03/27/2015 11:10AM

The Wizard: Taking a stand against the 8-5 and 2-1 favorites in Florida Derby


By The Wizard

Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park offers very little surprises if you are searching for a longshot to upset the three clear betting favorites. It’s unfortunate, because Upstart, the 8-5 morning-line favorite, and Itsaknockout, the 2-1 second choice, are both the types of horses you want to take a position against.

Upstart was in a drive from the far turn to the finish of the Fountain of Youth, chasing Frosted who looked like a near cinch turning for home but flattened out badly in midstretch. Upstart was closest to that rival and inherited the lead. To the Wizard’s eyes, the final eighth-mile was run more in slow motion than watching horses accelerate strongly to the wire. Upstart drifted out late, impeding Itsaknockout, who was closing outside of him. Upstart was disqualified and placed second behind Itsaknockout.

Neither 3-year-old gave me the impression that Saturday’s additional sixteenth of a mile will help them. Who is the viable alternative to these two betting favorites? Materiality, who is third choice on the morning line at 7-2, looks like the best option and actually a pretty good one.

Materiality is 2 for 2 lifetime and is on the improve. He is the only horse in the field with a win at 1 1/8 miles, and that came 22 days ago stepping up into a stakes race off his maiden win. Materiality rated beautifully chasing in second. He easily blew by his stablemate at the top of the stretch to win by 5 3/4 lengths with plenty left in the tank. He clearly looks to have the most upside of any horse in the Florida Derby field, despite having the least experience. Both of Materiality’s wins have come over this track.

A Florida Derby victory by Materiality would at least represent south Florida with a viable Kentucky Derby contender. That would not be the case if either Upstart or Itsaknockout wins. Either are capable of winning a weak renewal of the Florida Derby, but the bus would stop right there as both clearly have distance limitations.

Because I have a negative opinion of the two morning-line favorites, this is a race I will wager on. I am suggesting a win bet on (7) MATERIALITY and equal exactas (7) MATERIALITY over (4) ITSAKNOCKOUT and (9) UPSTART, reversing both for half as much.

There are others on the 14-race card that I feel offer better wagering opportunities. You can find out more with my Gulfstream Park Full Card Selections for Saturday, March 28. Learn how I plan on betting those races with the Wizard’s Betting Window. Purchase both, and you receive a 25 percent savings.