Florida Derby

4 graded stakes winners lead a talented field in this year’s Florida Derby. The Florida Derby, run at 9 furlongs, is a 100-point race for the Kentucky Derby — ensuring the winner a spot in the field. Second place, with 50 points, is a virtual guarantee as well.

At the top of the field is Audible. Unseen since his dominant win in the GII Holy Bull here in early February, all signs point towards a strong performance today. He brings the highest speed in the field (Bris) and was visually strong in that performance. He’s a NY-bred, but he cost half a million dollars, so that should be of little consequence. He runs for the Pletcher barn, whose 3YO horses are rounding into top form. He’s a strong contender and the one to beat. Likely will be a short price — perhaps well-suited as a single for the Pick 4.

Promises Fulfilled won the GII Fountain of Youth (FOY) here in early March. A frontrunner, he may have company from Strike Power or he may have the trip to himself. In the latter case — which happened in the FOY, he may be hard to stop on the lead and represents the biggest threat to Audible, who’ll likely have to make up ground on the outside.  Will be hard to get a fair price on this horses, whose merits are obvious.

Catholic Boy won the GIII With Anticipation on the turf in August, the GII Remsen in December and then finished second in the GIII Sam F. Davis in February. Like Audible, he gets a bit of a layoff coming into this race. He adds Irad Ortiz. He’ll likely track the leaders, who he rates just a slight bit below. He scares me with a real upset chance, although I think he’s not as good as Audible.

Strike Power lost in the FOY, but won the GIII Swale in this previous start. Given that the FOY was his first route, a second route portends improvement — although his trainer does not do well with the second-time route. The extra distance is a question, with Speightstown (a sprint sire) as his sire. He would need to turn the tables on Promises Fulfilled — something that’s possible for this lightly-raced horse. If he’s the forgotten horse (6-1 or higher), he’s a good bet.

Mississippi is a maiden winner with 2 strong allowance performances in January and February. He may have improved — which puts him right among the contenders — but he’s still in much deeper waters today. He adds blinkers, which threatens too much speed in the field. And he may get stuck outside from the 9 post. However, If you want to bet a longshot, this is your guy, though. Fast, improving, with top-notch connections.

Analysis: Simple and straightforward for me. It’s Audible — linking through a Pick 4. I’ll keep my eye on Catholic Boy as well and likely include him in the Pick 4, too.

Kentucky Derby Contender Profile: Materiality

Despite the highest Beyer figure so far from a 3YO (110 in the Florida Derby), Materiality will likely be double-digit odds on Kentucky Derby day.  It’s a combination of figure skepticism, due to the Gulfstream surface, and also the operation of two well-known “curses.”  First, he was unraced at two. No horse since Apollo in 1882 has won the Derby without racing at 2. Second, he has only made 3 lifetime starts. Historically, it’s very difficult to win the Derby with only 3 lifetime starts — only Big Brown (2008) and Regret (1915) have done it since 1900.

Still, a 110 Beyer is very fast.  Let’s look at his two Derby preps.

Islamorada Stakes

Materiality’s first 9f prep, the Islamorada Handicap, yielded two Kentucky Derby runners. Stanford came back to run second in the Louisiana Derby.

Florida Derby

Despite his lack of experience, Materiality beats a talented field in the Florida Derby, including Upstart, Ami’s Flatter, and Itsaknockout. As mentioned, his speed figure from this race is highest of the season.

On the whole, Materiality is a fascinating horse. At first glance, he would seem to lack the seasoning to get 10 furlongs in Kentucky, with only 3 lifetime starts and being unraced at 2. However, Pletcher has trained an alternative method to foundation building, running Materiality twice at 9 furlongs at Gulfstream in March. For those willing to buck history, he should offer double-digit value to win on Derby Day.

5 Weeks Out: Florida Derby, Lousiana Derby, UAE Derby

Three final preps for Kentucky Derby contenders today. Each race not only awards 100 points to the winner, but also 40 points to second and 20 points to 3rd. So, the top 2 finishers qualify and the 3rd place finisher is well-positioned, especially if he has some  points already.

We are five weeks from the Kentucky Derby, a relatively standard amount of rest for contemporary thoroughbreds. It was once a “curse” that no one could win the Kentucky Derby off 5 weeks rest, but that was been debunked in recent years.

Florida Derby

It’s a rematch between Upstart and Itsaknockout, who tussled in the Fountain of Youth.

It’s a deeper field today, with my eyes squarely focused on Materiality, who has emerged as a Kentucky Derby contender based on his performance at 9 furlongs in the Islamorada Stakes. That’s was at the same track and at the same distance as today. A win here and he becomes a threat to the curse of Apollo; he made his winning debut in early January.

Louisiana Derby

Stanford who ran in the above Islamorada Stakes with Materiality certainly rates a decent chance. His 95 Beyer is still faster than anything that International Star has run this year. As usual, Pletcher is splitting up his very talented army among the east and midwest.

War Story is generating some buzz, but as of now, he hasn’t been fast enough to win a race of this level. He certainly could improve — as could any 3YO this time of year — but I prefer to see it on the track.


There are also significant Kentucky Derby points on the line in Dubai with the UAE Derby. My Johnny Be Good ships over from Tampa, which is good because he’ll give us a sense of comparison after the race.  Here’s a video of the Al Bastakiya, the local prep for today’s race, in which Mubtaahij defeated Sir Fever.

Mubaahij already has a bit of a rivalry — renewed tomorrow — with Maftool.

Enjoy a great day of racing!

Prairie Meadows, Race 8, 10:20 P.M. ET

Race of the Day

Prairie Meadows Racetrack, Altoona, Iowa

Race 8, Maiden Special Weight, 1 mile 70 yards, Purse: $30K

A competitive group of maidens is slated for the 8th at Prairie Meadows Racetrack.  The M/L favorite is the entry of Be My Honeycomb/Robinwood (#1, 3/1).  Robinwood is the more impressive of the two, having run well at Oaklawn Park last time out.  He’s been given a brief rest — a good angle for trainer Doug Anderson and has a solid work tab coming into the race.  Pontiff (#4, 6-1) makes his second start of the long layoff and adds blinkers for trainer Kenneth Nolan.  He once ran in the Florida Derby against Derby winner Orb as a maiden.  His last race was productive, and he looms a very solid threat today.  Kerugma (#2, 7-2) draws the advantageous rail and has the speed to win.  Hook Em (#7, 8-1) and Sir Smart Alex (#9, 8-1) figure to be likely pace factors, but overall are a bit too slow.  Flat On (#5, 5-1) has potential, but faces some stiff competition in his first race.  Spotsback (#3, 5-1) stretches out for the first time in eleven lifetime starts.  He’s likely in here as a tune up for a return to maiden claiming sprints.


  1. Will Pontiff realize his early potential?  He has more raw potential than any horse in the race.  If he’s reaches it — something quite possible in his second start for Nolan — he will be tough to beat.
  2. How hot will the pace be?  There’s a bunch of speed on paper, especially with Pontiff adding blinkers.  This could favor Kerugma, but it is very hard to close at Prairie Meadows.
  3. Will Spotsback enjoy the stretchout?  It’s unlikely, but if he does, he could have an ideal pressing style to win.


Pontiff could very well offer some value, depending upon how much the public values the addition of blinkers.  I like him on top. There’s too much pace, however, to accept a short price. Outside of Pontiff, on paper it’s a three horse race with the entry and Kerugma rating good chances. Kerugma is plenty fast enough and could get a good trip. may offer still offer some good value.

We’ll take a deeper look at the odds during the livehost on Twitter @alldayracing at 10:20 P.M. ET.