The 2020 Florida Derby takes place on Saturday afternoon at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida. Year in and year out, this race stands as one of the most important Kentucky Derby prep races on the schedule. This year’s event takes on added importance for bettors looking for some action in a barren sports world.
The run-up to the 2020 Triple Crown season, usually a busy time for horse racing, has been disrupted by concerns over the spread of the Corona virus. Many top Kentucky Derby prep races have been cancelled are postponed.
As a matter of fact, the Derby itself has been postponed from its usual date in May to September. It’s expected that the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes, the other two legs of the Triple Crown, will soon follow suit and also postpone until later in the year.
Yet none of that changes the rules for Derby qualifying, at least it hasn’t yet. If you compete and win one of the assigned Derby prep races, you will likely enough qualifying points to make to the race. And that’s still the ultimate goal for three-year-old horses, regardless of when the race actually gets held.
The Florida Derby Forges Ahead
At press time, it looked like Gulfstream Park was sticking by its decision to go forward with the Florida Derby on Saturday. The track has continued operations in its winter meet, albeit without fans since the onset of the virus. Each year, the meet’s highlight is the Florida Derby, a Grade One event for three-year-olds that, this year, carries a purse of $750,000.
Considering its status as one of the few Kentucky Derby prep races still running, the 2020 Florida Derby takes on extra-added importance. The last big prep race that hasn’t yet been moved is the Santa Anita Derby, slated for next week. But there’s no way of knowing this far in advance if that race will be run.
As it turns out, the 2020 Florida Derby would have been quite the draw even if it weren’t one of the only sporting events still taking place in the world. The tentative field of ten is stacked, with several horses in the group considered to be among the best in the three-year-old ranks. Certainly, the winner will stamp himself as one to watch come September when they finally do get to Churchill Downs.
For horse racing fans, the 2020 Florida Derby should provide a good indication of what to expect going forward. But it also gives them a chance at a meaty betting opportunity at a time when, quite frankly, there aren’t many to go around. And with uncertainty still hanging heavy in the air, such an opportunity might not come around again anytime soon.
With that in mind, we’re here to provide you with a 2020 Florida Derby. We’ll take you through the field and look at each horse’s chances. Finally, we’ll give you our predictions for the horses we think will be at the top of the order of finish when all is said and done.
2020 Florida Derby Details
When: Saturday, March 28, 2020
Where: Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida
How Long: 1 1/8
How Much: $750,000
2020 Florida Derby Contenders
#1 As Seen On TV (Kelly Breen) 12 to 1
It’s always difficult to judge where a horse should be placed, as in whether it’s a sprinter or a distance horse. Certainly, this colt appeared to have a bright future around one turn last year when he churned out wins in two of three. But he was stretched out for a couple prep races this year, coming up short in both.
Because of his getaway speed, As Seen On TV might have a chance to get to the front end in the 2020 Florida Derby even with the rail to start. But sustaining that speed for 1 1/8 miles might too big of a leap for him to make. It’s easy to imagine him caving late as a non-factor.
#2 Shivaree (Ralph E. Nicks) 30 to 1
It was a bit of a blasé start to the career of Shivaree, as he hit the board in just one of four out of the gate. But once he picked up a maiden win, he seemed to build confidence. Stepping up into graded stakes competition for his last few races, he has come away with back-to-back second-place finishes.
Still, he would have looked like more of a factor in this one if he could have won the Hutcheson, where the field wasn’t that daunting. It’s certainly nowhere near as daunting as what he’ll be facing on Saturday. Probably an also-ran in this one.
#3 Disc Jockey (Saffie Joseph Jr.) 20 to 1
It seems like Joseph has had horses prominently placed in a high percentage of the few Prep races that have taken place lately. Disc Jockey might not be one of the strongest of that bunch, however. The son of Bodemeister has some bloodlines on his side, but the performance hasn’t yet measured up.
His last race was a second-place finish in a rather modest stakes race at Gulfstream. And that came at seven furlongs, meaning that he has to stretch out as well as move up. It’s doubtful that the pedigree and connections will be enough to get him across as a long shot.
#4 Soros (Gustavo Delgado) 30 to 1
When looking for long shots, it’s never a bad idea to take a stab at a horse coming off a layoff. Most other handicappers will disregard them out of sight, meaning that the odds are somewhat unfairly skewed against them. As a result, you might be able to get good value.
All that said, Soros, who hasn’t raced since November, probably won’t figure here. This field is just a little bit more high-caliber than some of the other prep races that have taken place so far. As a result, a long shot will have to have more going for it than just some potential value before you should consider it.
#5 Gouverneur Morris (Todd Pletcher) 8 to 1
First of all, the presence of Pletcher has to make you stand up and take notice. He has dominated this race, with five Florida Derby wins including four of the last six. One caveat is that many of those horses were more highly-regarded according to the odds than the two entries he has in the 2020 Florida Derby.
