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TimeformUS Kentucky Derby Prep Recap: Florida Derby & Louisiana Derby


The Triple Crown chase hit full stride this weekend with a pair of stakes races worth 100 points towards a berth in the 2014 Kentucky Derby starting gate for the winners.  A second-place finish in either race was worth 40 points, which will almost assuredly be enough to qualify for the Derby field as well.  The Florida Derby is a Grade 1 and was run at Gulfstream Park. The Louisiana Derby is a Grade 2 run at the Fair Grounds. 

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The Kentucky Derby is usually won with a TimeformUS speed figure of between 110 and 120.  Orb won in 2013 with a 111 in a race that featured an extremely fast pace.  It could be argued that the best horse did not win that day.  Several horses in the race were compromised by the pace and/or traffic problems.  Horses that failed to hit the board in the Derby but accomplished more later in the season included Oxbow, Will Take Charge, Palace Malice, and Goldencents.  
So far in 2014, the fastest horse at one mile and a sixteenth or longer has been Social Inclusion.  He romped in a Gulfstream Park allowance race and earned a 114 speed figure.  The best performance in a stakes race with the same distance qualification belongs to California Chrome.  He earned a 111 taking the G2 San Felipe S. at Santa Anita.

The G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park was an all-Florida affair, with all eight starters having last raced at one of the three thoroughbred tracks in the state.  The race included G2 Holy Bull S. winner Cairo Prince, the top two finishers from the G2 Fountain of Youth S., Wildcat Red and General a Rod, and G2 Swale S. winner Spot. However, it was first-time stakes-race participant Constitution who would steal the show and remain undefeated in three tries.  Just as in the Fountain of Youth, it was Wildcat Red and General a Rod setting the pace, but this time in much slower fractions.  While the four furlong call was run in a TimeformUS pace figure of 116 in the Fountain of Youth, the leader reached that point of the Florida Derby with only an 86.  Into the stretch, it looked like a repeat of the Fountain of Youth, but Constitution was able to squeeze through along the rail and get up by a neck over Wildcat Red.  That one did edge away from General a Rod late for a clear second, and Cairo Prince checked in a disappointing fourth while never posing a threat for the win. Constitution ran a career-best 101 TimeformUS speed figure.  It should be noted that the final-time figure for the race was a 105, but the slow pace reduces the overall number.  With lightly raced, improving horses like these, it is very possible they could be better than the number indicates. However, that is never a guarantee.

The G2 Louisiana Derby is the feature of the meet at the Fair Grounds and was held Saturday.  The field included the top three finishers from the G2 Risen Star S. as well as seven of the top eight.  In Trouble was shipped in off his very good third (off a lengthy layoff) in the G3 Gotham S. at Aqueduct.  There was a dramatic change in post positions for a couple of runners from the Risen Star, Albano and Vicar’s in Trouble, and it proved decisive.  Albano had drawn the rail in a field for 14 for the Risen Star and led all but the last jump, while Vicar’s in Trouble was marooned way outside.  For the Louisiana Derby, Vicar’s in Trouble drew the more comfortable six post while Albano was in the 10 hole. Vicar’s in Trouble took advantage and was able to secure the lead over longshot Louie’s Flower. He ran the first quarter mile in a pace figure of 110. Albano, meanwhile, was caught wide around the first turn and lost any chance before the backstretch was reached. Vicar’s in Trouble was briefly challenged by Risen Star winner Intense Holiday, but put that one away and drew off to a three-and-a-half-length score. Intense Holiday was second by a length and a half over late-running Commanding Curve. The race slowed gradually throughout, from the 110 after a quarter to a 100 at the finish.  Vicar’s in Trouble checked in with a 102 TimeformUS speed figure.  Intense Holiday was rated 97 and Commanding Curve 94.

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