A field of nine head to the gate on Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park for the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) with Kentucky Derby points on the line, led by Sam F. Davis (G3) runner up Catholic Boy.
Trained by former Todd Pletcher assistant Jonathan Thomas, the son of More Than Ready drew the six post, is 7-2 on the morning line and has Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons for the first time.
The colt is currently listed at 12-1 in early Kentucky Derby wagering at US Racing.
There are 170 points up for grabs toward entry into the Run for the Roses, with 100 going to the winner, 40 to the runner up and 20 and 10 going to the third and fourth place finishers respectively.
Also on tap today is the $2 million UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan, the only other Road to the Kentucky Derby point race this weekend.
The Pletcher trained Nobly Indy sits atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby point standings with 110. After this weekend there are five Derby points races left to be decided.
Catholic Boy has earned just 14 points placing him in 25th place in the point standings.
Among his foes in the Florida Derby is the Todd Pletcher trained Audible, the 9-5 morning line favorite. The colt won the Holy Bull (G2) in his last outing and is 12-1 in Early Kentucky Derby betting at USRacing.
The top pair from the Fountain of Youth (G2) return. Promises Fulfilled (3-1) took the field gate to wire while Strike Power (4-1) chased throughout, checking in 2 ¼ lengths behind the winner.
My Best Plays Report for Saturday will include my strongest plays from Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park and Meydan for Dubai World Cup night (actually day as post for the big races is 12:50 ET).
Let’s head out to Gulfstream Park for Saturday’s featured race of the day:
Gulfstream Park Race 14 The Florida Derby G1 (Post time 6:36 ET)
#6 Catholic Boy 7-2
#1 Strike Power 4-1
#8 Audible 9-5
#4 Promises Fulfilled 3-1
Analysis: Catholic Boy tracked the early pace and got his head in front in the stretch, battling on gamely as Flameaway came back to win by a half-length. The colt started off his career on turf, winning the With Anticipation (G3) and then running a troubled fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1), beaten 1 1/2 lengths for the top spot behind Euro invader Mendelssohn, who won the Patton Stakes in his last start and went earlier today in the UAE Derby (G2).
His first dirt try was a sharp win in the Remsen (G2) at the Big A going nine furlongs. The runner up Avery Island came back to win the Withers (G3) in his next outing. The colt has moved forward in every career start and looking for another one here. He is by More Than Ready out of a Bernardini mare. Ortiz picks up the call for trainer Jonathan Thomas, a former top assistant to Todd Pletcher. He owns the top late pace numbers and just needs to see a bit of pace in front of him.
Strike Power put in a solid effort in the Fountain of Youth (G2) last out, chasing the early pace and unable to get to Promises Fulfilled in the stretch. The colt was making his first start around two turns after breaking his maiden by eight lengths in his debut and then winning the Swale (G3) at seven furlongs. The colt draws the rail and figures to be sent early.
There is not a ton of speed in here and it is possible he could be up front setting moderate early factions. The colt can go nine furlongs, by Speightstown out of a stakes placed Medaglia d’Oro mare.
Audible ran big winning the Holy Bull (G2) last out by 5 1/2 lengths and earning the top last out speed fig. The New York bred broke his maiden against state breds and then trounced Alw-1 optional claimers by 9 3/4 lengths in a race taken off the turf in his first start against winners. His last out number was 15 points higher than his previous top fig.
He is sent out by Todd Pletcher who has won this race in three of the last four years including last year with Always Dreaming who went on to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). He reunites with Johnny V. and has worked sharply at Palm Beach Downs. The main knock is going to be the light price.
WIN: #6 to win at 3-1 or better.
EX: 1,6 / 1,4,6,8
TRI: 1,6 / 1,4,6,8 / 1,4,5,6,8
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