Gouverneur Morris is taking a stout step up after winning an allowance/optional claimer in his last race at Tampa. But the fact that was second in Grade 1 company as a 2-year-old is a good sign that he won’t be too bothered by the level of competition here. He certainly should be on your short list when your handicapping is complete.
#6 Ajaaweed (Kiaran McLaughlin) 20 to 1
The longer the race, the better this McLaughlin trainee should fare. He prefers to sit back early in the race and hope that a tiring field comes back to him in the closing strides. As a result, the extra distance should suit him quite nicely.
Ajaaweed has more than style going for him. He has been in some tough company in New York and Kentucky as well as Florida, and he has acquitted himself well in those races. The only concern is that a slow pace likely dooms to something like a third or fourth-place finish at best; he needs some rabbits to have a real chance at winning.
#7 Tiz The Law (Barclay Tagg) 6 to 5
The 6 to 5 morning-line odds will probably drop to odds-on once people starting making their wagers on the 2020 Florida Derby. Tiz The Law has won three out of four to this point in his career, including a Grade 1 last year at Saratoga. His lone start this year was a nice graded stakes score on the Gulfstream oval.
That win at 1 1/16 miles answered some of the questions about distance. Throw in the fact that he’s making his second start off the layoff, meaning he should be in prime shape. This is a deserving favorite and it’s going to take either bad luck or a special performance to beat him.
#8 My First Grammy (Amador Sanchez) 50 to 1
Many people projected ten entries for the 2020 Florida Derby, and this colt wasn’t one of them. It’s understandable why not: He is still a maiden up against a field of impressive stakes winners. This seems like a shot in the dark.
My First Grammy raced just two weeks ago at Gulfstream, which is somewhat unusual scheduling for a horse trying to win a graded stakes. He has been getting closer to his maiden win. But he isn’t going to get it in this field, nor should he be anywhere near the top of the order.
#9 Independence Hall (Michael Trombetta) 9 to 2
Are we looking at a horse trending in the wrong direction? Or is Independence Hall a prime bounce-back candidate from his first career loss? How you feel about that will likely decide whether or not you take the plunge on him at mid-priced odds.
The concern here is that the three wins to start his career never quite ascended to the level of overly impressive. Even though he made it as high as a Grade 3 win, the horses he defeated haven’t distinguished themselves in other races. That makes it tough to recommend this one even with his former success.
#10 Candy Tycoon (Todd Pletcher) 20 to 1
Pletcher’s second entry is one that took a big step up in his last race. After taking seemingly forever to break his maiden (it came in his fifth career start), Candy’s Tycoon went right up the ladder to the Fountain Of Youth and battled Ete Indien quite well, finishing second. Ete Indien is in this field as well, but he gets saddled with an even tougher post than this one.
The distance seems to suit this colt, which means that he’s OK on that account. He can be a factor as long as he doesn’t have it too tough early on in the race before the field settles in. Not a bad option for your exotic plays.
#11 Sassy But Smart (Kendall Condie) 50 to 1
This is another one of the horses who were a bit of a surprise entry to fill out the field. Other than making Ete Indien’s spot on the outside even more troublesome, however, it’s hard to see Sassy But Smart making too much of an impact. Certainly, the post doesn’t improve his chances either.
Sassy But Smart at least has some graded stakes experience. He comes off a fourth in a Grade 3 at Gulfstream last month. But that field was nothing like what he’ll be up against in the 2020 Florida Derby, so you can throw him out.
#12 Ete Indien (Patrick Biancone) 4 to 1
With the exception of an absolute clunker last year at Keeneland, this horse has been extremely consistent. He just missed against Tiz The Law at the start of February. Four weeks later, he was back in the Grade 3 Fountain Of Youth and prevailed with a game effort.
For him to win the 2020 Florida Derby though, he has to prove that he has improved enough to get the better of Tiz The Law this time around. More importantly, he has to do it for a really tricky post. It might happen, but it’s doubtful that the odds will be long enough for you to take that chance.
2020 Florida Derby Pick
Tiz The Law is good, but maybe not odds-on good against this field. You’re better off going with Gouverneur Morris for the win at a nice price at the best Florida Derby betting sites. Follow that up on your ticket with Tiz The Law for the place and Ajaaweed for the show.
Jim Beviglia joined Gamblingsites.org as a staff writer in 2018, parlaying his years of freelance writing into contributions on a number of different topics. He handles the sport of horse racing for GamblingSites.org and the intersection between the worlds of cryptocurrency and online gambling in a weekly blog.
For his full-time job, Jim handles the television and track announcing duties at a h ...
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