03/25/2015 2:10PM

Materiality could play spoiler in Florida Derby

Barbara D. Livingston
Materiality, winner of the Islamorada, will start Saturday in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. – The rematch between Upstart and Itsaknockout will draw most of the prerace attention, but it is the undefeated Materiality who may be the wild card in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby.

Materiality was an easy winner of his only two starts and now occupies the spot vacated by the highly regarded Khozan, who originally was targeted as stablemate Itsaknockout’s partner in the Florida Derby. Materiality is lightly raced and will try to overcome the long-standing Kentucky Derby jinx of not having started as a 2-year-old if he gets that far.

Materiality, a son of Afleet Alex owned by Alto Racing Stable, did not launch his career until Jan. 11 when capturing a six-furlong allowance race over a sloppy track by 4 1/4 widening lengths. He stretched out to 1 1/8 miles and got on dry land for the first time in the Islamorada overnight stakes eight weeks later and was even more impressive, winning by nearly six lengths over his well-regarded stablemate Stanford.

“He didn’t come to us until we got to Palm Beach Downs in late September, and I think he was close to a race in December,” said Pletcher, when asked why Materiality never raced at 2. “He got what I thought was a very good race going a mile and one-eighth [in the Islamorada], and the time was very solid. I just hope now he’s got enough seasoning to take that next step up.”

Pletcher said he wrestled over the decision of whether to bring Materiality back in the Florida Derby, having only 22 days between starts, or to ship him north for either the Wood Memorial or Blue Grass, both a week from Saturday.

“This is just kind of the way things unfolded,” Pletcher said. “We were trying to figure out whether it was better to run here off three weeks rest or wait and ship to New York and possibly lose our jockey in the process. On one hand, seven extra days can be substantial, and on the other, it’s not that big a deal when talking about shipping and all the other variables involved. It’s also kind of hard to move a horse who is undefeated over a particular surface, as Materiality is here.”

:: FLORIDA DERBY DAY: Get PPs, watch Saturday’s Gulfstream card live

Both Itsaknockout and Materiality came out winners in Tuesday afternoon’s post-position draw for the Florida Derby. They will begin from posts 4 and 7, respectively, much to the delight of Pletcher, who figures both horses should be forwardly placed from the outset.

The draw was not as kind, however, to the favorite Upstart or another of the key contenders, the Tampa Bay Derby runner-up Ami’s Flatter. Upstart will break from the extreme outside in post 9, with Ami’s Flatter, a late addition to the field, starting from the rail.

“It was certainly my last choice,” said Rick Violette, trainer of Upstart. “I might have been on a plane for New York if it had been 10 or 11. Obviously, it’s not ideal, but we’ll have to deal with it. I would have preferred an inside post and an inside trip, where he could get a little schooling, since he’s been outside and in the clear in most of his other races.”

Gulfstream Park will offer a special daily double wager coupling the $10 million Dubai World Cup with the Florida Derby. The wager will be offered not only throughout North America but also in Australia, South Africa, and Germany.

Post time for the World Cup is 1 p.m. Eastern and the Florida Derby is set for 6:48 p.m.

JoeyGetz More than 1 year ago
Everyone talking about buckin the trend of winning the Kentucky derby. Like to know the stats on these lightly seasoned horses winning the final derby preps
Scott More than 1 year ago
This is the toughest overall Derby prep we've seen this year. I really like Upstart and if he wins this one, then I'm on him. Part of me thinks I'll be on whoever wins this one, but if Materiality wins, then I won't be. Let's just face the bitter facts, it's been over 100 years since a horse bucked the trend of not running at 2. Three races are just not enough seasoning. Curlin couldn't do it and he was a MONSTER! Materiality has yet to even win a significant race, so the Florida Derby is a BIG step up. We'll see, I do LOVE his sire Afleet Alex.
tommy More than 1 year ago
Easy bet!! Materiality has highest vo2 max and highest lactate threshold !! He is the clear winner !!! Plus he's the only horse who ran 1 1/8 @ 1:49 which is good and 6 F @ 1:10 on sloppy track which means he has speed, and has a total package waiting to be shipped to the kentucky derby!! I'm not a pletcher fan, but calculations are calculations, and this is what I do!!
Tim Sr. More than 1 year ago
Put the pipe down tommy.............last night you suddenly jumped on the Firing Line band wagon, tonight it's Materiality. I said you change your mind more than your underwear. If Materiality tanks Saturday you'll probably forget about it to remind us you had the trifecta multiple times with three other horses.
tommy More than 1 year ago
He's a lightly raced horse and because he entered this race , I mentioned him for kentucky derby !!! Why is it bad I predict all the winners of the kentucky derby prep races ?? Good money to be made if materiality wins !!! I will play $2 trifecta, $2 exacta and $1 superfecta in this race with materiality on top !!! I play 10 cent super 10 times so I don't pay taxes lol ; ) if materiality loses, then I lose. If I'm not betting upstart in kentucky derby, why would I bet him in this race when he's not the best horse! I'm not always changing my mind , if materiality did not run in any derby prep race, I would not have mentioned him, but since he is, and he has the highest vo2 max and lactate threshold, he is one of the better ones !!
Robert Hagood More than 1 year ago
Please explain how you know his vow max and lactate threshold, have you run blood work on him or tested him at a Nike lab???
tommy More than 1 year ago
U are vey funny! You know nike can't afford me!! But the NFL can!! I work during the NFL combine, doing various test and obtaining lots of data for the coaches to see which players they will draft. We do some field test that can accurately predict vo2 max and assess your lactate threshold! A max run test predicts vo2 max and lactate threshold ( beep test ) and 40 yard dash assessing your anaerobic capacity! We also use vertical jump to assess overall power in your legs! Just look at materiality fractions and you will see he has high vo2 and lactate threshold! Most horses tire out after running one mile @ 1:36 in 1 1/8 race but not materiality and finished @ 1:49 !!
tommy More than 1 year ago
I will also use Amis flatter in pick 4, since it is my favorite 3 year old from woodbine !! Amis flatter is very dangerous but I think materiality is a lot better right now!!
tommy More than 1 year ago
Looks like I was right as materiality destroyed upstart !! Materiality winner of Florida derby!! Il be singing the new song money in my pocket !!!!!!!!
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
Scott More than 1 year ago
Afleet Alex is one of my favorites! Anybody who hasn't watched his Preakness need to go to youtube right now!!! One of the greatest performances I've ever seen! Oh and his Belmont wasn't bad either. For some inexplicable reason, they chose to run him close to the too hot pace in the Derby allowing a grinder like Giacomo to slide by.
Union_Rags More than 1 year ago
Start me up.
Michael Infurna More than 1 year ago
Another Pletcher rush job to get another Derby starter!!
saratogajunkie More than 1 year ago
27% take-out for the double... Ugh