We approach Florida Derby weekend at Gulfstream Park! A whopping ten stakes races will get off the ground, four of them being graded events. We'll see Kentucky Derby & Oaks hopefuls duking it out for qualifying points, plus a multitude of other horses establishing their authority in their respective turf, dirt, sprint and route divisions. Let's have a look at what's to come.
The $100K Sanibel Island Stakes is a one mile event on the turf for three year old fillies. The morning line favorite is WORLD TOUR (3-1) from the Bill Mott barn. She makes her second start after breaking her maiden last month. She registered a sharp 3F work in 36.20 this past Sunday at Payson Park Training center, indicating she's ready to go. She'll face the likes of HIT THE WOAH (4-1) from the outside post for trainer Christophe Clement. She ran great breaking her maiden back in November but followed it up with a disappointing fourth-place finish in the Glitter Woman Stakes. She's been given three months rest and seeks a rebound victory. Post Time is 12:28 PM ET.
The $100K Sand Springs Stakes is one mile and one-sixteenth race over the turf, for fillies and mares of four years and up. FEEL GLORIOUS for trainer Christophe Clement (2-1) enters off a third place finish in the Honey Fox Stakes (G3) where she achieved her best speed figure albeit finishing third. SWEET BYE AND BYE (5-2) is also in the running for trainer Saffie A. Joseph Jr. She too is in top form coming out of a Grade 3 race where she tied her highest speed figure to date, running second to the ultra-talented filly ZOFELLE. Post Time is 12:57 PM ET.
The $100K Sir Shackleton Stakes is a seven furlong dash on the dirt, for four year olds and up. BASIN (5-2) from the seventh hole has been pegged the morning line favorite. He returns off a seven-month layoff for trainer Todd Pletcher, and will try to follow up on his impressive effort last time out in the Amsterdam Stakes (G2) where he ran his fastest race to date. BASIN has faced some impressive foes over his career, NADAL, CHARLATAN, SWISS SKYDIVER, ART COLLECTOR. He'll be tough to handle here despite the layoff. Second choice is YODEL E.A. WHO for trainer Brittany T. Russell, who enters off an $52K Allowance score going shorter. He'll retain jockey Tyler Gaffllione for the task. Post Time is 1:27 PM ET.
The $100K Kitten's Joy Appleton Stakes is a one mile run over the turf, for four year olds and upward. FROSTMOURNE (9-5) heads the field for trainer Roger Attfield. He enters off a game third place finish in the Tropical Turf Stakes (G3) last time out. This was almost three months back, but no worry, he's won several times off of +3 months vacation. Matter of fact his highest speed figure came off an eleven-month layoff. The eight horse SEISMIC WAVE (3-1) for Chad Brown is a horse he'll have to contend with. He's been facing tougher Grade 2 opponents and will try to benefit here from the drop in company. He'll still need to improve on figures to beat the favorite mentioned above. SEISMIC WAVE hasn't found the winner circle since October of 2019. Post Time is 1:57 PM ET.
The $100K Ghostzapper Stakes (G3) is a one mile and one-eighth run over the dirt, for four year olds and upward. LAST JUDGEMENT (9-5) heads this field from post one. He's trained by Michael Maker and will seek his second consecutive victory having won the $100K Michelob Ultra Challenger (G3) last time out at Tampa Bay. This marks his second start off a two month layoff. From the sixth post, we've got WAR STOPPER for trainer Todd Pletcher to make things interesting. He lost to the above horse at Tampa Bay last time out, but prior to that, had put together two consecutive wins at Gulfstream Park at the Allowance level. He could be dangerous now that he's back at the track he favors. Post Time is 2:57 PM ET.
The $200K Pan American Stakes (G2) is a one mile and one-half journey over the turf, for four year olds and upward. Heading the field is the veteran SADLER'S JOY (5-2) for trainer Thomas Albertrani. We've published an article titled Sadler's Joy Looking For A Comeback by Valerie Mellema, discussing the veteran's chances at winning. He's no stranger to this one mile and one-half distance, hitting the board on nine occasions. Prominent among his competitors is CROSS BORDER (3-1) from the one-hole for trainer Michael Maker. He makes his return from a two-month layoff, having finished a decent third in the Pegasus World Cup Tuf (G1) on this same lawn. He'll carry two to four pounds more than his rivals, which could be a factor when running this long a distance. Post Time is 4:09 PM ET.
The $100K Cutler Bay Stakes is a one mile turf race for three year olds and upward. ANNEX (5-2) from the sixth post is our morning line favorite for trainer Bill Mott. The colt with the big white blaze stormed home impressively in last month's Palm Beach Stakes over this course, cracking the triple digit Equibase Speed figure in just his second start. He'll try to make it three wins in a row as he shortens to a mile. HYPERFOCUS (7-2) is also in the running for trainer Todd Pletcher. He's 2-for-2 at Gulfstream Park and seeks to keep it that way with a win here. Post Time is 4:43 PM ET.
The $200K Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) a one mile and one-sixteenth race on the dirt for fillies, three years old and upward. 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Oaks will be awarded to the winner. CRAZY BEAUTIFUL (5-2) is the morning line favorite. She'll return to two turns after finishing second last time out in the Davona Dale (G2). This will be her second start off a layoff so we can expect her to be much sharper. CON LIMA (3-1) from the inside post position is the second choice for Todd Pletcher. She's got 4 wins and 4 seconds form 8 starts. She comes off a win (by DQ) in the Herecomesthebridestakes (G3) at this very track. She ran a decent Equibase Figure of 92 in that effort but will try to elevate her game against this tougher group. Post Time is 5:17 PM ET.
The $100K Orchid Stakes is a one mile and three-eighths run over the turf, for fillies and mares of age four and up. Todd Pletcher saddles the morning line favorite in ALWAYS SHOPPING (8-5). She comes off two consecutive victories, the most recent being at the Grade 3 level going one mile and one half, on this lawn. She'll be tough to beat as she's revealed an affinity for going longer distances. Second choice is DELTA'S KINGDOM for Bill Mott. She finished second to the above favorite last time out. Prior to that, she finished third in a Grade 3 race, going exactly this one mile and three-eighths distance. She'll try to turn the tables on her rival as she looks for her first win since September of 2019. Post time is 5:55 PM ET.
The $750K Florida Derby (G1) is a one mile and one eighth race on the dirt for three-year-olds. 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby will be awarded to the winner. The well-deserved favorite GREATEST HONOUR (6-5) breaks from the seventh post for trainer Claude McGaughey III. He is currently Ranked #3 on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard. He loves this course, having won his last three races over it, two of them being Grade 3 and Grade 2. He'll be expected to make short work of this field as his final prep for the Kentucky Derby. One of the horses that stands to make a race of it is SPIELBERG (4-1) for trainer Bob Baffert. He comes off a decent second-place finish to current Kentucky Derby favorite ESSENTIAL QUALITY. SPIELBERG will be Bob Baffert's first Florida Derby entrant ever. KNOWN AGENDA (5-1) from the fifth post is also one to consider. He came off a dominant score in an Allowance race last month. Prior to that he raced against Grade 3 and Grade 2, but could do no better than fifth and third. But he looked awesome last time out in his Optional Allowance score, probably developing right in time for the Triple Crown. Post Time is 6:40 PM ET.