Kentucky Derby Trail: Florida Derby Picks
The biggest day of the 2020 Gulfstream Park winter meeting is here, with 14 races and 10 stakes to enjoy on Saturday. Here's Emily Shields' picks and predictions for the action..
The $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) is the marquee event on the day. All eyes will be on early 2020 Kentucky Derby favorite Tiz the Law, but $600,000 purchase Gouverneur Morris offers value at 8-1. Todd Pletcher trains the son of Constitution, who has won two of three starts and took his 2020 debut at Tampa Bay Downs in sharp style. John Velazquez will ride.
Now, for the rest of the action...
The $100,000 Cutler Bay Stakes has a field of 12 going a mile on the grass. Summer to Remember is 8-1 on the morning line for trainer Todd Pletcher after winning over this course on February 9. He was third in the Grade 3 Kitten’s Joy in January with a wide trip, and has improved every start.
The $100,000 Hal’s Hope (G3) goes as Race 6. Harvey Wallbanger is 4-1 morning line and is already a Grade 2 winner over this track after taking the Holy Bull Stakes here last year. He didn’t make it to the Kentucky Derby but the Ken McPeek trainee has two wins in four starts here, and is coming off a more than five length score over this track a month ago.
Race 7 is the $100,000 Sanibel Island Stakes. Onyx is 6-1 morning line but has won three in a row, improving with every start. She is unbeaten on this course, a two-time stakes winner here, and gets Luis Saez for this tough contest.
The $75,000 Sir Shackleton is seven furlongs on the main track. Home Base is 6-1, has won two of his last three starts, ran huge to take the Rail Splitter here last out, and is four for seven at the distance.
The $100,000 Sand Springs is Race 9. Favored Newspaperofrecord is a play against, as she has not won in 16 months, and has not run since July. 8-1 Jakarta changed trainers last out to Mike Maker and won here in her turf debut, scoring over five furlongs to win by nearly three lengths. This is a mile, so she would have to handle the stretch out.
The $100,000 Orchid Stakes (G3) has two tough favorites in Mean Mary and Elizabeth Way, and Gentle Ruler at 7-2 won six of seven starts last year.
The $200,000 Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) is a stellar prep for the now postponed Kentucky Oaks (G1). Tonalist’s Shape is hoping to keep her unbeaten streak going after winning three straight stakes here, but 8-1 Lucrezia is waiting in the wings after winning a pair of stakes at Tampa Bay Downs for trainer Arnaud Delacour.
The $200,000 Kitten’s Joy Pan American (G2) has a 3-5 favorite in Zulu Alpha, who has won two major stakes in a row here, and will be very tough to beat.
The $100,000 Appleton is wide open with 12 runners, including El Tormenta on the outside who makes his first start since the Breeders’ Cup Mile (G1). English Bee on the rail was very brave to split horses and finish third in the Canadian Turf (G3) here last out. He is three for six at the distance and 8-1 morning line.