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Kentucky Derby Trends: Florida vs. Louisiana

Welcome to the major prep season on the trail to the 2013 Kentucky DerbyOn Saturday the countdown to the first Saturday May reaches 5 more weeks until we crown the winner of the 139th edition. So, things will be heating up from here and to spice it up even more, the long awaited monster point season begins this weekend as well (100-40-20-10). Over the next couple of weeks the points that are up for grabs and eventually awarded will also bring an answer to the lingering question we’ve all been waiting for; how many points will it take to make the starting gate?
But, before we speculate any further on that pressing query let’s look at another subject that revolves around the two legendary preps that are set to kick things off this weekend; the Florida and Louisiana Derby. Both of these well known preps have a long history on the Kentucky Derby trail but the difference between them producing a Kentucky Derby winner is like comparing Secretariat to the rest of the field in the Belmont Stakes. The margin is so great that it begs the question: how will this trend begin to reverse and when will the other prep start catching up?
Florida Derby – Gulfstream Park

We begin with the runaway winner in this match-up. Inaugurated in 1952 the Florida Derby has become the most well known Kentucky Derby prep and the most influential in modern racing. Because it has produced so many Kentucky Derby winners it can be validated as the most prominent prep of all time. Here are the numbers to support it.
Toasting its 61st anniversary last spring the Florida Derby has produced a total of 21 Kentucky Derby winners. That’s basically an average of once every three years that a Florida Derby horse will wear the roses. The list does not include a Triple Crown winner but without further ado here they are:
Big Brown ’08, Barbaro ’06, Monarchos ’01, Thunder Gulch ’95, Go for Gin ’94, Strike the Gold ’91, Unbridled ’90, Swale ’84, Pleasant Colony ’81, Spectacular Bid ’79, Foolish Pleasure ’75, Cannonade ’74, Forward Pass ’68, Kauai King ’66, Northern Dancer ’64, Carry Black ’61, Venetian Way ’60, Tim Tam ’58, Iron Liege ’57, Needles ’56, Dark Star ‘53
Of these illustrious champions a total of 12 of them also won the Florida Derby. So, if you ever wonder why the Florida Derby winner tends to get so much attention then this might be the reason why. Pushing the hype even more is that the last four Kentucky Derby  winners from this prep happen to be examples of that stat. Therefore, don't be surprised if the winner this weekend is talked about over and over again through out the next 5 weeks. 
As you can clearly see, the Florida Derby is very successful. If you ask me why the race has enjoyed so much such success I point to one of the biggest things often left out when talking about the most successful horses or stakes races; who the winners beat or in the case of Florida Derby non-winners but eventual Kentucky Derby champions, who they raced against.
The one thing about the Florida Derby that is absolute year in and year out is that the field is always top class. In my opinion that is the key contributor for the Florida Derby’s success. It takes a good horse to win this stakes or at least finish in the top three so like in everything sports, when you play or race against some of the best you're in position to become the best. The Florida Derby has a track record of making it's contenders better and more prepared for the main event and that it hard to argue but also hard to find in Louisiana. 
Louisiana Derby – Fair Grounds
While this race goes so much farther back in horse racing history the stats are not as impressive. Dating back to 1894 only three Louisiana Derby horses have ever gone on to claim the roses at Churchill Downs. I could look at that stat fifty different times and I could never interpret it any differently. I’m always shocked at how low that number is and I’m always curious as to when it will happen again.
Funny Cide ’03, Grindstone ’96 and Black Gold ’24. Of the three Black Gold and Grindstone actually won both the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby while Funny Cide finished 2nd.
Now, the good news is that the seventy one year drought was broken by Grindstone in 1996 and the gap between the next was only six years. So, the Louisiana Derby is heading in the right direction. A little bit more about the race that proves it’s come a long way in recent years is that since Churchill Downs took over the Fair Grounds in 2004, they have since helped promote the Louisiana Derby to becoming a more attractive prep.
In 2009, the decision was made that Louisiana Derby would be moved from eight weeks prior to the derby to five. That verdict also included a change in distance (back to 1 1/8 miles for the first time since 1988) and that the purse would increase. In 2011, the Louisiana Derby reached a milestone when it became the very first that was raced at a purse of $1 Million.
The purse has held steady and now that the race has been included along with the other major preps in the new qualification system (170 points) brighter days and more Kentucky Derby winners may be ahead. So, gone are the days when this race was just a prep for the major prep races. It should be noted that Gindstone moved on from Louisiana to finish 2nd in the Arkansas Derby and Funny Cide moved north to Aqueduct to also finish 2nd in the Wood Memorial.
But how soon should we expect for the Louisiana Derby to make some more noise? I think that the better days could be as soon as 2013, but that is up for debate.
Leading the probable Kentucky Derby winners from the Louisiana Derby entries is Revolutionary followed in no particular order by Titletown Five, Code West or Proud Strike. But, when you stack these guys against the Florida Derby entries, Orb, Itsmyluckyday and Shanghai Bobby, it looks like the Florida Derby has much better odds at maintaining the upper hand in the 139th Kentucky Derby.


