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Saturday Stakes Results and Florida Derby Thoughts

 

Below are the results of yesterday's graded stakes races, a link to the official results chart at the DRF, and the Beyer figure of the winner (if available):

G1-Florida Derby, Gulfstream (chart): Ice Box (99)
G2-Bonnie Miss, Gulfstream (chart): Devil May Care (100)
G2-Swale, Gulfstream (chart): D' Funnybone (96)
G3-Rampart, Gulfstream (chart): Unrivaled Belle (97)
G3-Appleton, Gulfstream (chart): Society's Chairman (95)
G2-San Luis Rey Hcp., Santa Anita (chart): Bourbon Bay (TBD)
G3-Cicada, Aqueduct (chart): Liam's Dream (88)

Some thoughts on yesterday's action:

-I was very surprised at the figure for the Florida Derby considering how the race fell apart in the stretch; looks like a race where my ranking in terms of quality will differ from the speed figure assigned.  According to the speed figures, Ice Box ran a faster race than that of Lookin' At Lucky in the Rebel last weekend and is second only to Eskendereya in this year's Derby preps.  I just can't buy into that notion as of yet.  In my estimation, Lookin At Lucky's performance rates much higher than that of Ice Box.

-For comparisons sake, check out the fractional spits of the Rampart featuring fillies and mares four years old and up, the Bonnie Miss for three year old fillies, and the Florida Derby, all of which were run at a mile and an eighth:

Race

¼

½

¾

Mile

Finish

Winner

Beyer

Florida Derby

:23.21

:46.46

1:10.76

1:36.09

1:49.19

Ice Box

99

Rampart

:23.72

:47.43

1:11.26

1:36.25

1:49.36

Unrivaled Belle

96

Bonnie Miss

:23.68

:47.28

1:10.76

1:35.59

1:49.06

Devil May Care

100


The three year old fillies in the Bonnie Miss went the first six furlongs in exactly the same time as the boys in the Florida Derby and finished up slightly quicker, thus earning them a one point advantage with the speed figure. 

For further comparison's sake, here are the internal fractions for the winners in each of the above races:

Race

¼

½

¾

Mile

Finish

Winner

Style

Florida Derby

:25.22

:22.84

:24.01

:24.46

:12.66

Ice Box

Closer

Rampart

:23.72

:23.71

:23.83

:24.99

:13.11

Unrivaled Belle

Wire

Bonnie Miss

:23.95

:23.67

:23.50

:24.47

:13.47

Devil May Care

Mid Pack


When you look at the internal splits and running style of the winners we get a little bit of a different picture than by just looking at the raw fractions.  For me, Unrivaled Belle was the top performer in these three races due to the fact that she did all the dirty work on the front end while setting an honest, even if not an insane, pace. 

Ice Box's number look a lot better than I thought they would right after the race, but the final fractions of the rest of the Florida Derby field were simply abysmal.  So while I think Ice Box deserves credit for running a very good race, it's debatable as to what he beat.

Devil May Care received the highest Beyer of the three but actually ran the slowest final 1/16th of a mile.

-I don't know where Ice Box is going to fit on my Top 10 rankings on Wednesday but I do know that Rule will be nowhere to be found.  I was a little skeptical of that colt and his performance in the Florida Derby only served to increase my doubt in his ability to win the Derby.      

-Radiohead (GB) received just a brutal trip from his wide post position; check out the video replay below and watch as he goes six or seven wide into the first turn.  That high cruising speed he displayed in his last race wasn't enough to keep him out of trouble and his race was essentially over at that point. 

I generally don't place a lot of emphasis on what trainers say prior to a race (you can drive yourself crazy trying to decipher all their opinions) but yesterday was a day to listen to Radiohead's trainer, Richard Dutrow.  Dutrow was interviewed several times by HRTV prior to the Florida Derby, and while he certainly thought that Radiohead was talented, he didn't seem overcome with confidence that his colt was going to win that race.  In fact, when asked about him returning off of three weeds rest Dutrow quite frankly said he didn't know how the colt would respond. 

When you combine an awful draw with a skeptical trainer...well, it was time to jump ship.  

-Below is the video replay of the Florida Derby, provided from Gulfstream Park and the NTRA via their YouTube channels.  As a quick aside, Gulfstream, Churchill Downs, Inc., and the NTRA have tons of video replays available on their respective YouTube pages and it's a great place to go to find free replays of past races. 


.

-Besides the fact that Radiohead was halfway to the outer rail on the first turn, I think the thing that surprised me the most from this race is how little running the mid-pack horses did after a perfect set-up in front of them.  Perhaps the mid-packers ran poorly because they weren't very good, which is the likely reason.

Also take a look at the 2 horse, Lentenor, as they come into deep stretch.  After breaking somewhat slow and not running in a stalking position like he's used to, Lentenor made some nice gains after being switched inside in the lane.  He was never a threat to win but I certainly think Lentenor handled the dirt fairly well.  That being said, I would like to see this colt return to the grass where I think his best days are ahead of him. 

Upon watching the replay a few times, I suppose I should be fair to Rule since he did hold third after setting the pace on the front end.  I guess my issue with Rule is that I have grave concerns about his ability to get a mile and a quarter in the Derby and I'm generally not enamored with a horse that has never won a race without leading the field wire to wire.  That's just not the versatility I like to see in a Derby runner.