Sidelines with John Clay

Florida Derby preview: Todd Pletcher’s Audible the one to beat

Trainer Todd Pletcher listens to a question about Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming's chances in the 142nd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Pletcher trains Audible, the favorite for Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
Trainer Todd Pletcher listens to a question about Kentucky Derby winner Always Dreaming's chances in the 142nd Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Wednesday, May 17, 2017. Pletcher trains Audible, the favorite for Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. Associated Press

We’re getting down to the most important of the Kentucky Derby 2018 prep races. The Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby are Saturday, April 7. This Saturday, however, brings us the Florida Derby at Gulfstream.

Here’s a look at the entries:

Strike Power: Owned by Courtland Farms and trained by Mark Hennig, the son of champion sprinter Speightstown finished second in the Fountain of Youth ahead of Breeders' Cup Classic winner Good Magic, who ran third. He won the Grade 3 Swale Stakes on Feb. 3 at Gulfstream. Whether Strike Power can cover the increased distance is another matter, however. Hennig, who trained fourth-place Kentucky Derby finisher Personal Hope in 1993, has said he needs a second-or-better finish Saturday to continue on to Louisville. Morning Line odds: 4-1.

Millionaire Runner: Trained by Jaime Mejia and ridden by Jose Batista, Millionaire Runner has won just once in 10 starts. The win came seven races ago on Nov. 25. He ran seventh in the Grade 2 Remsen, won by Catholic Boy. Appears to be out of his league here. ML odds: 50-1.

[Florida Derby 2018 entries]

Tip Sheet: Ran sixth in the Holy Bull, 20 lengths off the lead, then third in an allowance optional claiming race on March 4. Will give it another try here. Trained by Stanley Gold and ridden by Edgard Zayas, Tip Sheet has two wins in 10 starts. He has run in the money six times. ML odds: 30-1.

Promises Fulfilled: The Fountain of Youth winner will try for the Gulfstream sweep on Saturday. Promises Fulfilled triumphed by 2 1/4 lengths over Strike Power that day. Trained by Dale Romans, he has won three of four starts. His sire is Preakness winner Shackleford, also trained by Romans. Robby Albarado is the rider. ML odds: 3-1.

[Horse Racing Nation: Kentucky Derby 2018 contenders]

Storm Runner: Also trained by Romans, Storm Runner ran seventh in the Fountain of Youth. He had won an allowance optional claiming at Gulfstream on Feb. 4 and could improve here for jockey Tyler Gaffalione. Owned by Team Valor, which sent Animal Kingdom to the 2011 Kentucky Derby win. ML odds: 20-1.

Catholic Boy: Trainer Jonathan Thomas has taken an interesting path with Catholic Boy, who started as a turf horse, winning two races and finishing fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. Catholic Boy switched to the dirt and won the Grade 2 Remsen in December. The son of More Than Ready finished second in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis in his 2018 debut. Manny Ortiz is the jockey. ML odds: 7-2.

Hofburg: Trainer Bill Mott turned some heads by deciding to enter Hofburg, who has raced twice, winning once. He took a maiden special weight race at Gulfstream on March 3 by a half-length. Juddmonte Farms is the owner. Jose Ortiz is the jockey. ML odds: 20-1.

Audible: Trained by Todd Pletcher, Audible will try to build off his Grade 2 Holy Bull win at Gulfstream on Feb. 3. Owned by China Horse Club, Head of Plains Partners, Starlight Racing and WinStar Farm, the son of Into Mischief has won three straight races after a third-place debut last September. Pletcher captured last year's Florida Derby with Always Dreaming, who also happened to win the Kentucky Derby. John Velazquez is the jockey. ML odds: 9-5.