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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby Trends: Florida vs. Louisiana...

Carry Back also after winning the Flamingo, Florida Derby and I think the Everglades came up north and finished second in the Wood losing I believe to Globemaster by a neck.
CFC. I think you make a very valid point. Also many of the horses who won the Florida Derby and then the KD also won races at Hialeah, including the Flamingo, Bahamas, Everglades etc.
Put this comment on the wrong thread. Florida Derby has produced 12 winners of the KD, according to Andy The Wood has produced 11 winners of the wood and KD. The Santa Anita derby has produced 9 winners who went on to win the KD: Hill Gail, Determine, Swaps, Lucky Debonair, Majestic Prince, Affirmed, Winning Colors, Sunday Silence, I'll Have Another.
Man if this was the 60's- 70's I would say Florida. The amount of great horses who won the Flamingo stakes/Derby double that went on to win or run a close second(Alydar) in the Kentucky Derby is quite impressive.
I believe one trend that might fall to the wayside, is the fact that the Florida Derby used to be spaced out so far, that they would come back in the Bluegrass. Since Stronach has moved it to five weeks out, there might be a falloff. Barbaro and Big Brown defied that logic, but, it might be a deterrent in the future? I remember in 2005, when Bandini & Closing Argument(who had been wintering in Florida) scratched out of the Florida Derby, and opted the following week for the Bluegrass Stakes. Bandini won that race and Closing Argument came in third. Closing Argument would run 2nd in the Ky Derby @ 70-1, and Bandini was up the track. Point is, those horses connections went another path to the Derby. I would say that this year's field, though, looks very powerful. Maybe the point system can be thanked?
Weird that Florida Derby runners have done so well considering how many people criticize horses' form for dropping off in general once they leave GP for the winter.
The Florida derby and the Wood some very strong horses running. Although I don't like Orb to win the Florida Derby I do like in the KD at the top spot, if he goes, which is still in question, according to the trainer he doesn't to win Saturday but he does have to run a good race for him to be entered in the KD.
Secretariot is in no doubt a wonder horse, but his progney is total failure! his blood in future mare or sire has no impact? he may be great horse but valueless??
i completely disagree, rather say that thetre is a big impact in Santa Anita Derby and Florida Derby as far as Kentucky derby winners, all those big kentucky derby winners came from Sanata Anita Derby, like A.P. INDY,SUNDAY SILENCE, FUSHIACHO PHEGIUS, I'LLHAVEANOTHER etc.etc. this year LOUISIANA DERBY'S field is very weak, the horse emerging as a winner from it has no chance to beat horse either from Florida Derby or Sanata Anita Derby?
IMO the Florida Derby is the best prep for finding the next Derby winner as the race has been around since the 1950's and has produced in its winners the same or more of a race like the Wood which has been around since what about 1925. And that isn't taking into account the several second and third finishers who went on to Derby glory like Iron Liege, Venetian Way, Cannonade etc.
Also horses like Kaui King who was unplaced in the FD won the KD.
Andy. I come up with 11 or 12 winners of the Florida Derby winning the KD. They are: Needles 1956; Tim Tam 1958; Carry Back 1961; 1964 Northern Dancer; 1968 Forward Pass; 1979 Spectacular Bid, 1984 Swale, 1990 Unbridled, 1995 Thunder Gulch, 2006 BArbaro, 2001 Monarchos, and Big Brown. 11 or 12 depending on how you count Forward Pass. Also quite a number who finished second or third won the Derby.
Eleven winners of the Wood have gone on to win the Derby.
Yeah, just racing in the FLA Derby generally provides an edge over any contender coming out of the LA Derby. When compared to the Wood, the FLA Derby still has a slight advantage but the Wood is always good enough to keep a close eye on the winner and the results.
And how does this compare to New York?
So not necessarily winning the FLA derby but just participating in it, right?
Betting wise, I will take the Louisiana Derby. Chances of seeing a Kentucky Derby winner ... it looks like Florida has the upper hand once again.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, Ky., on Derby Day.

Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

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