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Handicapping the Florida Derby

Finally, an interesting Derby prep! Elysium Fields (currently my favorite of the trio of Barclay Tagg trainees on the Derby trail) and Fierce Wind (one of the ‘other’ Nick Zito horses) should both prove serious threats in the Florida Derby.

Majestic Warrior made a big impression on Coolmore back in September, but doesn’t have a great post position for Saturday. Granted, it’s not as bad as Big Brown’s (more on that below), but I can’t think it’s going to help him. I see him hitting the board in most scenarios.

Face the Cat has been in and out of this race several times over the past few week, but I’m looking forward to finally seeing him, but am not necessarily expecting a huge race. You’ll recall he’s another former Helen Pitts trainee who received the Curlin treatment and was spirited away to another trainer.

In my view, the biggest knock on Tomcito (pictured) is not class — you can make the ‘but what has he beaten?’ argument about just about every horse in the field (not to mention practically every horse on the Derby trail at this point) — but rather his running style. Coming from the clouds can be a great strategy at a mile and a half, but that might be less effective in this race. Nonetheless, I like what I’ve seen so far and think he could well be the winner.

Big Brown is getting a lot of column inches (and we won’t know until after the race whether or not they are well-deserved), but his fragility and lack of seasoning are a worry. I don’t see him overcoming his post position this time out, but I’m not discounting him entirely either. Consider me a Big Brown agnostic at this point.

Hey Byrn is also getting a lot of hype, but I’m not ready to jump aboard that bandwagon either; he may love Gulfstream, but I’m not sure that will translate elsewhere. Ditto that for Smooth Air (and I planned to write about the other entrants too, but an early-morning visit to the ER with Superfecta Junior, who is now resting comfortably at home, rather interfered with that notion; you may notice this entry is somewhat stilted as a result).

So, without further ado, my (somewhat unadventurous) wagering options for the Florida Derby (and here’s hoping I make it to the OTB in time):

  • $2 on Tomcito across the board
  • Tomcito/Elysuim Fields $2 exacta box
  • Tomcito/Elysium Fields/Majestic Warrior $1 trifecta box

Fingers crossed…

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