By Charles Jay
Here’s a look at the field:
Race 14 – The Florida Derby – 6:36 PM ET
1. As Seen On Tv (FL) P Lopez 12-1
2 Shivaree (FL) E Jaramillo 30-1
5 Gouverneur Morris (KY) J R Velazquez 8-1
7 Tiz The Law (NY) M Franco 6-5
8 My First Grammy (KY) H I Berrios 50-1
9 Independence Hall (KY) J Rosario 9-2
10 Candy Tycoon (KY) Luis Saez 20.-1
12 Ete Indien (KY) F Geroux 4-1
13 Rogue Element (KY) M A Vasquez 50-1
Four horses were scratches – Disc Jockey (3), Soros (4), Ajaaweed (6) and Sassy But Smart (11). So this brings an also eligible, maiden Rogue Element into the field.
Tiz The Law is the rightful favorite at 6-5. Gulfstream fans witnessed an impressive win in the Holy Bull Stakes on February 1, as he registered a Beyer speed figure of 100. And trainer Tagg Barclay has been preparing him for this one, rather than entering the Fountain of Youth Stakes. And take note that in his last effort, Tiz The Law bested Ete Indien, who cruised to a win in that F.O.Y. over two of today’s contenders, Candy Tycoon and As Seen on TV. There was one loss, on a sloppy track. But last year’s Champagne Stakes winner is considered by some to be as good as any three-year-old in the country. But there’s been a layoff of seven weeks.
Ete Indien did have a monster run in the Fountain of Youth, starting from an outside post and moving to the lead early, bringing it home without much resistance. Still, what can’t be escaped was that Tiz The Law appeared much the much the best when it counted on that occasion they went against each other.
Gouverneur Morris is afforded a fair chance by some. Beaten decisively in last year’s Breeders Futurity by Maxfield, who went on to win the Breeders Cup Juvenile and could be the Kentucky Derby favorite, you get the feeling the best is absolutely yet to come for Todd Pletcher’s charge. He’s got the same sire as Tiz The Law (Constitution) but is making a sharp move up in class, having competed in an optional claimer at Tampa Bay about six weeks ago.
Candy Tycoon is Pletcher’s other contender here, and only one race after breaking maiden (in his fifth try), put forth a pretty game effort in the Fountain of Youth, coming second. But it was a decisively beaten second. Not convinced there’s enough to beat this company, even though he shouldn’t have trouble getting the distance. Note that jockey Javier Castellano is in quarantine after testing positive for the coronavirus, so Luis Saez replaces him.
Independence Hall had a 101 Beyer figure in the Nashua Stakes last year. He dropped off a little in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay last month, but a lot of smart people are throwing that out because of equipment problems, but that was also the first time he moved out to a mile and a sixteenth.
Shivaree is largely a sprint horse and it would be hard to believe that stretching out in distance and moving up in class (lost a $100,000 stakes – the Hutcheson – last time out), he is equal to the task.
I don’t mind taking favorites when competing in WagerWAR, since we like to get return on investment. But the price on Tiz The Law does not invite me. And I don’t believe that with some speed in this race, someone is just going to hand the rail over to Ete Indien right out of the gate like they did last time. And that would make this a different ballgame for rider Florent Geroux.
Here, I may take a shot with upside, which points me to Pletcher, a winner of five of the last six Florida Derbies he’s entered, and Gouverneur Morris, ridden by Johnny Velasquez, who has won this race five times in the last ten years. That’s a pretty good combination. In an exacta box, we’ll include Tiz The Law.