Florida Derby Draw Scheduled for Today
By Jim Freer
Tuesday, March 24 -- At 5:00 p.m. this afternoon, Gulfstream Park will hold the post position draw for this Saturday‘s $1 million Florida Derby (Grade 1).
The draw, with announcement of entrants and post positions, will be in Gulfstream’s walking ring. Gulfstream officials expect a field of at least eight horses for the 1 1/8 mile dirt stakes for 3-year-olds. Gulfstream’s condition book shows the Florida Derby as Saturday’s 14th and final race. The projected post time is 6:30 p.m.
Post time for the first race is 12:00 p.m. Gulfstream will have seven other stakes races. Throughout this week, we will have previews of those races and of the Florida Derby.
Barring any last-minute plan changes by trainers, the Florida Derby will be a rematch of three of the top four finishers from Gulfstream’s Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) on Feb. 21. It also will be the first stakes race for the highly touted Materiality, who has won both his career starts.
Upstart, Itsaknockout and Frosted finished frst, second and fourth in the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth.
Upstart came in 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Itsaknockout. But stewards declared Itsaknockout the winner and put Upstart in second place for what they determined was interference in two incidents in the stretch run.
The decision was controversial. Many observers felt that the first bumping was triggered by a tiring Frosted who forced Upstart to change paths. But stewards decided there was sufficient evidence that it may have cost Itsaknockout the race.
On Jan. 24, Upstart beat second place finisher Frosted by 5 ½ lengths in the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull (Grade 2) at Gulfstream.
Trainer-jockey combinations are: Upstart (Rick Violette-Jose Ortiz), Itsaknockout (Todd Pletchrer-Luis Saez) and Frosted (Kiaran McLaughlin-Irad Ortiz Jr.).
Materiality, also trained by Pletcher, was the impressive winner of a 1 18 mile allowance at Gulfstream on March 6. John Velazquez will ride on Saturday
Eh Cumpari, winner of the Palm Beach (Grade 3) on turf at Gulfstream on March 7, also is likely for the Florida Derby. So are Ami’s Flatter, My Point Exactly, Quimet and Dekabrist.
The Florida Derby is the first of seven ‘championship round” races in qualifying for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1) at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., on May 2.
The first four Florida Derby finishers will earn 100, 40, 20 and 10 qualifying points, respectively. The winner and runner up points will be enough to make the 20-horse Kentucky Derby field.
Latest standings show Itsaknockout in eighth place with 50 points and Upstart ninth with 36. Frosted is 19th with 13 points. It will probably take at least 20 points to make the Kentucky Derby field.