Applebee: Closer Look 2023 FL Derby and GP Oaks
Happy Florida Derby Day!
This does not appear to be the deepest Florida Derby field as only half of the entrants have run a Beyer fig north of 85. However, this field does include the clear leader of the division, Forte, who cemented his position with a dominating win in the Fountain of Youth. Todd Pletcher will saddle Forte as he aims to extend his own record win total in the Florida Derby to seven.
Race 12 – The Gulfstream Park Oaks – Grade II
One Mile and a Sixteenth on the Dirt for Three Year Old Fillies
- Flakes: Runs here off a win against N1X Florida state breds where she stalked the pace (78 Beyer). Was outmatched two back in the Forward Gal and had no impact. Now stretches to two turns and takes on graded stakes company. Lasix comes OFF. Faces tougher and more experienced fillies today. Exotics player.
- Infinite Diamond: Biancone trained filly has been up and down since demolishing a maiden filed by fourteen lengths last Fall. That win earned her a start in the Alcibiades – where she was eased. She then won in her comeback race in the Cash Run with nice pocket rail skimming trip. But then failed to threaten in the Davona Dale last out. Passing.
- Just Katherine: Broke her maiden last out (69 Beyer) going seven panels where she drew off in the stretch. Lasix comes OFF. Would need a big step forward to get to prize here but she has shown she can rate which may put her in a good position. Possible underneath player.
- Affirmative Lady: Broke her maiden over this surface and distance last out in her fifth career start. That’s a career that has already included a close second in the Demoiselle and a third in the Busanda Stakes. Lasix comes OFF, Blinkers go ON. Has consistently run Beyers in a narrow range of 66-70. Will need a step forward. Would be a surprise.
- Miracle: This New York bred filly has never been off the board in five career starts for Pletcher running primarily against state breds. Battled Pretty Mischievous for the length of the stretch last out in the Rachel Alexandra (86 Beyer). That was off a three and a half month layoff. Will be up front but needs to show that she can finish off a route race. Irad picks up the mount from Johnny V. Win candidate. Using in horizontals.
- Atomically: Pletcher trainee was a strong third in the Grade 3 Forward Gal last out (80 Beyer). She was off slow and had to tip four wide to get a clear run at the leaders but was going very well late. She has previously shown she can handle the distance. That last race may have been a learning experience for today. A couple of sharp works coming into this. The Pick.
- Sacred Wish: Goes out first time for George Weaver after breaking her maiden while sprinting in a restricted maiden special weight race at Oaklawn. That 80 Beyer might make her look competitive, but this is asking a lot from this filly. Castellano gets in the irons. Lasix comes OFF. Has only worked once since that March 5th win. Too many questions.
- Dorth Vader: Won the Davona Dale at the flat mile by stalking the pace from the outside and drawing off in the stretch (81 Beyer) at 45-1. Gets a tough outside draw and will have to be sent from here to avoid being hung five wide. Lean against.
Race 14 – The Florida Derby – Grade I
One Mile and One Furlong on the Dirt for Three Year Olds
- Jungfrau: Barely ran a step in the Withers last out – had a bit of a bump coming out of the gate but the performance was poor as he trailed the field for the duration. That followed a maiden breaking performance where he was placed first via DQ. Mott obviously still believes in this Juddmonte homebred. Not sure that I do. Would be a surprise.
- West Cost Cowboy: Performed well in the Holy Bull running third with an inside trip (77 Beyer). Might repeat that trip here provided he can stay close enough. The Holy Bull was his first start since November, so an improvement second time back is fair to expect. Underneath player.
- Shaq Diesel: Three time winner tries graded stakes company again after making no impact in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds last out. Blinkers come OFF. Has only been competitive when he can be or attend the pace. I don’t see that happening here against better. Toss.
- Mage: Was an OK fourth last out in the Fountain of Youth (88 Beyer) where he had a bit of a tough trip. So an improvement off that performance wouldn’t be a surprise. Two back he won at first asking on the front end going seven furlongs (89 Beyer). Expect him to be forwardly placed. Exacta player.
- Mr. Peeks: Saffie Joseph picks up training duties for this one and enters this maiden off a second place finish going six furlongs (88 Beyer). He was up on the pace that day and ran on through the stretch but was bested by a 1/5 favorite. Lasix comes OFF. Rabbit.
- Nautical Star: Broke his maiden last out in his second career start (80 Beyer) while sprinting at Oaklawn. Has moved to the Saffie Joseph barn off that win and now makes a huge class jump to a Grade I. Unlikely.
- Il Miracolo: Antonio Sano tries again with this Gun Runner offspring after being nowhere near it in the Mucho Macho Man, the Holy Bull, and Fountain of Youth. Blinkers go ON. This horse’s name translates from Italian as ‘The Miracle” and that’s pretty what would be needed for him to win today. Passing.
- Mr. Ripple: Has hit he board all three starts for Saffie Joseph but has yet to try stakes company. He proved he can get the distance as he finished second in N1X company while going nine furlongs. Lasix comes OFF. Don’t see it.
- Cyclone Mischief: Ran a decent third in the Fountain of Youth (89 Beyer) by setting the pace but was easily passed by eventual winner Forte. That effort was an marked improvement over the Holy Bull where he failed to fire. Appears to like to attend the pace but that may be difficult given the speed in this field. Not sure the race flow will suit him. Passing.
- Fort Bragg: Tim Yakteen ships in his former Baffert trainee off a fifth place finish in the San Felipe at Santa Anita. Didn’t show a lot that day but it was his first start in three months. Picks up Rosario. Possibilities.
- Forte: Crushed the field in the Fountain of Youth (98 Beyer) to remove any doubt that he is the early Derby favorite. The reigning two year old champion looked like an older colt running against three year olds – as he tipped four wide and rolled by the leaders with ease. Should stalk the early pace and pounce when asked. Irad staying in the irons. Gunna be a short price – and for a reason. Even with this tough outside draw…the Pick.
- Dubyuhnell: Won the Remsen in December over a sloppy track then failed to fire at Tampa in the Sam F. Davis. He had some traffic issues in the first turn and steadied – but he never looked keen and didn’t come running late either. Has a chance to redeem himself today but he hasn’t been great on a fast track. Working well in advance of this. Passing.