Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:59 PM
A11 - Florida Derby
Welcome to “Anthony’s Eleven,” your source for anything and everything leading up to Kentucky Derby 145 on May 4th at historic Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. In the coming weeks, Anthony Stabile, best known for picking 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide at odds of over 12-1, will break down the top contenders for this years’ Run for the Roses on VegasInsider.com, culminating on Friday, May 3 with an extensive analysis of every runner that steps into the gate for the most exciting two minutes in sports. On both May 3 and May 4, Kentucky Oaks and Derby Day, you’ll be able to purchase Stabile’s Pick Packs, full of selections and plays for two of racings’ most exciting days of the year. Click here!
Anthony's Eleven (3/29/19)
|Anthony's Eleven (3/29/19)|
While there are two, 100-point races this Saturday on the road to the Kentucky Derby, the focus will be at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida where Code of Honor, Bourbon War and beaten favorite Hidden Scroll, the first, second and fourth place finishers from the G2 Fountain of Youth, will hook up again in the G1 Florida Derby at 1 1/8 miles.
Code of Honor benefitted from a great set-up and picture-perfect ride from John Velazquez last out when he won by three-quarters of a length. Saving ground the entire way behind a sharp pace, he moved up nicely on the turn before grabbing the lead in deep stretch in his two turn debut. The victory took the sour taste out of his trainer Shug McGaughey’s mouth after his disappointing effort just two months earlier in the Mucho Macho Man where he trudged home fourth as the 4-5 favorite.
A debut winner, McGaughey thought enough of Code of Honor to run him back in the G1 Champagne and was rewarded with a fantastic second place finish after a bad stumble at the start. He’ll break from post 9 on Saturday.
It appeared as if Bourbon War simply ran out of ground last out and may be the one out of the top three that will appreciate the added distance and the fact that this race concludes at the traditional finish line at Gulfstream as opposed to the sixteenth pole finish used last out.
Like McGaughey, trainer Mark Hennig threw Bourbon War to the proverbial wolves in his second start after an impressive debut tally in an off-the-turf event going a mile at Aqueduct when he entered him in the G2 Remsen just 17 days later at this distance. Ordinarily, “fourth, beaten nine lengths” isn’t the running line dreams are made of but his style was against the track bias when his race was run later on the card and it was just his second start.
This year, Bourbon War won an entry level allowance optional claimer over eventual Sunland Derby winner Cutting Humor two back before his game Fountain of Youth effort. Irad Ortiz, Jr. rides from post 4.
Hidden Scroll famously broke his maiden from post 1 in the slop by 14 lengths in his debut on the Pegasus undercard, going a mile in 1:34 4/5 and was sent off as the 6-5 favorite in the Fountain of Youth off of that performance.
After breaking a tad slowly, Hidden Scroll was rushed to the front and chased by a ridiculous longshot through a taxing opening half-mile in :45 3/5. He took the field into the stretch and tried to fight off Code of Honor briefly before tiring to fourth, three lengths behind the winner.
It’s been reported and appears in his workouts that Hidden Scroll is being trained to relax a bit by trainer Bill Mott more but the inside draw may force his connections to change plans and stick to his front-running style and tactics. Javier Castellano will ride for the first time.
Maximum Security, undefeated in three tries, will break from post 7 for Jason Servis with Luis Saez, who’s involved in a leading rider race with Irad that may very well come down to the final day of the meet on Sunday, in the irons for the first time.
A lot is being asked of Maximum Security in just his fourth start. To date, he’s won a $16K maiden claimer and a pair of starter allowance/optional claimers going sprint distances. And while he’s won them for one of the leading trainers at the meet and by a combined 34-plus lengths, this will be a HUGE step up in class and he’ll be asked to go nine furlongs having never raced beyond seven panels thus far.
Harvey Wallbanger posted a big upset when he stormed home from last to take the G2 Holy Bull eight weeks ago over this course at almost 30-1 for trainer Ken McPeek. Second in his first three starts at Saratoga, Keeneland and Churchill last summer and fall, he finally broke his maiden in his final start of last season before returning from an 11-week break to take advantage of a contentious early pace last out. Brian Hernandez, Jr., his pilot in his last two, returns and they’ll break from post 3.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, quiet by his standards on the Trail until both La. Derby runner-up Spinoff and Cutting Humor (one of our Prep Plays last week!) earned their way points-wise into the Derby, tries turf stakes winner Current in here. After taking the G3 Bourbon at Keeneland in dramatic fashion, Current had a rough go of it in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf, then was bothered at the start of the G3 KJC over a sloppy Churchill strip in his lone dirt try. Manny Franco rides from post 2.
Garter and Tie broke his maiden in a Florida Stallion Series race last summer before getting up to win the Smooth Air at the close of his juvenile campaign as the 4-5 favorite for trainer Ralph Nicks, who takes the blinkers off for this. Third in the Mucho Macho Man to begin this season, he never threatened when sixth in the Holy Bull and gets a rider change to Jeffrey Sanchez. He’ll break from the far outside in post 11.
Everfast came within a length of posting an even bigger upset than the winner did in the Holy Bull when he finished second at 128-1 then failed to make an impact when eighth in the Fountain of Youth. Chris Landeros rides for Dale Romans from post 5.
Union’s Destiny has won once in four starts for trainer Juan Avila. Most recently he was third in the Smooth Air and sixth when wide in the Fountain of Youth. Leonel Reyes rides from post 10.
The maiden Bodexpress just missed going seven furlongs in his fourth try last out and will be making his stakes and two turn debut for Gustavo Delgado, Nik Juarez rides from post 8.
Hopeless longshot Hard Belle rounds out the field under Jose Batista from post 6.
Over in Dubai, a field of 14 will chase after $2.5 million and 100 Derby points in the G2 U.A.E. Derby at Meydan on the Dubai World Cup undercard. Godolphin’s filly Divine Image, winner of the G3 U.A.E. Oaks and Al Bastikaya against the boys last out, both at this about 1 3/16 miles distance, is the 2-1 morning line favorite. Walking Thunder, second in the G3 U.A.E. 2000 Guineas figures to be her main threat while Plus Que Parfait, Gray Magician and Stubbins will represent the U.S.
Prep Play of the Day
Man, did I have a tough time with the Florida Derby. Ultimately, I believe Hidden Scroll is the most talented horse in this race so he’s the pick. Bet $60 to win on him and make a $10 exacta box using him and Bourbon War. Total bets are $80. Good luck!!!!!
Anthony “the Big A” Stabile can be heard regularly on the Horse Racing Radio Network from 3-6PM ET on Wednesday and 3-7PM ET Thursday and Friday. Tune in on Sirius 219, XM 201 or streaming live at horseracingradio.net. He also is a contributor on NYRA-TV as the co-host of Talking Horses and a backup racetrack announcer. Follow him on Twitter @thebigastabile