Expert picks: 2020 Florida Derby predictions, longshots

Expert picks: 2020 Florida Derby predictions, longshots
Photo: Ryan Thompson/Gulfstream Park

In any other year, Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Florida Derby would mark the final step toward the Kentucky Derby for its winner. Even in this unique season, Gulfstream Park's signature race figures to carry significant meaning in determining key players on the Triple Crown trail.

With post time set for 6:36 p.m. ET, here's how Horse Racing Nation contributors are playing a race led by the last two local winners within the division, Tiz the Law (Holy Bull) and Ete Indien (Fountain of Youth).

Selections were submitted before news of two impending scratches. Ajaaweed is out, and Soros was scheduled to run in a Friday allowance at Gulfstream. That moves outside-drawn Ete Indien in two gates and puts the also-eligible maiden Rogue Element in to what's now a field of 11.

In coming to your own conclusions, check out free past performances. Good luck!

Jeffrey Byrnes,Byrnzzze's Corner ,

Winner: #7 Tiz the Law

On the board: #12 Ete Indien, #1 As Seen On Tv

Longshot I like: #6 Ajaaweed (SCR)

Analysis: Tiz the Law has been as good as advertised in 2020. He defeated Ete Indien in the Holy Bull and has been turning in fast and powerful works leading into this rematch. Tiz the Law owns the best speed figures on dirtof every contender here, drew a nice post and looks to have the rest running for second. Ete Indien won the Fountain of Youth in dominating fashion from a far outside post, just like he landed for the Florida Derby. He's 2-for-3 since switching to dirt. Steady works and the return call for hot jockey Florent Geroux make this one live. As Seen on Tv will get a short run to the first turn and has what sets up to be the fastest way around. Never off the board in five starts, this horse will get good speed in front of him and has shown he can hang around. With the right trip, he has a chance.

Nick Costa

Winner: #7 Tiz the Law

On the board: #5 Gouverneur Morris, #12 Ete Indien

Longshot I like: #6 Ajaaweed (SCR)

Analysis: Tiz the Law distinguished himself as a top-level horse as a juvenile, then gave a smashing performance in his 2020 debut. The win became more impressive when the runner-up produced a remarkable front-running victory in the Fountain of Youth. He’s has been pointed for this spot and should be up to the task of maintaining his top ranking. Gouverneur Morris debuted as a nine-length winner and then was runner-up in the Breeders' Futurity last year. In his only start this season, he won an allowance race in near track record time. The trainer/jockey team of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez have enjoyed much success in this event. Ete Indien wasn’t hindered by the outside post in his last score, blasting to the front and sailing easily to victory. Does the same strategy work again from a far worse post going against others with early zip?

Ryan Dickey

Winner: #12 Ete Indien

On the board: #5 Gouverneur Morris, #7 Tiz the Law

Longshot I like: #10 Candy Tycoon

Analysis: Todd Pletcher has saddled the winner of the Florida Derby in four of the last six years. While I think it's going to be Ete Indien hitting the wire first, I expect both Pletcher horses, Gouverneur Morris and Candy Tycoon, to factor. The wildcard for me in this race is the favorite, Tiz the Law, who could win this race in impressive fashion or throw a clunker off the shelf. I'll be betting he does something in between and will use him underneath. As for Ete Indien, his speed nullifies the poor post.

Jarrod Horak

Winner: #5 Gouverneur Morris

On the board: #9 Independence Hall, #7 Tiz the Law

Longshot I like: #6 Ajaaweed (SCR)

Analysis: Gouverneur Morris appears ready to return to the stakes ranks after an optional claiming route score in his first start in four-plus months on Feb. 14. The $600,000 colt from the Pletcher barn drew well, owns fine tactical speed and fired a bullet for this March 15. Independence Hall always runs his early-pressing race. I am not sure how far he wants to go, and he can get a bit keyed up early. Tiz the Law looked good in his Holy Bull return on Feb. 1. I will also include Disc Jockey and Ete Indien in my suggested bets.

Wagers (pre-scratches): #5 to win; exacta 5/7-9, exacta 7-9/5; trifecta 5-7-9/3-6/3-5-6-7-9-12; trifecta 5-7-9/3-5-6-7-9-12/3-6

Reinier Macatangay

Winner: #9 Independence Hall

On the board: #7 Tiz the Law, #12 Ete Indien

Longshot I like: #10 Candy Tycoon

Analysis: Given the expected low prices of Tiz the Law and Ete Indien, Independence Hall is the only logical win bet off his runner-up finish in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs. After chasing a speed duel in that race, he still kept fighting in the stretch and only lost because Sole Volante took advantage of the setup. For those searching for a longshot, an interesting option is Candy Tycoon, who moved forward in his stakes debut with a runner-up finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes and could develop into a nice router for Todd Pletcher.

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