Recent trends in the Florida Derby

March 29th, 2022

The history of the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) is replete with horses of the highest class, and the Gulfstream Park fixture has been a strong harbinger for success in the Kentucky Derby (G1) for decades. Here are several trends worth noting about the nine-furlong event since 2010.

Favorites have not done as well as expected

Although Gulfstream once had a reputation as a chalk player's dream and with a surface highly favorable to speed, the recent history of the Florida Derby itself has not been kind to post-time favorites.

In the 12 editions of the race since 2010, only two favorites have won. That pair were Audible (2018, 8-5) and Tiz the Law (2020, 7-5). Indeed, the three favorites during that span that started as odds-on choices finished third or worse.

Fountain of Youth winners are a bet-against

The 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth (G2) is the leading local prep for the Florida Derby, but its winners since 2010 have been a huge bet-against in the Florida Derby.

Of the 11 Fountain of Youth winners to contest the Florida Derby during the span in question, only Orb (2013) pulled off the double. Fountain of Youth winners have run second once, third five times, and finished out of the money four times in their other Florida Derby attempts.

Huge longshots in the exacta

For some reason, the runner-up spot in the Florida Derby since 2010 has been a magnet for some significant pari-mutuel outsiders, thus producing boxcar prices in exotics. Examples include Pleasant Prince (2010, 29-1), Shackleford (2011, 68-1), Reveron (2012, 31-1), Majesto (2016, 21-1), Bodexpress (2019, 71-1), and Shivaree (2020, 80-1). 

While not as extreme, even 2021 runner-up Soup and Sandwich was a double-digit price at 12-1.