No race has had a better run at producing recent Kentucky Derby winners than the $1 million Florida Derby (gr. I), scheduled to be held this Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Five of the last twelve winners of the nine-furlong Florida Derby have gone on to claim victory in the “Run for the Roses,” including the last two Nyquist in 2016 and Always Dreaming in 2017. Suffice to say, if you’re looking for the Kentucky Derby winner, it pays to keep an eye on what transpires at Gulfstream Park.
Nine horses have turned out to contest this year’s Florida Derby, and I like the chances of #8 Audible. Although he is the 9-5 favorite on the morning line, I feel like Audible has gotten lost in the shuffle a bit, having stayed essentially out of sight and out of mind since winning the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. II) at Gulfstream nearly two months ago.
Audible might not be the flavor of the day, but his Holy Bull effort was legitimately good and a repeat would make him difficult to beat on Saturday. The Todd Pletcher-trained colt entered the Holy Bull off of a maiden win at Aqueduct two months prior, and while his pre-Holy Bull workouts at Palm Beach Downs were something less than eye-catching, that didn’t seem to affect his performance at all, as Audible tracked the early pace before seizing command and bursting away in the homestretch, running the final five-sixteenths of a mile in a terrific :29.92 seconds to win by 5 ½ lengths.
Audible’s turn-of-foot in the Holy Bull was breathtaking, and for his effort he received a 105 BRIS speed figure and a massive 112 BRIS Late Pace rating. That was his third triple-digit BRIS Late Pace rating from four starts, and drawing post position eight in the Florida Derby should give him options to work out a perfect trip settling behind the leaders before rallying in the homestretch. This isn’t the most creative opinion, but I believe Audible will win again in the Florida Derby.
One longshot that I find interesting is #5 Storm Runner, who got shut off abruptly when trying to rally up the rail in the Fountain of Youth. Overall, Storm Runner received a pretty uncomfortable trip that day while racing in tight quarters along the inside, so I’m tempted to forgive his seventh-place finish and consider him a candidate to rebound. Don’t forget, two starts back he posted a 102 BRIS speed figure when winning an allowance race at Gulfstream by a neck over the well-regarded #9 Mississippi, who is also running in the Florida Derby.
I’ll key Audible in my wagers while hoping that Storm Runner finishes in the top three to boost the payoffs: