The Florida Derby will be run on Saturday at Gulfstream Park
By New York Hot List Staff
In these difficult times of the coronavirus pandemic uncertainty is the only thing that is certain and, by all means, that is true in the world of horse racing. For now, racing goes on at a few tracks around the country, so let’s all try and enjoy Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Tiz the Law, who is the leader of the eastern Kentucky Derby contenders, was named the 6-5 morning line favorite based on his impressive 2020 debut in the Holy Bull (G2) at Gulfstream. The Barclay Tagg trained Sackatoga Stable runner brings back the team that gave us the 2003 Derby winner Funny Cide.
The New York-bred son of Constitution will try and get enough points now for the Kentucky Derby.
“One of the big reasons is we want to get our points and then not have to worry about that and hopefully keep him healthy and sound so we’re able to actually run the race on the first Saturday in September,” said Jack Knowlton, managing partner of Sackatoga Stable.
The Florida Derby will be only the second start of the year for Tiz the Law and will be a rematch with Ete Indien.
“He certainly proved in his last race that he can run off a layoff, so I don’t think there’s any question about that. He showed he liked the track there at Gulfstream. Probably the top competitor there is a horse that we beat in Ete Indien. We beat him going a mile and a sixteenth and I think our horse is absolutely well suited to go more than a mile and a sixteenth,” Knowlton said. “A mile and an eighth to him, I don’t think is any challenge to him at all.”
The 4-1 second choice Ete Indien will have to break from post position 12 as he stretches out to a mile and an eighth for trainer Patrick Biancone.
“I don’t think he has a problem with stamina,” Biancone said. “He’s very manageable. The other day [in the Fountain of Youth], we had to ask him to get out of a bad hole. When he got the lead, he relaxed immediately, and he was very manageable. Florent said he came back to him very nicely. He slowed down and relaxed.”
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled a record five Florida Derby winners, has two 3-year-olds in the field with Gouverneur Morris listed at 8-1 on the morning line. He was last seen winning an allowance race at Tampa Bay Downs in his 2020 debut.
“I thought it was a good comeback. It wasn’t a cupcake field. He finished up well and seemed to come out of it and has trained strongly since then. We weren’t 100 percent sure what his next start was going to be but based on the strength of his last breeze and the fact that the Florida Derby is right in front of us we felt like we better go ahead and go now,” Pletcher said.
Independence Hall, who is owned by Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Twin Creek Racing Stables LLC, Kathleen Verratti and Robert Verratti, will look to rebound from his only career loss which came when he ran second in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa.
Like Tiz the Law and Gouverneur Morris, Independence Hall was sired by Constitution. Trained by Michael Trombetta, he is listed as the third choice at 9-2.
“Some circumstantial things went against him in the Sam Davis. He got beat that day on the square, but if you consider the trouble that he had in that race, between the tongue tie and losing his right front shoe, the race shape and setup playing against him, I thought it was a really strong effort,” Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners’ Aron Wellman said. “He’s never run a bad race and since that time we’ve really put a circle around the Florida Derby and he’s trained exceptionally well. We’ve got no reason to expect him not to show up and run his ‘A’ race come Saturday.”
The Florida Derby will be run as the last race out of 14 with post time scheduled for 6:36pm ET. The card features 11 stakes races and six of them are graded stakes.