Florida Derby Entries
Florida Derby Handicapping advice
By Brent Sedo
The Florida Derby will be run at 1 1/8 miles on the Gulfstream dirt, with the top four finishers being awarded Derby qualifying points on a 100-50-20-10 scale, meaning the top two finishers will be essentially guaranteed a spot in the Derby gate come May 6. Ten colts and one gelding have been entered, although there is a possibility one of the two Todd Pletcher trainees in the race will be scratched.
The field is led by Gunnevera, the morning line favorite at odds of 9-5. He'll be making his third start in the graded-stakes races at Gulfstream for three year olds, having previously won the (G2) Fountain of Youth Stakes by more than five lengths, after running second in the (G3) Holy Bull Stakes in his 2017 debut.
The fact that he has drawn the outside post position isn't expected to be much of a problem with his late-closing style, and it's expected jockey Javier Castellano will immediately take him down to the rail and then attempt to rally late on the tiring front runners.
His ability to do that all depends on the pace setup in front of him, and it's interesting to note that the front-end speed is expected to be provided by one - or both - of the Pletcher horses, if they both run.
If, as expected, Pletcher decides to scratch Battalion Runner (3-1), that could leave his other entry in Always Dreaming (4-1) alone on the front end (likely with 8-1 Three Rules) for a long time, as the bulk of the rest of the field are off-the-pace runners or late closers. Always Dreaming has two wins in four lifetime starts and will be making his stakes debut.
Breaking from down on the inside post, the Mark Casse trained State Of Honor (8-1) has only one win to his name in nine lifetime starts, but he's run in some big graded-stakes races in his young career, and most recently finished second, four lengths back of Tapwrit when that one won the 1 1/16 mile Tampa Bay Derby in a stakes and track record time.
It'll be interesting to see if he'll go after the lead as he did in the TB Derby, or if jockey Julien Leparoux decides to try and win off a stalking trip.
Among those in double-digit figures, Impressive Edge (12-1) hasn't so far shown the top speed of some of the others in the field, but his two wins in five lifetime starts have both come on the Gulfstream dirt, including a win by more than eight lengths last out in an allowance race.
He'll be making his first attempt at racing around two turns and if he can navigate the track, his stalking style could have him right there to pick up a minor reward if the speed falters late.
The Florida Derby goes Saturday, April 1 from Gulfstream Park. Post time is 6:40 PM Eastern.
Entries w/ ML Odds
1) State Of Honor (8-1)
2) Talk Logistics (30-1)
3) Charlie The Greek (50-1)
4) Always Dreaming (4-1)
5) Quinientos (50-1)
6) Coleman Rocky (30-1)
7) Unbridled Holiday (30-1)
8) Impressive Edge (12-1)
9) Battalion Runner (3-1)
10) Three Rules (8-1)
11) Gunnevera (9-5)
#1 - Gunnevera
#2 - Always Dreaming
#3 - State Of Honor
#4 - Impressive Edge