By Jim Freer
Gulfstream Park will have the $750,000 Florida Derby and nine other stakes races on Saturday March 27.
HorseRacingFLA will have previews throughout this week and coverage on Saturday.
First post is 11:30 a.m. for Saturday's 14-race card.
Tickets for Saturday are sold out. Because of ongoing concern about possible spread of COVID-19, Gulfstream is limiting attendance to about 2,000 on most days.
Information about ticket availability on other days may be obtained by calling the Gulfstream Park Box Office at (954) 457-6201.
The post position draw will be held at 12:15 p.m. on Wednesday.
It will be streamed live on Gulfstream's Web Site https://www.gulfstreampark.com/
The Saturday race schedule will be announced at the draw. The Florida Derby will probably be the 14th race.
Watching and Wagering
Tampa Bay Downs is among pari-mutuels that will have simulcast wagering on the Florida Derby and Gulfstream's other Saturday races.
Gulfstream will carry all of its Saturday races live on its Web site, which does not have betting.
Most Advance Deposit Wagering (ADW) services will show the Gulfstream races and have betting on them.
That list of ADWs includes 1st.com.bet and Xpressbet, both owned by Gulfstream's parent The Stronach Group. TwinSpires. TVG and DRFBets also will carry Gulfstream's Saturday races.
The Florida Derby is 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-olds. Gulfstream officials expect that as many as ten horses will be in the race.
It is a final round points qualifying race for the Kentucky Derby (Grade 1), to be run May 1 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.
The first four Florida Derby finishers will earn 100, 40, 20 and 10 points respectively.
It is likely that at least 40 points will be needed to gain one of the twenty spots in the Kentucky Derby, which is 1 1/4 miles on dirt.
Gulfstream is listing Greatest Honour, Spielberg, Papetu, Known Agenda, Nova Rags, Collaborate, Soup and Sandwich, Quantum Leap, Jirafales and Siglioso as probable Florida Derby starters.
Greatest Honour, trained by Shug McGaughey, will come into the Florida Derby with 60 qualifying points and is almost certain to have a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
He earned ten points when he won the Holy Bull (Grade 3) and fifty points when he won the Fountain of Youth (Grade 2). Both races were 1 1/16 miles on dirt at Gulfstream.
Spielberg, with 17, and Papetu, with ten, are the only other horses among the ten Florida Derby candidates that have ten or more Kentucky Derby points.
Papetu, trained by Antonio Sano, earned ten points with a third place finish in the Fountain of Youth.
Drain the Clock finished second in the Fountain of Youth and earned 20 points. He led that race until Greatest Honour passed him in deep stretch.
Drain the Clock is not entered in the Florida Derby. Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. has said that he expects to cut that colt back to one turn in his next several starts.
Spielberg, trained by Bob Baffert, is shipping in from California for the Florida Derby.
Spielberg is one of four horses that Baffert has been running in Kentucky Derby preps.
The others and their point totals are Life Is Good (60), Concert Tour (50) and Medina Spirit (34).
Baffert is putting them in different races, when possible, to keep them from competing for qualifying points.
Life Is Good suffered a hind leg injury on Sunday while training at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.
Later on Sunday, Baffert said Life Is Good will not be able to run in the Santa Anita Derby (Grade 1) on April 6 or in the Kentucky Derby.
On Saturday, Gulfstream will have a mandatory payout of its jackpot on the Rainbow 6--regardless of the number of tickets with all six winning horses.
The jackpot consists of the entire coming-in carryover plus 80 percent of the day's new Rainbow 6 bets (the takeout is 20 percent).
Gulfstream usually pays out the jackpot only on days when there is just one ticket with all six winners.
On non-mandatory days when there are multiple winning tickets, Gulfstream takes out 20 percent of the day's Rainbow 6 bet. It then divides 56 percent among tickets with the most winners (usually six) and adds 24 percent to the carryover.
The Rainbow 6 is a 20 cents per-combination only bet. On Saturday, it will be on races nine through fourteen.
When Gulfstream resumes racing on Wednesday, it will have a Rainbow 6 carryover of $735,873.
If the Rainbow 6 is not hit by just one ticket on Wednesday, Thursday or Friday the carryover will probably be about $1.1 million on Saturday. In that case, we expect that as much as $10 million could be bet on the Rainbow 6.
Last year, Gulfstream's total handle on Florida Derby day was $53,841,165 for fourteen races. That is the all-time record for Gulfstream, except for the three days when it had the Breeders' Cup races--in 1989, 1992 and 1999.
Florida Derby day last year was Saturday March 28--one of the first days when several U.S. thoroughbred tracks did not have racing because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reduced competition led to increases in ADW and simulcast betting on the attractive Gulfstream card.
Last year, there also was a mandatory payout on the Rainbow on Florida Derby day. The coming-in carryover was $1,664,906. Wagering on the Rainbow 6 was $9,211,773.
Gulfstream's previous non-Breeders' Cup total handle record was $49,909,710 on March 31, 2018 which was Florida Derby day with fourteen races.