The 63rd running of the G1 Florida Derby closed with 94 nominations, but only nine were entered come time to draw post positions. With key contenders not entered, Union Rags and El Padrino look to face an easy race. Here is a look at why the field came up short:
Injuries: Algorithms, Out of Bounds, Spring Hill Farm, and Stephanoatsee
Off the trail: Discreet Dancer and Thunder Moccasin
Already raced this month: Ever So Lucky, Exfactor, Gemologist, and Went the Day Well
Different prep race: Alpha, Dullahan, Hansen, Howe Great, Lucky Chappy, My Adonis, and Prospective
Of the nine colts entered, Fort Loudon, Union Rags, Reveron, and El Padrino are the only four to win stakes races. Included in the remaining five entries are one non-winner and four winners of maiden races only. Not a very contentious field at all, though I have to give credit where credit is due. Take Charge Indy is Grade 3 placed and Bartolome is stakes placed.
So how does the race look to play out? Well, at first glance, your guess is as good as mine. In reviewing the past performances of the field, I found that many of these colts did not run the same race twice. Now, for the most part, a horse develops a running style and sticks to it. Sometimes there are exceptions (Think Hansen’s Gotham). With this field, however, very few of the entrants seem to have figured out exactly what their running style is. Take Charge Indy, for example, has shown speed, stalked the pace, and closed from off the pace. Talk about inconsistencies! After studying the past performances time and again, this is what I have come to expect. Bartolome, Fort Loudon, and Reveron will likely go out to the front to set the pace. Union Rags and El Padrino will go with the front-runners but sit just off the pace. Neck 'N Neck and Z Camelot will take up position at the back of the field. News Pending and Take Charge Indy are the wildcards. Both have run on the lead and off the pace. Depending on what trainers Dale Romans and Patrick Byrne feel will benefit their charges best, they could either be part of the pace or sit near the back with Neck N’ Neck and Z Camelot. Considering that we are talking about the main track at Gulfstream Park, I would wager that neither trainer will want their colt to be too far off the pace.
Overall, I do not expect any surprises when the field hits the wire. I expect Union Rags will win, but El Padrino (right) will not make it easy on him. Union Rags does not need for this to be an extremely tough race, but it will be good for him to have to work for the victory. There is no doubt that El Padrino is a gritty runner. In his only two losses, he just missed by less than a length. Two of his wins were done with ease, while his last victory was a gutsy score by a nose over Mark Valeski in the G2 Risen Star Stakes. He will be tough, but I have faith that Union Rags will get to the wire first.
My top three for this race: Union Rags-El Padrino-Reveron
Post time is at 5:40 p.m. EST. Also included on Saturday’s card are the Sir Shackleton Stakes, the G3 Rampart Stakes, the G3 Skip Away Stakes, the G3 Appleton Stakes, the G2 Gulfstream Oaks, and the G3 Orchid Stakes.