Friday's ninth race at Gulfstream Park is a solid allowance race, but the 1 1/8 mile test might as well be a Derby trail prep race - featuring Soldat, Dialed In, Lauburu and several others.
Soldat, as the only stakes winner in the field, is the 5-2 morning line favorite. On turf, Soldat captured the G3 With Anticipation at Saratoga and finished second to Pluck in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. On dirt, he's finished second in two starts, both sprints.
Nick Zito's big Derby hope - Dialed In - is the 7-2 second choice. He broke slow but closed fast to win his only start, a maiden race at Churchill Downs on November 12. He received a 75 Beyer figure for that effort and has been training well for this, coming in off two bullet works at Palm Meadows.
After those two, there are a series of impressive maiden winners, including:
Cool Blue Red Hot (4-1) - Trained by Angel Penna Jr., the son of Harlan's Holiday earned a 96 Beyer in his debut running second by a nose to Buffum at Belmont, but returned to take a two-turn maiden at Calder by 3 1/4 lenghts.
Financial Empire, trained by Pletcher, won his debut, going one mile at Calder, earning a 57 Beyer.
Beamer is a Vindication colt trained by Carl Nafzger who got a 77 Beyer by drawing off from Tampa maidens by 5 1/2 lengths in his second start.
Lauburu captured an Aqueduct maiden by a nose over Break Up The Game. Trained by Pletcher, the Unbridled's Song colt earned a 66 Beyer. Lauburu is a half to stakes winners Ashado, Sunriver and Saint Stephen.
Mas Trueno broke his maiden in his third start, a maiden special race at Philly Park, earning a 63 Beyer. He was trained by John Servis for his first three starts, but now runs for William Phipps.
Rounding out the field is Halo's Thunder, trained by Kenny McPeek. The Thunder Gulch colt ran fourth in both the G3 Iroquois and the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club before finishing sixth in the Tropical Park Derby.
Incidentially, this same race last year featured Ice Box and Pleasant Prince, 1-2 finishers in the Florida Derby.