Saturday April 2nd 2011
Name: Florida Derby Grade: II
Distance/Restrictions: 1 1/8 Miles, Dirt, 3 Year Olds, STAKES
To Honor and Serve
I believe it’s easiest to analyze the upcoming Florida Derby by writing about how I believe these horses will approach this race.
(#8) Flashpoint will most likely shoot out of the gate and attempt to cut off his seven competitors and get as close to the rail in the first turn as possible. Flashpoint was nothing less than impressive in his last victorious outing, the Hutcheson Stakes, where he seemed to fly for the first ½ mile and then kick in the after burners for the last three furlongs.
However that race was only 7 furlongs – and the Florida Derby will add an additional 2 furlongs to the distance. There’s also a very impressive horse who will most likely challege him for the rail – and that is (#1) Soldat.
Soldat had the 1st post position in his last race, The Fountain of Youth, and used it to his advantage as he cruised to the early lead – and maintained enough of a lead to defeat 3rd place (#2) To Honor and Serve and 5th place (#5) Shackleford.
At the head of the pack, the question is –
Will Flashpoint offer an impossible pace for the first mile and just fade in the last few furlongs….additionally will Soldat want to run with him early, and in doing so join him in a pitiful fade? In the first ½ mile we’ll probably learn a lot about Flashpoint’s strategy in this race, and Soldat’s ability to be patient and run at his own pace.
Just off the pace – To Honor and Serve will most likely run in the 3rd or 4th position early, and Gotham Stakes winner (#6) Stay Thirsty will also keep in the middle of the pack and look to make a move coming out of the final turn.
On a bit of a side note – Stay Thirsty and Uncle Mo are apart of the same stables (Repole Stables). Stay Thirsty probably left New York to race in Florida because Uncle Mo will be at the next big prep in New York – The Wood Memorial. Obviously the Stable would prefer two winners in different derbies – as opposed to 1st and 2nd in the same derby.
Also Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve are half brothers – both sired by (2006 Preakness winner) Bernardini.
In the far back will be (#7) Dialed In who may actually appear to be running backwards in the first ¼ mile – this horse could be nearly 20 lengths behind the leaders at the ½ mile marker…..especially if Flashpoint decides to go for a 43 second ½ mile. However Dialed In will…dial in at about the ¾ to 1 mile marker and attempt to make a late rally past the impressive early leaders.
I’ve read where a number of writers like Dialed In at the Florida Derby because his style will be unique against his competitors – however in Dialed In’s last 1 1/8th mile race – he finished 2nd against a less then impressive field – I’m just not sold that he’ll do better against this caliber of horse. Currently Dialed In is the second favorite at 2/1 odds – just slightly behind Soldat who is currently being priced at 9/5.
The horse that I think is being overlooked a little is To Honor and Serve – who finished 3rd behind Soldat in their last outing (the Fountain of Youth), however To Honor and Serve had to make the most out of his 7th post position – and struggled slightly with how the race played out in the first turn. Now positioned in the 2nd post – I think To Honor and Serve will bounce back here – and unlike Flashpoint or Stay Thirsty – has experience (2 races) at this distance.
In closing – I believe that if Flashpoint decides to burn up the track early – Soldat will fall for the speed trap – and To Honor and Serve will be in a great position to win this race. To Honor and Serve will most likely sit at the rail in third place and breeze past the two exhausted leaders as they fade…..I also believe he’s got more going for him then Stay Thirsty who will probably have to go wide in the final turn, and I also believe To Honor and Serve won’t be caught from behind by Dialed In.
However if Soldat (and/or Flashpoint) decide to keep the pace reasonable in the first ½ mile – I think Soldat will be in the perfect spot to repeat his Fountain of Youth performance.
Checking in with Trackmaster here is who they like:
Trackmaster likes: Soldat, Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve.
Closing Speed likes: To Honor and Serve, Soldat, Stay Thirsty.