Road To The Kentucky Derby — Florida Derby Preview And Top Win Contenders

Written By Fairway Jay on April 1, 2022 - Last Updated on April 4, 2023
Gulfstream Park Florida Derby

The Road to the Kentucky Derby continues Saturday with three major Championship Series races, including the Florida Derby. All three races award 100 qualifying points to the winner, and the next three finishers receive 40-20-10 points. The top two finishers would secure enough points to earn entry into the starting gate for the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby on May 7.

Here are the three key races on Saturday, April 2,  for 3-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby Trail.

  • Florida Derby – 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park
  • Arkansas Derby – 1 1/8 miles at Oaklawn Park
  • Jeff Ruby Steaks – 1 1/8 miles at Turfway Park

Saturday’s 14-race card at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Florida, features the $1 million Florida Derby in Race 14 at 6:38 p.m. EST. The Grade 1 race at 1 1/8 miles drew 11 entries.

Also, seven 3-year-old fillies will be running for Kentucky Oaks points in Race 12 and the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks at 1 1/16 miles.

Florida Derby field and odds

1Strike Hard20-1Junior AlvaradoMatt Williams
2Classic Causeway7-2Irad Ortiz Jr.Brian Lynch
3Simplification5-2Jose OrtizAntonio Sano
4King of Truth50-1Junior MorelosAmador Sanchez
5Pappacap10-1Edwin GonzalezMark Casse
6Charge It7-2Luis SaezTodd Pletcher
7White Abarrio3-1Tyler GaffalioneSaffie Joseph Jr.
8Cajun's Magic30-1Jesus RiosMichael Gates
9O Captain20-1Joel RosarioGustavo Delgado
10Clapton30-1Emisael JaramilloJuan Alvarado
11Steal Sunshine30-1Leonel ReyesBobby Dibona

You can watch, wager and bet on horse racing for all races at TVG as part of its comprehensive daily package. In addition, TVG offers new players a $300 bonus wager, and the leading online racing and betting platform covers horse racing from coast to coast and includes dozens of racetracks.

Florida Derby top win contenders

Here are the top win contenders and other horse analyses as you determine your horse racing strategies, how to bet and which horses will win. In addition, our partners at TVG and Horse Racing Nation have added insight into the race.

  • Charge It
  • White Abarrio
  • Classic Causeway

Trainer Todd Pletcher has won the Florida Derby seven times, and he enters beautifully bred Charge It. This versatile son of Tapit could come from off the pace and make it a race or settle near the front as he did in his 8 1/2-length win in late February. Charge It is making just his third start, all as a 3-year-old, and jumps right from his maiden win into a Grade 1 race needing a top two finish to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Gulfstream winter meet leading jockey Luis Saez rides this rapidly improving colt, working sharp in the mornings.

White Abarrio won twice at Gulfstream last fall and then finished third behind Smile Happy and runner-up Classic Causeway in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Two months ago, his sophomore debut was one of the best performances on the Derby Trail when he posted balanced speed figures and drew clear to win by 4 1/2 lengths over Simplification in the Holy Bull. White Abarrio is a must for win wagers and exactas for EPO trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., as this galloping gray colt comes rested, with proven performances.

Multiple graded stakes-placed at age 2, Classic Causeway emerged as one of the leaders on the Kentucky Derby trail, winning the Sam F. Davis Stakes and the Tampa Bay Derby. Leading jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. will get the best ride on or near the lead, so expect a good break to the short first turn.

Simplification finished runner-up in the Holy Bull but broke better in the Fountain of Youth. He settled in and then closed to win decisively as the FOY favorite. Jockey Jose Ortiz rode him for the first time last race and returns here looking to settle off the leaders and make his move near the far turn. O Captain finished third in the Fountain of Youth with a mild rally after trailing at the back of the pack on the backstretch.

Cajun’s Magic and Strike Hard are the long shots of interest to pick up the pieces, according to HRN’s Super Screener.

Check out Playfecta for additional betting strategies on the Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks, and stay tuned for more updates on the Derby trail.

Florida Derby winners

Of the last 16 Florida Derby winners, 15 ran their previous race at Gulfstream Park. And 13 of the last 16 winners won their race before the Florida Derby.

Since 1995, seven Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby — the most of any Derby prep race over that time. Recent runners to win the Derby Double include Maximum Security (finished first but DQ’d), Always Dreaming, Nyquist and Orb. Also, Tiz the Law finished second in the 2020 Kentucky Derby and won the Belmont Stakes.

2021Known Agenda5-1$12.801:49.45Midpack3rd
2020Tiz the Law7-5$4.801:50.00Pressing1st
2019Maximum Security9-2$11.601:48.86Front6th
2017Always Dreaming5-2$7.401:47.47Stalking3rd
2013Orb3-1$7.801:50.87Off pace2nd
2012Take Charge Indy7-1$17.401:48.79Front3rd
2011Dialed In3-1$7.801:50.07Deep closer5th
2010Ice Box20-1$43.401:49.19Deep closer3rd
2009Quality Road6-5$4.401:47.72Stalking2nd
2008Big Brown7-5$5.001:48.16Front1st
2007Scat Daddy2-1$6.401:40.00Stalking1st
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Fairway Jay

FairwayJay is a leading national sports and betting analyst and provides insight and information you can bet on to engage and assist the avid fan. His tee-to-green coverage and racing contributions have been provided to Churchill Downs, Twinspires, TVG, Forbes, TheLines, numberFire and PlayUSA platforms. Follow on Twitter: @FairwayJay

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