by Jeremy Plonk
March 25, 2023
What was supposed to be a quiet post-position draw today for next Saturday’s Grade 1 $1 million Florida Derby provided multiple rounds of fireworks. An expected small field to tackle Champion 2-Year-Old and Fountain of Youth winner Forte ballooned to 12 runners. Then, all the favorites, including Forte in post 11, drew the widest stalls in the gate.
Forte was the first name announced and raised immediate eyebrows when the 4-5 morning line favorite received post 11 in the random draw. Soon we’d find out that Southern California raider and second morning line choice Fort Bragg landed post 10. Later, it was Remsen winner and 6-1 third morning line choice Dubyuhnell landing the far outside 12-hole. What’s more? Fourth morning line choice Cyclone Mischief (8-1) will begin from post 9, inner-most of the favored quartet that starts outer-most in the Florida Derby field.
The wide draws will force decisions upon the riders of the favorites to either use more early to gain position or relax more early with a chance to drop over and save ground around the 1-1/8 miles oval that lacks the longer run to the first turn that traditional 1-mile tracks feature. Forte’s closing style may be accentuated here if Irad Ortiz Jr. decides to let the field leave inside of him. His normal pace cadence from mid-pack or a bit farther back could see Forte quite wide on the clubhouse turn. The draw winner very well may be Mage in post 4. He’s got early speed and the benefit of some route development in a decent Fountain of Youth effort.
Saturday’s 14-race Gulfstream Park card includes 10 stakes races and gets underway at 11:30 am ET. There will be a $750,000 late pick 4 pool guarantee, as well as a $1 million late pick 5 pool guarantee. CNBC will broadcast the Curlin Florida Derby between 6-7 pm ET.
Gulfstream Park // Race 14 // 6:40 pm ET // $1 million Grade 1 Curlin Florida Derby // 1-1/8 miles
1-Jungfrau (Paco Lopez // Bill Mott) 20-1
2-West Coast Cowboy (Sonny Leon // Saffie Joseph Jr.) 20-1
3-Shaq Diesel (Miguel Vasquez // Renaldo Richards ) 30-1
4-Mage (Luis Saez // Gustavo Delgado) 10-1
5- Mr. Peeks (Edwin Gonzalez // Saffie Joseph Jr.) 30-1
6-Nautical Star (Leonel Reyes // Saffie Joseph Jr.) 30-1
7-Il Miracolo (Jesus Rios // Antonio Sano) 30-1
8-Mr. Ripple (Edgard Zayas // Saffie Joseph Jr.) 30-1
9-Cyclone Mischief (Javier Castellano // Dale Romans) 8-1
10-Fort Bragg (Joel Rosario // Tim Yakteen) 5-1
11-Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr. // Todd Pletcher) 4-5
12-Dubyuhnell (Jose Ortiz // Danny Gargan) 6-1