36 Days And Counting Until The Kentucky Derby

March 28, 2008 | Gary Quill

On Saturday, the 57th running of the Florida Derby takes places at Gulfstream Park, located in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. Just as the O’s and other MLB teams have recently completed their Spring Training in the Sunshine state, so will a select group of 3 year olds among the equine community.
The Florida Derby will represent the final test for 11 talented colts (and one gelding) to determine who is worthy of traveling north to Louisville to run in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Conversely, those who fail this test, like the young baseball prospect who can’t hit a major league curveball, will be sent elsewhere to face lesser competition.
Here’s the field…
# 1 -    Fierce Wind (Morning Line Odds: 6-1)
# 2 -    Smooth Air (12-1)
# 3 –    Da’ Tara (20-1)
# 4 –    Tomcito (12-1)
# 5 –    Cool Gator (20-1)
# 6 -    Nistle’s Crunch (10-1)
# 7 -    B B Frank (20-1)
# 8 -    Elysium Fields (4-1)
# 9 -    Hey Byrn (5-1)
#10 -   Majestic Warrior (15-1)
#11 -   Face The Cat (8-1)
#12 -   Big Brown (3-1)
Fact: No horse has ever won a race going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream from post 11 or 12 since the racetrack was reconfigured and lengthened to 1 1/8 miles in 2005. That doesn’t bode well for the Morning Line favorite.
Here’s how I see it…The early fractions should be rather quick as the majority of this field either wants to be on or near the lead. The colt that’s most comfortable lying well off a blistering pace will most likely be the center of attention in the Winners Circle afterwards. I see Elysium Fields in that role, making a big sweeping move into the stretch to catch Big Brown in the final eighth, as Face The Cat and Majestic Warrior battle for the 3rd and 4th place purse. Tomcito is the unknown. He makes his North American and 2008 debut after a stellar 5 race campaign in Peru. He’s been awesome in the A.M. and has an outside shot at stealing this one if given an easy lead.  
For a single race, my wagering preference is to play one horse using any combination of WIN, PLACE and SHOW. But in the interest of those readers who search for the bigger score, I’ll always “suggest” an Exacta and Trifecta as well.
With that being said, my “GQ Play of the Day” for the Florida Derby is…
$10 WIN and PLACE on # 8               (cost: $20)
$ 2 EXACTA 8 with 4, 10, 11, 12        (cost: $8)
$ 1 Part-wheel TRIFECTA 4, 8, 10, 11 with 12 with 4, 8, 10, 11  (cost: $12)  
Who do you like?