Joe Santos Breaks Down the Florida Derby


Selections: 6-8-1-7


(1) Strike Power comes off a strong second in his first two turn attempt, running second to (4) Promises Fulfilled in the Fountain of Youth earlier this month at Gulfstream. He chased the Romans trainee around the whole way and was not able to make up the necessary ground to win. He comes in with a solid breeze in 47 4/5 seconds for a half mile. This earned him the bullet work for March 23rd. All systems seem a go for him to take a step forward. 

(2) Millionaire Runner seems very overmatched against these kind. 4th last time out in an allowance race at Gulfstream, he has yet to proven himself against this caliber of horse. I give him little chance in here to spring the upset

(3) Tip Sheet exits the same allowance race as Millionaire Runner, where he was third. Although he hasn’t shown much, the Stanley Gold trainee will appreciate added ground. In a race with a lot of pace, I would not leave him out of the bottom end of your exotic wagers at a big price. 

(4) Promises Fulfilled lone defeat came in his Stake debut and his first try going two turns last fall at Churchill. He returned with a massive preformance in the Fountain of Youth earlier this month. The Romans trainee has had two works since. He will have a lot of pace to go with, but if he gets the front, he may be tough to pass much like his sire Shackleford was. 

(5) Storm Runner ran a dud last out in the Fountain of Youth after winning an entry level allowance at Gulfstream earlier in the Meet. The “other Romans” horse seems to have his work cut out for him against these kind, but is entering the race was a bullet work of 59 flat for 5 furlongs on March 24th. I could see him sticking around for a piece of the bottom of exotic tickets

(6) Catholic Boy is coming off a good second in the Sam Davis at Tampa for conditioner Johnathan Thomas. He is the sole multiple graded stakes winner and boast tremendous company lines. I expect him to step up in the Florida Derby with his best effort yet and will make him my top pick.


(7) Hofburg comes off a massive maiden win on Fountain of Youth day in his two turn debut. Top trainer Bill Mott, who is usually very conservative, shows up next in the Florida Derby. This deserves a close look to Hofburg, as does his bullet work of 48 3/5 seconds at Payson Park on March 26th. I expect him to run a big race today. Not sure if it’s good enough to do the job this early in his career, but expect a good showing of Hofburg. 

(8) Audible runs in the Florida Derby for top connections Todd Pletcher and Johnny V off a massive effort in the Holy Bull Stakes. Love that Todd gave him times coming into this one. No surprise here if he gallops, but for value purposes he will not be my top pick

(9) Mississippi seems to have a case of seconditis. To cure this, trainer Mark Casse will toss on the shades for Mississippi’s graded stakes debut. This definitely could help him take the step forward that the Casse camp feels he is capable of making. For me, I will need to see it to believe it, but would not talk anyone off him

Top 4

(6) Catholic Boy

(8) Audible

(1) Strike Power

(7) Hofburg

You can follow Joe Santos on Twitter at @joesantos_33

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