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Zipse At The Track

The Florida Derby is Going to Rock!

It may still be 12 days away, but my anticipation for the Florida Derby is already going harder than a two-minute lick. Whether or not the eventual winner of the 2013 Kentucky Derby comes out of next Saturday’s big race, I see this one as the most interesting of all the preps leading to Louisville. With so many intriguing prospects spread out around the nation, you might question why I’m willing to single out the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park affair as the Derby trail’s best. My answer is simple … Itsmyluckyday, Orb, and Shanghai Bobby. The Florida Derby’s big three are all the real deal, and unlike many of the well-liked prospects floating around right now, I have little doubt that all three will come to Gulfstream ready to fire their best.
Make no bones about it; Itsmyluckyday is the horse to beat in the Florida Derby. The colt I previously thought compared very closely to his sire, Lawyer Ron, at this early stage of the game, has me now thinking that his big success might come even sooner than the 2007 champion older male. I have been nothing but impressed with the way he has been working over the deep main track at Calder since his big win in the Holy Bull Stakes. Like a tiger in the weeds, I suspect the Eddie Plesa trained runner may be ready to pounce from the relative anonymity of his home base. As far as his chances on March 30, it’s hard to ignore his two sterling races already run over the Gulfstream Park strip. Not only do his easy victory in the Gulfstream Park Derby, and his strong win over Shanghai Bobby, already show his fondness for the Florida Derby track, but they also compare favorably speed wise to any of the other Kentucky Derby preps run so far this year. I still wonder if he is a true ten furlong at Churchill type, but try to beat him in the next one at your own risk.
Itsmyluckyday might be the most likely winner of the Florida Derby, but Orb is the horse I want to see win. It’s been a long time since Shug McGaughey had a horse with a real shot at Louisville, but I think this one will change all that. A good looking son of top sire, Malibu Moon, Orb will streak into next week’s showdown on a real roll. After not finding much success around one-turn and against a string of well-regarded horses, Orb began to turn things around late last year. You’ll notice that in his maiden breaking performance at Aqueduct on November 24, Revolutionary was one of the horses he left behind. I really liked his next race, where in his first two-turn venture, he made a big move to put away an allowance race at Gulfstream by the time they hit the eighth pole. Finally, Orb showed his class by making a sustained run into fast fractions to swoop by the previously undefeated Violence in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes last month. Like Itsmyluckyday, he will enter next Saturday’s race off two sharp wins at Gulfstream, but unlike that one, I don’t feel like he needs to win the Florida Derby in order to have a big shot in the Run for the Roses.
In 2013, Shanghai Bobby was the king of the world. Undefeated in five starts, the Eclipse Award winning son of Harlan’s Holiday won huge juvenile races at Saratoga, Belmont and cross-country at Santa Anita. Perhaps he did not run particularly fast coming down the stretch in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, but for a horse that looked cooked, he demonstrated strong courage to clinch the championship. Expected to win his only race so far this season, he ran into Itsmyluckyday the Holy Bull, and came home two lengths short. That coupled with the fact that so many believe that the 1 ¼ miles of the Derby will not be his bag, and the champ has dropped down many a list. I know that I am as guilty of this as most, but what I also know is that the 2012 juvenile champion ran an excellent race in the Holy Bull. He finished gamely to a horse breaking the track record, and don’t forget that the Starlight Racing runner finished at least 11 ½ lengths ahead of the rest of the big field. Bobby may not be the hot horse right now, but underestimating him could be a large mistake.


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Older Comments about The Florida Derby is Going to Rock!...

Thanks, Sysonby. I love horse racing now, and I know there are problems. I have a gap of lost time from 1980-1998, and it seems that those years are when changes in stakes distances, number of starts, medications allowed occurred.
Big LIKE to Mary Z!
Maybe I'm ever the optimist, but I think things can improve. Little by little, and I wish the progress was much more rapid, the ridding of race day meds and education of the meds known long term effects and research into unknown long term effects, as opposed to complacency, saying that the drugs such as Salix aren't that bad("every one's using them" type of reasoning) positive changes are beginning.
Mary I would love to be TODAY as unblemished in my outlook on the long term status of this game....I am just happy to have been in it and around it when it was tremendous......I doubt it ever will be again, at least in North America....I only hope that my logic is wrong.
One has to realize that the game was run by breeders who have now snuggled up to the casino idiots....Players are never considered, the riff raff? no way they should be happy to take anything thrown their way, THEY THINK
No, bumper stickers would not have an impact, just a sentiment. I actually expected that there would be a lawsuit over the exclusion of the Illinois Derby, due to the race basically being de-valued.
Bumpere sticker and what, let all 5 people in your community who even understand things in on your wishes?
I agree, BCJ= win and your in, and yes "Free the Illinois Derby"...We need bumper stickers
buds, That so needs to be tweaked next year. And, Free The Illinois Derby.
Itsmy luckyday is fast enough to win a wildcard race if he has a bad trip in the florida derby. He could go breeze in the 8f derby trial and probably win the 20 points (which for some idiotic reason is worth more than the BC juvinile
That was CC over Bode by 3/4, but it doesn't really matter-to the point being made which was a good one, dipak. Right, Bode seemed to emerge late. Last year, I tossed the Florida Derby horses from my top Kentucky Derby picks. Just didn't like how they ran, including the winner, TCI. I agree, with not underestimating Shanghai Bobby in this race, not that he's my winner.
SB 2nd start off a tightner. I like
People have a hard time elucidating an EVOLVING three year old, i.e. War Emblem, Unbridled, Giacomo, etc...Handicapping look for SIMILARITY when life is acutally all about CHANGE......The changing, improving animals are the ones that do better over time.
this contest, for years, has been at, or very near the top, of the heap for Derby preps
Just about every Derby prep race this year I watched, the favorite hasn't won, just saying.
Your last sentence says it all....
I like all three of the horses. I think Bobby is going to show up BIG!
This is IMLD's race. I doubt there is anyone who can beat him at Gulfstream right now. I'm expecting a spectacular performance
If Shanghai Bobby can get the distance and a big if it is, the whole picture changes.
oh i meant orb won at 1 1/8th well the rest of the field has only sealed victories at 1 1/16th.

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Meet Brian Zipse

Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Taken to the races at a very young age, he has been lucky enough to see all the greats in person from Secretariat, Forego, and Ruffian through Rachel Alexandra, Zenyatta, American Pharoah and Justify. Before coming to the Nation, Brian displayed his love for the sport through the development of his horse racing website, which quickly became one of the most popular blogs in the game. His new racing partnership venture, Derby Day Racing, invites more fans to experience the thrill of racehorse ownership.

The Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, Brian authored a daily column as Zipse at the Track, created the popular racing show, HorseCenter and added his editorial flare to the overall content of the website. Now a Senior Writer for HRN, Brian continues to contribute his thoughts on racing, as well as hosting HorseCenter. A big supporter of thoroughbred aftercare, he serves as the President of The Exceller Fund.

Brian's work has also been published on several leading industry sites. He has consulted for leading contest site Derby Wars, is both a Hall of Fame and NTRA poll voter, and is a Vox Populi committee member. 

A horse owner and graduate of DePaul University, Brian lives just outside of Louisville with his wife Candice and daughter Kendra.

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