03/19/2010 7:55PM

Florida Derby Time


Five of Saturday's graded stakes are at Gulfstream Park and they'll be run in sequence as the 7th through 11th races, culminating in the Florida Derby, the first Grade 1 race of the year for 3-year-old males:


The Florida Derby drew a field of 11 that includes only two stakes-winners, 5-2 ML favorite Rule and 3-1 second choice Radiohead. Their nine opponents include seven who have yet to win more than a maiden race, including co-third choices Miner's Reserve, coming off a 5 1/2-length romp, and Lentenor, Barbaro's full brother, who will be making his dirt debut.

I've got no knocks on Rule against this bunch but there might be some money to be made ducking Radiohead, who's unproven routing, and Lentenor, a likely underlay due to sentimental support.

For those without HRTV, the NTRA is giving a live webcast another shot after "technical difficulties" locked out almost everyone who tried to watch live streaming of the New Orleans Ladies and Santa Margarita last Saturday. The NTRA site nearly crashed from unprecedented demand. This week's webcast of the Florida Derby is scheduled for 6 to 7 p.m.

"[F]ans will be automatically diverted from our site to a different one containing the live Florida Derby video should anything unforeseen go awry," said NTRA President Alex Waldrop. "This week I prefer to wear a belt AND a pair of suspenders."

The 12-race Florida Derby card also includes the G2 Bonnie Miss and G2 Swale, with D'Funnybone 6-5 in the latter. D'Funnybone will be shooting for his fourth G2 victory after winning the Saratoga Special and Belmont Futurity last year and the Hutcheson Feb. 20. He concluded his juvenile campaign by finishing 13th and last in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Can you name the horse who finished 12th and last one year earlier in the BC Juve?

Yup, Mine That Bird.

Other notable last-place finishers in that race: Grand Slam (1997), A. P. Valentine (2000) and Cuvee (2003).

--Last Tuesday, I went up (3:41) and back (4:05) to Saratoga for the day to find a new house, as our former landlords got a little ambitious and tried to hit us with a 37 percent rent increase for the four extra nights of the 2010 season. Found a perfectly nice replacement at last year's prices.

I can report that the town looked as inviting as ever on a sparkling, spring-like day. They had a milder winter than we downstaters did and I didn't see a speck of snow on the ground. Everyone up there is nervous about NYRA's ongoing cash-flow problems stemming from the state's failure to honor the franchise agreement and provide promised funds until the Aqueduct racino is up and running, but still expecting  there to be an Opening Day on Friday, July 23.

