The Florida Derby may very well be the most important event of the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” Championship Series.
The winner of this contest will earn the right to compete in the “Run for the Roses” at the iconic Churchill Downs Saturday, September 5. That race was recently postponed from May 2 due to COVID-19 precautions.
Saturday, March 28 marks the 68th running of the acclaimed race at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.
The Florida Derby has produced more Kentucky Derby champions than any other in history.
Road to the Kentucky Derby rides on…without spectators
Consistent with the horse racing industry throughout the country and last Saturday’s Louisiana Derby, the race will run without spectators.
Traditionally, the Florida Derby awards a purse of $1 million. With the closing of Gulfstream’s casino, and the subsequent elimination of on-track wagering, the prize pool has been reduced to $750,000.
It retains the status of a Grade I Stakes race, even without the typical seven-figure purse.
We have all you need to know to bet the 2020 Florida Derby right here in our betting preview. When it comes to actually placing your wagers, you can head to TVG’s app PA Bets if you live in Pennsylvania. You get a $300 risk-free bet when signing up through our links here.
Florida Derby overview and factoids
The race is officially named “The Curlin Florida Derby.” Curlin was the highest North American money-earner from 2008 to 2016.
Six winners of the Florida Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby since the year 2000.
Additionally, the Florida Derby awards enough “Road to the Kentucky Derby” points to its second, third, and fourth finishers to allow for the possibility that one or more of those colts could also qualify for the Kentucky Derby.
Post time is 6:36 p.m. EST, and the race will be televised during the FS1 “America’s Day at the Races” broadcast.
Track conditions and historical trends
At the time of writing, the forecast for Hallandale Beach calls for full sun with a high of 83 degrees Fahrenheit and Southeast winds of 10 to 20 mph. If this holds true, the field will be running into some level of headwind down the stretch.
This forecast ensures that the track condition will be dry fast. The race is 1 1/8 miles long and has two turns.
Only one colt in the field has raced over 1 1/16 miles. For that reason, closing strength should be valued.
Gulfstream Park’s two-turn races on dirt have historically favored post positions 1-7. Although this is not a be-all-end-all, it should be considered when handicapping this race.
2020 Florida Derby projected entries (in order of post position)
Note: The Beyer speed figure (or number) is referenced multiple times below. It is a statistical measure that represents how fast a horse ran that particular race. The number is calculated based on final time, the race distance, and the specific track variance.
Horse names are italicized if they are racing in the projected field of runners. Opening odds are displayed after each runner’s name, followed by performance details pertaining to each entrant.
As Seen On TV (12-1):
- Has two wins in five starts and has been in the money in all five.
- Has yet to win at a mile or longer although both of those starts were against quality or premier competition.
- Finished third in his last start with an 83 Beyer number behind Ete Indien and Candy Tycoon in the Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream.
- Likes to get out of the gate and will try his best to stay at or near the top of the pack.
- He has never started at or near the rail like he will in this attempt.
- Has three wins in eight starts and has been in the money in six of nine attempts.
- Only raced a mile or longer in one of his nine starts
- Has posted a Beyer number over 79 only once.
- Finished fourth in a six-runner field in his last start.
- Two of his three wins have come from the number one or two post position. So he does have that going for him here.
Disc Jockey (20-1):
- Has two wins in three starts and has finished in the money in all three.
- He has only one start at one mile or longer, which he won. This will be his first race against top competition.
- Finished second in his last start with a respectable 89 Beyer over seven furlongs.
- Has had adventurous trips in all three of his starts, bumping and veering in two of them and going at least three-wide to the outside at some point in every race.
- Is unpredictable but has some talent. His best efforts may be ahead of him.
- Has one win in two starts and has finished in the money in both.
- Both of his races were mile-long contests. Like Disc Jockey, this newcomer has yet to race against top-flight competition and has not raced since November 30, 2019.
- Soros posted a pedestrian 73 Beyer in both of his races and has come out of the gate slow in both before settling into stride and coming up.
Gouvernour Morris (8-1):
- Has two wins in three starts while placing second in the race he did not win.
- Is coming off a win in which he posted an 87 Beyer as a follow-up to his second-place effort behind Maxfield in the Grade I Breeder’s Futurity Stakes at Keeneland. You can watch that race here.
- This will be Gouvernour Morris’ first race at Gulfstream Park.
- Has one win in five starts and has finished behind both Independence Hall and Gouvernour Morris in previous races.
- This colt has only posted a Beyer number above 79 once in his career and has not won any of the three graded stakes races he has entered.
- Is typically in the back half of the pack at the midway point in the race before improving his position late.
Tiz the Law (6-5):
- The early heavy favorite, this colt has won three of four starts and showed in the race he did not win.
- Overcame a less-than-ideal trip in his last start to post a 100 Beyer number and an impressive three-length victory over Ete Indien and the rest of the field at the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. You can watch it here.
- This colt already has two graded-stakes victories to his credit and is attempting to cement himself as a Kentucky Derby favorite on Saturday.
- Is a classic stalker, hanging around in the second through fourth positions before turning on the jets into the final turn. His running style should play well for the longer distance of the Florida Derby.
My First Grammy (50-1):
- Has raced three times and is yet to win, although he has finished in the money in two starts.
- This colt has yet to post a Beyer number over 75 and this will be his first test against top-flight competition.
Independence Hall (9-2):
- Has won three of four starts while placing second in his most recent effort.
- Owns the top Beyer number on the card, posting a blistering 101 figure that secured a 12-length victory last November at Aqueduct’s Grade III race, The Nashua. You can watch that race here.
- Likes to be out front by the midway point in the race, and he very well could do so again here. If so, the question will be whether he has enough in the tank down the stretch to hold off Tiz the Law and the rest of the field.
Candy Tycoon (20-1):
- Has only won one of six starts but has finished in the money in five of six.
- Is coming off a second-place finish behind Ete Indien at the Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. As Seen On TV finished third.
- Has posted two consecutive mid-80’s Beyer figures and secured his first win two starts ago in January at Gulfstream.
Sassy But Smart (50-1):
- Has won one of four starts while finishing in the money in three.
- Started his career slowly with two consecutive 55 Beyer number efforts before posting a win and an 81 number in his last two.
- Finished fourth in his last start, which was his first graded-stakes race attempt.
Ete Indien (4-1):
- Has won three of five starts, while finishing in the money in four.
- Has posted Beyer figures of 95-plus in two consecutive starts and is coming off a win at the Grade II Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. He finished ahead of both Candy Tycoon and As Seen On TV in that race, which you can view here.
- Two starts ago at the Grade III Holy Bull, Ete Indien challenged Tiz the Law before ceding by three lengths down the stretch.
- Ete Indien and his speed will likely be at or near the front of the pack with the likes of Independence Hall at the midway point in the race.
- Although the outside post position is a tough draw here, Ete Indien has the talent to win, and the question will be whether he has trained up enough stamina to avoid a repeat of what happened against Tiz the Law at the Holy Bull last month.