G1 Florida Derby (04/02/22)

$1,000,000 Grade I Florida Derby

Dirt, 9 Furlongs


#1 Strike Hard 20/1

Broke through into the 70s/70s (4F/Final) range as a sophomore after a December NPT (New Pace Top), often a good conditioning move for later improvement. Exhibiting better 4F numbers while retaining compression to bring the Final Figure up along with the pace is strong development. Quite a few rivals have run faster at this point but still ranks eligible to continue trending upwards with the noted development being incremental enough not to fear regression. Certainly has no problem passing rivals late if the flow allows as well.

#2 Classic Causeway 7/2

Was handed control in last when going gate-to-wire on a 70h/75 but the SOFT designation indicates he had more if needed but was professional enough to rate and take what was given. The ability to ramp it up here is supported by the big 78/77h 2 races back where he showed some pecking order dominance by handling a duel then drawing away. If the public penalizes this one for being given a soft pace in last when they really shouldn't, could be a solid contender offered at fair odds.

#3 Simplification 5/2

Broke behind traffic in last 2 races losing 4F but maintaining Final Figure while showing a tightening dirt spread (4F minus Final) of 0 to -5 to -7 over last 3 races. Encouraging to see this late speed build as runner continues to stretch out in distance. He's been locked into an ability to replicate a 74 Final despite what 4F Figure he's been on. Certainly rates contentious here but doesn't stand out enough against a big field today to accept too short of odds. He would be a “defensive use” on tickets and can be played against by more aggressive players.

#4 King Of Truth 50/1

Doesn't appear to possess the ability to handle a race like this. When prompted to spike a 72h 4F Figure, something the rest of this field can run with ease, it resulted in a meltdown 45h Final Figure. This one isn't Triple Crown-nominated anyways, so presence just looks like the owners wanted to go to Florida Derby Day. If offered 200/1, I'd still use my $2 to get a candy bar rather than a win ticket.

#5 Pappacap 10/1

Looked to be on a roll when increasing both 4F and Final in 3 straight routes but the bottom fell out with a dud in the Risen Star. If recovered to run back to best, you've got the foundation with the 76/74 to make him a contender. However, when a campaign works up to a peak then is met with big regression, those runners generally must be laid off before eligible to get back to full ability. Maybe the 42 days was enough as evidenced by the riddle of bullet works since, but typically this type of runner needs longer and the tight schedule of the Derby coming up quick may be leaving this runner no choice but to see if he can get back on track quicker than needed.

#6 Charge It 7/2

Unraced at 2, he's playing catch-up against this field in the experience category as he makes the jump from Maiden Allowance to Grade I contender. The COMP debut and subsequent SOFT win featuring a -6 dirt spread are both positive indicators for a stretch out in distance. However, he does need to bump the Final Figure significantly today. First time against winners and first time going two turns, you're banking on potential. There's nothing wrong with backing “potential over proven,” but I think that play type is better reserved for finding longer prices. He'll have plenty of support in the pools so this looks more like an “if he beats me, he beats me” situation as I'd prefer “proven over potential” when it comes to shorter prices. Although I'm tossing, if you love Charge It for your own reasoning, I think your best play in this situation is take a stand and single/key him.

#7 White Abarrio 3/1

Undefeated at today's track, he came off the winter break to pop a 73h/76 sophomore debut and is tough to knock eligible to move forward 2nd off the break while owning the 2nd best Last 4F and best Last Final of this field. Must use.

#8 Cajun's Magic 30/1

Raced very young stringing together 5 races for his 2-year old summer and cementing him a nice foundation for a durable career. He made the sophomore debut off a long break to a respectable and compressed 71h/72h. While being no match for some of today's rivals, he's now eligible to take a step forward. Here's another runner that could have “potential over proven” but this one offers 30/1 to show up rather than Charge It's 7/2.

#9 O Captain 20/1

Lone route try brought a 63h/71 REV with the -8 dirt spread being the most late energy of any dirt route in the field suggesting today's added distance should be a positive. My issue is that he needs the proper race flow to run into and will have to deal with traffic likely shuffled back in a large field. He might be too obvious of a “bottom of tickets” type use here and end up not offering the value we require with form users seeing him pass so many horses in last. Chance for rain today also leaves the possibility of dealing with mud kicked in his face throughout.

#10 Clapton 30/1

Must have some solid durability to him entered here for 3rd contest in a month's time and has developed nicely as a sprinter from +7 range dirt spreads to a more compressed +2 dirt spread in last. This one might make some sense for superfecta users to try in the bottom of their tickets as one with potential to run past some tired ones late versus the #9 who we thought was too obvious to offer value. Pedigree is admittedly much better for sprinting and rider is more known for handling speed types but at the end of the day, the developed compression in the running lines say it's a favorable spot.

#11 Steal Sunshine 30/1

Always a plus to see a runner able to exhibit even energy distribution without experience by triggering a COMP upon dirt debut, especially when being asked to go further than typical maidens do. Took a big uptick in last to trigger a 77/71 DTOP. It's often tough to move forward after such a big improvement of +5 on both 4F and Final Figure, but without a real ceiling established, a lightly-raced runner such as this remains more eligible to handle a DTOP and improve again than we would expect more experienced runners to be. Clear on the outside isn't a terrible place to be if you're just looking to make one run late and be a bomb in the super.


Must Use: 2, 7

Longshots: 8, 10

Underneath: 1, 11

Defensive Only: 3, 6


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