Union Dues – Florida Derby Preview

This weekend marks five weeks until the Kentucky Derby and a key prep race is on tap: Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The Florida Derby has a history of producing legitimate Kentucky Derby contenders including recent Derby winners Barbaro (2005) and Big Brown (2008) and 2010 runner-up Ice Box. This year’s edition features a field of nine horses with two that look to have some real ability; let’s break it down.

Weather Outlook: mid 80s, sunny

Gulfstream Park Race 11– Grade I Florida Derby ($1 Million) – 1 1/8th Miles – 5:40 (EDT) Post Time

Last year’s Derby favorite going into his final prep race was Uncle Mo in the Wood Memorial. This year it’s #6 UNION RAGS (6/5) in the Florida Derby. This colt has been very impressive in his brief racing career thus far and may very well win this race, albeit at much less than his 6/5 morning line odds.

I’m here to offer alternatives and #8 EL PADRINO (2-1) is UNION RAGS’ biggest threat. There’s some backstory involving these horses having to do with jockey Javier Castellano. Castellano was UNION RAGS’ regular rider, but jumped off the mount earlier in the year for another Derby contender (Algorithms) who’s now off the Derby trail due to a minor injury. Both UNION RAGS and EL PADRINO looked tremendous in their last races and should take most of the wagering action.

It’s tough to have much confidence with the other contenders in this race. #2 NEWS PENDING (8-1) ran second to UNION RAGS in the Fountain of Youth, but he set a relatively soft pace and had nothing left when the real running started. #3 TAKE CHARGE INDY (5-1) is another possible contender. He showed ability as a two-year old, but Calvin Borel in the saddle and odds around 5-1 do not excite me.

I expect UNION RAGS and EL PADRINO will sit just off the pace and be head and head coming down the stretch. I’ll give EL PADRINO a slight advantage as Castellano will be looking to make up for his past mistake and EL PADRINO should offer slightly more wagering value to boot.

Good Luck!

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