) have demonstrated their superiority among South Florida-based classic prospects this winter and hard to see both being knocked off here, though giving #9 INDEPENDENCE HALL (9-2) another chance to see what he can do around two turns.
The 20-cent ticket:
- 2,7,12 with 5,6,7 with 5 with 9 with 1,3,7,10 with 7,9,12 = $21.60.