I do love this time of year, with budding hopeful 3YO’s attempting to stamp their ticket for the Kentucky Derby. The Florida Derby is one of the most important KD preps and it is a huge event all unto itself. In post position order:
1.8-1 State of Honor : Marching pattern. This guy showcases an excellent Marching pattern, as he improved to an 8.1 Best in a solid 2nd in the Tampa Derby 3 weeks ago. He looks to push the early pace, especially from the one hole, although he will most likely have a lot of pressure. He has run well before from off the pace, however I do not think the extra ½ furlong is to his advantage. Breeding is OK for the distance and connections are excellent. An improving 3YO that warrants consideration.
2.30-1 Talk Logistics: Slight Marching pattern. He posted his modest 11.3 Best while finishing a distant 4th behind Gunnevera in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. He appears to be bred more for sprints and connections have modest stats. Needs a big step forward.
3.50-1 Charlie the Greek: One race regression. He just bounced off his 12.9 Best, which is slow for this group. He appears to be bred more for sprints and his connections have been having rough meets. Would surprise me.
4.4-1 Always Dreaming: One race regression. His last race decline from his 9.8 Best is likely a mirage, as he won in the easiest possible fashion after setting incredibly slow fractions. The first of 2 Pletcher entries, although one is a likely scratch, figures to be with the early leaders, although he will be pushed much harder this time. Breeding seems OK, and connections are as good as it gets. Dangerous!
5.50-1 Quinientos: Mild Circle Back pattern. He appears to be Circling Back to his 12.3 Best after finishing 6th in the Fountain of Youth. This is a very slow Number for these. Trainer Sanchez has been having a lean meet, although jockey Montalvo has been hot. Breeding seems to suit. Would surprise me.
6.30-1 Coleman Rocky: Short layoff. He posted a very modest 16.6 Best on the Turf in December and has since been sidelined for over 2 months. Distance appears to suit, and jockey Ortiz has excellent stats; however trainer Delgado has been having a very rough meet. Appears up against in here.
7.30-1 Unbridled Holiday: Marching pattern. He posted his modest 12.4 Best in a decent 3rd at the distance, in a race with incredibly slow fractions. Connections have decent stats, and the distance suits. He came home in a hurry, but could not overcome the slow pace. His Numbers are very slow in here, but I think today’s pace will benefit his come from behind style. Longshot with a chance to at least be in the exotics!
8.12-1 Impressive Edge: Leaped forward in last. He smashed an Allowance field going 7 furlongs as the 1-2 favorite in his most recent, posting a much improved 9.9 Best. Breeding suggests that he may like the extra distance, and connections have very good stats. Will need another big step forward.
9.3-1 Battalion Runner: Marching pattern. I think this is the most likely of the 2 Pletcher runners to actually make it to the starting gate. This lightly raced 3YO has been very impressive in his 2 2017 starts, including a hard earned score in an Allowance event right here, where he posted a rapid 6.4 Best. He is certainly bred for the distance, and his connections are top notch. I expect him to be pushed hard early, but there is really no telling how good he is. Very Dangerous!
10.8-1 Three Rules: Fading pattern. His Numbers have faded since his 6.7 Best posted last October, and he faded in the stretch after showing the way in the Fountain of Youth. He figures to be another of the strong early pace factors, and he will probably be sent, breaking from the 10 post. Connections have decent stats, and he seems fairly well bred for the distance. He also seems to be going the wrong way. Will need a sharp turnaround.
11.9-5 Gunnevera: Marching pattern. The morning line favorite has a beautiful Marching pattern, topped by his most recent impressive 6 length come from behind score in the Fountain of Youth where he posted a very fast 3.7 Best. Trainer Soto has OK stats and jockey Castellano is primo. Breeding and running style seem to suit. Post is less than ideal, but with his come from behind style it may not be a factor. Absolutely the one to beat!
Gunnevera is my strong top pick. Both of the Pletcher runners warrant a long look. It would not surprise me to see Unbridled Holiday outrun his odds.