Updated on 09/17/2011 10:05AM

Trust N Luck second in popularity contest

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
California shipper Empire Maker is a 9-5 favorite in Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Ralph Ziadie doesn't get it. His 3-year-old Trust N Luck won the Grade 1 Fountain of Youth by 5 1/4 lengths and appears to be the lone speed in the Florida Derby as well as only one of two stakes winners in the field. Still, Trust N Luck was relegated to the 2-1 second choice on the track morning line behind California shipper Empire Maker (9-5) for Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

"I think my horse does not get the respect he deserves for what he's done,' Ziadie said following the draw. "Maybe they don't like Florida-breds or Ralph Ziadie."

Though Empire Maker, a Kentucky-bred son of 1990 Florida and Kentucky Derby winner Unbridled, has only a maiden win from three starts, Gulfstream line-maker Chuck Streva thought that in the simulcasting era, when wagering takes place around the country, the high-powered connections of trainer Bobby Frankel and jockey Jerry Bailey could attract enough money to send Empire Maker off the favorite. Streva noted that Ten Cents a Shine, ridden by Bailey, was the 5-2 favorite in the Fountain of Youth.

"It's a big race on a Saturday and a lot of people are watching, and they're very popular around the country," Streva said of Bailey and Frankel. "I know [Trust N Luck] has better numbers, but he does not have as popular a trainer or a rider."

As expected, a field of seven was entered Wednesday morning for the Florida Derby, run at nine furlongs. First post for Saturday's 12-race card will be noon Eastern with the Florida Derby going as race 8 with a 4:15 p.m. post. The race will be shown live on ESPN2.

Trust N Luck will try to become the 12th horse to win both the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby, joining a list that includes Kentucky Derby winners Tim Tam and Spectacular Bid, as well as In Reality, Fly So Free, and Thunder Gulch. While it will only be Trust N Luck's second start of the year, the Florida Derby will be his final prep for the Kentucky Derby on May 3.

"Before the Fountain of Youth they said it would be difficult to bring a horse off a two-month layoff and win, and he proved them wrong," Ziadie said.

Trust N Luck, who wired the field in the Fountain of Youth, will most likely try the same tactics Saturday after drawing the rail. Cornelio Velasquez will ride.

"I don't see any speed in the race. I would expect him to be on the lead, but I'll leave that completely up to the rider," Ziadie said.

Empire Maker, who finished third in the Remsen and second in the Sham Stakes, drew post 6. He could show more speed as he will be equipped with blinkers for the first time. Formal Attire, who drew post 7, has made his last two starts with blinkers and will likely be up close early too.

In between Trust N Luck and those two in the starting gate, in order, will be Supah Blitz, Midway Cat, Indy Dancer, and Senor Swinger.

1 TRUST N LUCK 122 R. Ziadie C. Velasquez 2-1
2 SUPAH BLITZ 122 M. Tortora R. Homeister Jr.8-1
3 MIDWAY CAT 122 R. Hiles J. Chavez 5-1
4 INDY DANCER 122 T. Pletcher J. Velazquez 10-1
5 SENOR SWINGER 122 M. Goldfine E. Prado 6-1
6 EMPIRE MAKER 122 B. Frankel J. Bailey 9-5
7 FORMAL ATTIRE 122 P. Serpe E. Coa 12-1