Horse Racing Nation Kentucky Derby poll

Rank

Horse

Trainer

First

Points

1

Bolt d’Oro

Mick Ruis

11

405

2

McKinzie

Bob Baffert

5

383

3

Justify

Bob Baffert

2

343

4

Magnum Moon

Todd Pletcher

1

342

5

Good Magic

Chad Brown

322

6

Audible

Todd Pletcher

305

7

Solomini

Bob Baffert

1

280

8

Catholic Boy

Jonathan Thomas

1

252

9

Noble Indy

Todd Pletcher

231

10

Enticed

Kiaran McLaughlin

229

11

Promises Fulfilled

Dale Romans

219

12

Quip

Rodolphe Brisset

163

13

My Boy Jack

Keith Desormeaux

158

14

Flameaway

Mark Casse

145

15

Mendelssohn

Aidan O'Brien

107

16

Instilled Regard

Jerry Hollendorfer

95

17

Lone Sailor

Tom Amoss

80

18

Strike Power

Mark Hennig

69

19

Runaway Ghost

Todd Fincher

67

20

Combatant

Steve Asmussen

Kentucky Derby prep races

Date

Race

Track

Winner

9/16/17

Iroquois

Churchill Downs

The Tabulator

9/24/17

Beresford

Naas

Saxon Warrior

9/30/17

FrontRunner

Santa Anita

Bolt d'Oro

9/30/17

Royal Lodge

Newmarket

Roaring Lion

10/1/17

Lagardere

Chantilly

Happily

10/7/17

Champagne

Belmont Park

Firenze Fire

10/7/17

Breeders Futurity

Keeneland

Free Drop Billy

10/28/17

Racing Post Trophy

Doncaster

Saxon Warrior

11/4/17

Breeders' Cup Juvenile

Del Mar

Good Magic

11/25/17

Kentucky Jockey Club

Churchill Downs

Enticed

11/25/17

Cattleya Sho

Tokyo Racecourse

Ruggero

12/2/17

Remsen

Aqueduct

Catholic Boy

12/9/17

Los Alamitos Futurity

Los Alamitos

McKinzie

12/13/17

Zen-Nippon

Kawasaki

La Vent Se Leve

12/17/17

Springboard

Remington Park

Greyvitos

1/6/18

Sham

Santa Anita

McKinzie

1/13/18

Jerome

Aqueduct

Firenze Fire

1/13/18

Lecomte

Fair Grounds

Instilled Regard

1/15/18

Smarty Jones

Oaklawn

Mourinho

2/3/18

Robert Lewis

Santa Anita

Lombo

2/3/18

Withers

Aqueduct

Avery Island

2/3/18

Holy Bull

Gulfstream Park

Audible

2/10/18

Sam F. Davis

Tampa Bay Downs

Flameaway

2/17/18

El Camino Real

Golden Gate Fields

Paved

2/17/18

Risen Star

Fair Grounds

Bravazo

2/18/18

Hyacinth

Tokyo Racecourse

Ruggero

2/19/18

Southwest

Oaklawn

My Boy Jack

3/1/18

Condition Stakes

Kempton Park

Gronkowski

3/2/18

Patton

Dundalk

Mendelssohn

3/3/18

Fountain of Youth

Gulfstream Park

Promises Fufilled

3/10/18

Gotham

Aqueduct

Enticed

3/10/18

San Felipe

Santa Anita

Bolt d'Oro

3/10/18

Tampa Bay Derby

Tampa Bay Downs

Quip

3/17/18

Rebel

Oaklawn

Magnum Moon

3/17/18

Jeff Ruby Steaks

Turfway Park

Blended Citizen

3/24/18

Louisiana Derby

Fair Grounds

Noble Indy

3/25/18

Sunland Derby

Sunland Park

Runaway Ghost

3/30/18

Burradon

Newcastle

3/31/18

UAE Derby

Meydan Racecourse

3/31/18

Florida Derby

Gulfstream Park

4/7/18

Wood Memorial

Aqueduct

4/7/18

Blue Grass

Keeneland

4/7/18

Santa Anita Derby

Santa Anita

4/14/18

Arkansas Derby

Oaklawn

4/14/18

Lexington

Keeneland

5/5/18

Kentucky Derby

Churchill Downs

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