03/13/2013 2:48PM

Florida Derby drawing little interest, so far

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Tom Keyser
Itsmyluckyday is one of three confirmed runners for the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – At last check, the purse for the Florida Derby is still $1 million and the race is still worth 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, including 100 to the winner. But at last check with the Gulfstream Park racing office, there are still only three 3-year-olds confirmed as starters for the race, the highly regarded trio of reigning 2-year-old champ Shanghai Bobby, Grade 3 Holy Bull winner Itsmyluckyday, and Grade 2 Fountain of Youth hero Orb.

The Grade 1 Florida Derby will be run March 30.

“It’s hard to believe at this point there seems to be so little interest in the Florida Derby,” racing secretary Dan Bork said. “I realize the top three contenders are currently among the leading Kentucky Derby candidates in the country, but it’s still a lot of money, a lot of qualifying points, and the race has been traditionally one of, if not the most successful and productive of all the Derby preps.”

Many top 3-year-olds who have wintered in south Florida are planning to head elsewhere for their final Derby preps. That list includes Verrazano, who is currently being pointed to the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April  6; Revolutionary, presently on course for the Louisiana Derby, also on March 30; Normandy Invasion (Wood); Delhomme (this weekend’s Rebel at Oaklawn); Overanalyze (Sunland Derby); Palace Malice (Louisiana Derby); Uncaptured (Turfway’s Spiral on March 23); Rydilluc (Keeneland’s Blue Grass on April 13); and Capo Bastone (Spiral).

[DERBY WATCH: Top 20 Kentucky Derby contenders with odds and video]

Part of Bork’s problem is that a majority of the premier 3-year-olds stabled in the area come from the same barn, with trainer Todd Pletcher doing his best to try to keep his Derby horses apart for as long as he can.

Bork said he and his staff have already started working the phones trying to solicit potential candidates from near and far into the starting gate for the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.

“I’d love to be able to talk Todd into leaving Verrazano here for the Florida Derby, but I understand the issue he has there with Shanghai Bobby in the race,” Bork said. “I’m hearing many of the other Derby preps could have overflow fields and here we are, for $1 million and all those points, trying to get people to run.”

Steven Lupardi More than 1 year ago
How many more of Pletcher's horses will break down during or after the Derby? Every year he 'meat grinds' his good horses and a few don't ever race again.
Jose More than 1 year ago
Tell that to Dunkirk Jimmy
Jim Fields More than 1 year ago
You Pletcher and Baffert bashers are the epitome of ignorance. If you have one of those big books with all the words in it, look up epitome. Your jealousy is so apparent that it is comical. Success should be congratulated, not dissed. He has all those nice fragile horses, because he does a superior job in race horse management, which includes training, which includes trying to keep these speed freaks, with a flight mentality, sound and healthy.
zerosumzen More than 1 year ago
They're excellent trainers, but it starts with buying the horses. Trainers like Baffert and Pletcher get first pick, including inside info not available to the public, because every breeder wants them to buy and train their horses. Baffert trains speed horses only, so not that hard to know what he's looking for.
Ann Ferland More than 1 year ago
Don't know how it is now, but Baffert used to have some very good judges of young horses buying for him - found him Real Quiet and Silver Charm, two youngsters of talent but not from the 'elite' bloodlines and who would have been overlooked by those looking for 'top prospects' for that reason. Baffert likes to train for speed it is true, but not all of his runners have been 'speed' horses - Real Quiet ran in midpack before he would make his move on the turn; Silver Charm tended to sit at the front of the second flight. Don't let current stars like Game on Dude and Flashback skew your view of him; he can train horses who have different styles, but he happens to have a bunch of front-running types right now.
russell More than 1 year ago
Wes thats why its the current system is broken. It also tells you the top 2 are very fast.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
Well, well, well; Nobody wants 100 points? I hope they get at least 6 starters. Winner gets 100 pts and the giant's share of the purse. 2nd place 40 pts, 3rd place 20 pts and 4th place 10 pts. Come on trainers and owners you may not want the points but there is big purse money at stake.
Kermit Pleasant More than 1 year ago
Maybe B. Baffert will send in his "third" strings to Fla.to test what he got to work with for the derby aka.War Academy!,Power Broker!
Horse Cents More than 1 year ago
Not gonna happen.
Keith More than 1 year ago
Power Broker is on the radar for the Wood Memorial, and Baffert doesn't exactly consider him to be "third string"., Kermit! Keith L.
Billy Spathanas More than 1 year ago
How true about Power Broker, will definatly need a little luck ..
edb More than 1 year ago
Probably the best field with just those three horses. Why run for fourth place points when you can cash a first or second place somewhere else and get the 40 points needed to get in. Like to see a regular trainer beat the mega trainers. Also the later races should have less points given out. Still letting one hit wonders getting in.
Keith More than 1 year ago
Look what they got out of the San Pillipe, due to the race falling apart! Very similar to that KY Derby that gave us Giacomo and Closing Argument 1-1! Keith L.! Keith L.
fbwinners More than 1 year ago
Yes it's true TAP has a ton of 3yo colts and by the way he is 1/31 in the Kentucky Derby. At this time his only ture KY Derby horse is Verrazano. This horse is real and we all can bash him but he is built like a KY Derby horse and had more trouble than spoken about in the TB Derby. If he somehow would of lost that race all you were heard about was his stumble and getting trapped on the rail. This comment by JR speak volumes about this colt. He stated after the race that Verrazano hated the track and he still won for fun. The key to this colt is the Wood and how he handles the Churchill Downs surface. The Fla. Derby will fill by entries in two weeks. This is just a ploy for the race too fill.
Nathan More than 1 year ago
if your looking for points, you're runing for 4th in the race. these are 3 very good horses with diffeent running tyles. if bobby is loose on lead, it's over. guess what? it's over! g.p.is so one dimensional favoring speed. orb will shine in ky. with a blistering pace to close into.
Keith More than 1 year ago
10 points for 4th is meaningless if you can't fit another race in. Not with just 5 weeks to the KY Derby, Nathan. But you have it on the money about the GP track favoring speed. This race is just a conditioner for Orb, as he has the points out of his win in the FOY! Keith L>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Why anyone would want to run an expensive colt there is beyond me. Look at all the breakdowns of 3 yo's who have run multiple times over that track since its been reconfigured. Too many to mention, with Violence just being the latest in a long list. Tough to keep a colt sound running on asphalt.
Wesley Wright More than 1 year ago
What's wrong with the track?
Jeffries Will More than 1 year ago
so run them over the inner at aqueduct? brilliant!
nysteve27 More than 1 year ago
Do you really think if Shug or the owners thought that of the track they would run their horses there? Or Bobby connections for that matter? Get real