Trainers pick favorites for the Florida Derby


Rail posts have been drawn for the Florida Derby, and its outcome will significantly impact the makeup of the Kentucky Derby

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PostHorseJockey Odds
1.Shanghai BobbyR. Napravnik 5-2
2.Pick of the LitterJ. Castanon 6-1
3.ItsmyluckydayE. Trujillo 2-1
4.PontiffA. Garcia 30-1
5.Frac DaddyC. Lanerie 20-1
6.OrbJ. Velazquez 3-1
7. Indy’s IllusionR. Maragh 20-1
8.Merit ManK. Desormeaux 15-1
9.Are You Kidding MeJ. Lezcano 15-1
10.NarvaezP. Lopez 20-1

Special to The Miami Herald

Florida Derby draw

Saturday, 6:19 p.m. (12th race); Distance — 1 1/8, miles dirt (3-YOs); Weight — 122 lbs.; Purse — $1 million ($600,000 to winner).

Itsmyluckyday, already a winner of two Gulfstream Park stakes races this year, drew the No. 3 post position Wednesday and was made the 2-1 morning-line favorite for Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby.

The 10-horse field for the Grade 1 stakes also has two of the country’s other top 3-year-olds. They are Shanghai Bobby, winner of the 2012 Eclipse Award for Juvenile males, and Orb, the winner of this year’s Fountain of Youth (Grade 2) at Gulfstream.

Shanghai Bobby is second at 5-2 in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, and Orb is right behind at 3-1 in the morning line set by Gulfstream line maker Chuck Streva.

All three are in the top 10, with Itsmyluckyday first in some cases, on almost every racing analyst’s list of contenders for the Kentucky Derby on May 4 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

On Saturday, one possibly troublesome factor for Shanghai Bobby is that he drew the rail post.

He will need to break quickly under jockey Rosie Napravnik to avoid getting pinned inside on the short run of about 100 yards to the start of the first turn.

“It limits our options, but it’s better than being far outside” said Todd Pletcher, trainer of Shanghai Bobby.

Napravnik has ridden Shanghai Bobby in all six of his races, including his win in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (Grade 1) on Nov. 4 at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. said he is pleased with Itsmyluckyday’s post, which is not on the rail or too far outside.

Orb drew Post 6, which should not be a negative factor because jockey John Velazquez will probably maneuver him toward the back of the pack.

“The race looks so close that I could have made any of the three the favorite,” said Streva, who is also the Herald’s handicapper.

He said he made Itsmyluckyday the favorite because he beat Shanghai Bobby by two lengths in the Holy Bull (Grade 3) on Jan. 26.

Itsmyluckyday won the 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull in a track record time of 1:41.81. It was the only loss for Shanghai Bobby in his six starts.

Itsmyluckyday also won the one-mile Gulfstream Park Derby on Jan. 1.

“Orb could be the post time favorite if the track is playing to his running style,” Streva said.

On Feb. 23, Orb rallied from seventh place after a half mile and won the 1 1/16 mile Fountain of Youth in the fast time of 1:42.24.

Merit Man, Frac Daddy, Pick of the Litter and Are You Kidding Me have potential to be in the trifecta if any of the favorites falter.

One key to the race, and a determining factor in the pace, will be whether Shanghai Bobby or other horses challenge Merit Man for the lead.

Itsmyluckyday, ridden by Elvis Trujillo, probably will be in the second flight with Orb settling near the rear.

The Florida Derby outcome will impact the makeup of the Kentucky Derby field of 20 horses.

Orb has 50 qualifying points, all from the Fountain of Youth, is sixth on the list and virtually assured a spot.

The Florida Derby will be the first race where the winner will get 100 Kentucky Derby points. For second through fourth place, the points are 40, 20 and 10.

Shanghai Bobby is 12th with 24 points and Itsmyluckyday is tied for 20th with 10 points. With the cutoff likely around 30, both will be seeking points on Saturday.

Whichever horse wins the Florida Derby will earn $600,000 and in effect a guaranteed spot in the Kentucky Derby.

Narvaez, Indy’s Illusion and Pontiff are the other Florida Derby entrants and all will be long shots.

The Florida Derby will be one of seven stakes races at Gulfstream on Saturday.

It is the 12th race with a scheduled post time of 6:19 p.m.

The NBC Sports network will have a live telecast from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m.

First post time will be 12:30 p.m. for the 13-race program.

The other highlight races are the $300,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (Grade 2), at 1 1/8 miles on dirt for 3-year-old fillies, and the $100,000 Skip Away (Grade 3), at 1 3/16 miles on dirt for 4-year-olds and up. Take Charge Indy, the winner of last year’s Florida Derby, is part of the 10-horse field in the Skip Away.

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