Two huge Kentucky Derby preps this weekend at Gulfstream Park and the Fair Grounds. The Florida Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2) offer two very strong favorites in Gunnevera and Girvin, but a good field lines up to contend against each. Our two favorites both drew wide posts and will need to find their best running to come away with 100 Kentucky Derby Points today.
Florida Derby (G1) – 1 1/8 mi – Gulfstream Park
The biggest race of the meet, the Florida Derby, has yielded many Kentucky Derby winners in recent years, including last year’s winner Nyquist. I’m hoping the same happens today with my early Derby favorite, Gunnevera. He was lights out last time in the Fountain of Youth and showed me one of the first performances of the year where a horse was just pulling away strong. Gunnevera has maturity unlike many of the other contenders this year, and has the pedigree to win this race (like his sire did) and the Kentucky Derby. My top pick in this race will obviously be Gunnevera. Underneath, I’ll be taking value on the rail with State Of Honor (whose sire To Honor and Serve finished third in the very same Florida Derby Dialed In won). After leading much of the Tampa Bay Derby, he was run down off the turn by eventual winner Tapwrit, probably the 3rd best 3yo behind Gunnevera and McCraken. Even after being passed, he came back and held strong to finish a very good second, putting in a winning effort.
Louisiana Derby (G2) – 1 1/8 mi – Fair Grounds
In the bayou, the Louisiana Derby comes up strong, led by Girvin. Girvin comes out of a win in the Risen Star, but only after the favorite failed to go. Guest Suite, winner of the Lecomte, looks to be retooled and ready to go, especially as the races get longer. Todd Pletcher sends a few, led by hard trier Patch and romping winner Monaco. My focus will be on the second Pletcher horse, Monaco, winner by 12 last time out. Monaco debut in a very strong 2yo race back in August and has improved greatly since then. Now finally breaking his maiden, this millionaire yearling purchase is ready to run. Underneath, watch out for the Oaklawn Park shipper Senior Investment who won easily last time, a win that has stuck with me since then. Improving at the right time.