News and notes from around the Thoroughbred racing world, compiled by NTRA Communications.
SOLDAT AND DIALED IN THE FAVORITES IN SUNDAY’S FLORIDA DERBY
Soldat, winner of the Fountain of Youth Stakes, and Holy Bull Stakes winner Dialed In will be the choices this Sunday in the 60th edition of the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby to be contested at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla. The race can be seen via live video streaming at NTRA.com as part of the year’s first NTRA Live! Webcast, hosted by Randy Moss. Airtime is 4:30 p.m. (CT) with post time for the Florida Derby slated for 4:42 p.m.
While Soldat and Dialed In may take the most betting action in the talented field of eight 3-year-olds, there will also be strong support for Stay Thirsty, winner of the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct in his last start for trainer Todd Pletcher, To Honor and Serve, a top-ranked 2-year-old when he captured the Nashua Stakes and Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct last fall for trainer Bill Mott.
Jockey Alan Garcia retains the mount on Soldat, the race’s 9-5 morning line favorite, for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin after they teamed up to win the Fountain of Youth by two lengths on Feb. 26 at Gulfstream. Soldat will break from the rail.
Jockey Julien Leparoux gets the return call on Dialed In from post 7 for trainer Nick Zito, who sent out LaPenta’s Ice Box to win the Florida Derby last year. Dialed In won the one-mile Holy Bull on Jan. 30 when he rallied from last of nine to win going away bv 1 ½ lengths. Dialed In got his final tune-up for Sunday’s race finishing second in a 1 1/8 miles allowance on Mar. 6 won by Zito-trained stablemate Equestrio, a 4-year-old.
Jockey Ramon Dominguez rides Stay Thirsty in his second start of the season after winning the 1 1/16 miles Gotham Stakes by 3 ¼ lengths in his first start since finishing fifth behind stablemate Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Churchill on Nov. 6.
To Honor and Serve may be the big question mark in Sunday’s race with Garrett Gomez aboard for the first time. He was beaten 6 ¾ lengths as the 17-to-10 second choice when third to Soldat in the Fountain of Youth. However, the $575,000 Keeneland September yearling purchase by Bernardini was making his first start since late November in that 1 1/8-miles race, and he should benefit from the effort.
The complexion of the race changed significantly this morning when trainer Rick Dutrow entered the brilliant, but lightly-raced Flashpoint with jockey Cornelio Velasquez named to ride as they break from the outside post 8 and will almost certainly set the pace. The roan/gray colt by Pomeroy has won both of his starts by big margins, including the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 26 by 7 ¼ lengths.
The complete field for the Florida Derby, in post position order, is: Soldat (jockey: Alan Garcia); To Honor and Serve (Garrett Gomez); Arch Traveler (Jose Lezcano); Bowman’s Causeway (Paco Lopez); Shackleford (Jesus Castanon); Stay Thirsty (Ramon Dominguez); Dialed In (Julien Leparoux); and Flashpoint (Cornelio Velazquez).