blackseabass More than 1 year ago
...As a resident troll at SA for 30 years I agree with all that are opposed to BC choosing SA as a permanent home for BC. I don't like being gouged at the gate for a big day of racing when I'm one of the few that attend them on a daily basis left. They should keep a rotation like in the past. It is the most equitable way to proceed. Consistent drug laws would go a long way toward the improvment of the BC and racing in general. Horses that race on Bute are line-outs or no-shows in some states. The BC board may not be made up of morons but they are probably not geniuses either.
Don Reed More than 1 year ago
Oh DRAT. Steve, never mind the 37% increase. The price of betting Zito in the Derby just went up 100%. Pool 3, Ice Box, here I come. Ideal Outcome: 1st: Jackson Bend (47-1 Pool Two); 2nd: Ice Box (prob. @ 8-1) on May 1st. Hopefully, Zeets won't go where he has been before: Running everything in the barn in the race. What year was it that he ran @ 5 horses and not one hit the board? Good to see the horsemen boycotting the AQ 1st race.
Vinny Blengs More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, Just got back from FL Derby. Gulfstream sure not the same since they turned it into a casino-shopping mall. I remember the Old Gulf with giant back yard & great 1999 Breeders Cup Memories. I bring this up because I live in Saratoga Springs & Great to hear the Spa talk.Drove by track on way home & This Is A Real Race Track!! Looking forward to It!!
dan c More than 1 year ago
Steve, What do you think of this idea. Churchill changes the graded earning ranking to ONLY DIRT races!!!!!! Then we got the best DIRT horses. If you earn your money on turf or fake rubber it dont count. It sure would make the dirt tracks happy!!!! [Dan: It's a non-starter as it would never fly with California and Kentucky, as well as precluding a lot of global participation. -SC]
rawlawltd More than 1 year ago
Hats off to those that have been archiving the DRF's from days of yore. It gave me a chance to undertake a labor of love that I have wanted to do for years; calculate a Beyer Speed Figure for Secretariat's Belmont Stakes. Although only guesstimate "par" figs could be used to make the number, most of the data seemed to make good sense. Only one pain in the ass horse seemed to screw up the data by winning a non-winners of 4 by 9 lenghts. After interpolating a number for him, I made the fig for Big Red a not-to-shabby ONE THIRTY NINE!!!, 139!!! Have you Steve, or anyone else ever tried to get a number for that race?? I'd be interested to see what others thought. Again, kudos to those undertaking the archive process. Oh, & by the way, that pain in the ass horse that screwed up the data never did much after June 9, 1973; but just for posterity, his name was FOREGO!!! [Andy Beyer did the same exercise in 1973 and came up with something that would translate to today's 140. I tried it myself in the 90's and wrote a piece about it that I can't find at the moment but I'm pretty sure I was within a point or two of that. -SC]
T Coyle More than 1 year ago
Steve, I find it unusual, and atypical, that your Landlord in Saratoga wanted a 37% increase in rent for the extra four days of the 2010 Spa meet. The largest listing of summer rentals in Saratoga, from Racing City Realty, reflects that the majority of houses are being offered for slight discounts this year, as they did in 2009. Obviously the economy plays a big part. My Landlord offered a 5% discount from last year's price based on half down by Mar 15, & balance by Jul 1. Of course, he's a super nice guy.
george Quinn More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, I see where the Preakness is allowing unlimited refills of beer for 20 bucks. What in the name of Man 'O War is going on here? In one of the toughest states in the union on drunk driving. Why in anyones head would it be ok to let 20 thousand college kids drink till they drop? This surpises even me who is never surprised at anything. Gerge in Tampa
jayb More than 1 year ago
I read Santa Anita (Oak Tree) is the preferred choice because of its non profit entity status. Belmont is not because the NYRA can't agree on anything beyond pizza toppings and Churchill will not be chosen unless it gives BC a huge tax break by shifting the tax withheld in Kentucky to the BC. What is going on here ? Thanks. See you at the Spa.
peewee More than 1 year ago
Thank you for another well conceived and written common sense piece. It would seem that the Big 3 venues and a wildcard 4th should be implemented for reasons you espoused. It would seem that the BC Directors are looking out for ther own self interests in wanting to implement a single site to reduce costs and ease organization to management. They are lost in their vision and need to be reminded of the original purpose of the BC, as you have ably written
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Matt Hegarty's excellent article in the Saturday pullout section could have been a few pages in an espionage novel. The folks at BC are so cloak and dagger I'm surprised he could get anyone to talk, for attribution or not. It seems like they have come up with a new double speak term - stakeholders. How about the fans? Aren't we stakeholders in this game? I guess not in the eyes of BC, or how could a single member of the Board of Directors propose or vote for a proposition that spits in the face of the majority of this country's racing fans? I had to chuckle upon reading your column Steve. Every one of the BC's fraudulent trial balloons Hindenberged in quick succession. This by the editor and publisher of the industry flagship publication. What will their response be? Send forth another paid liar, if that. It just seems to me that there is a hidden agenda at BC. Don't know what it is, who's driving it, or what it's goals are. It can be rejected if the three main racing jurisdictions in the US would only put up a common front. It's not that long ago that I remember looking forward to a BC in California with the thought "it'll be nice to see Santa Anita again" - now I just feel disenfranchised. It's a shame, I really feel our game is better with a year end championship than it was before we had the BC. It's even more of a tragedy that this group of characters at BC is ruining something we all used to look forward to with great anticipation.