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Catholic Boy the play over Audible in 67th Florida Derby

Florida Derby-G1, Gulfstream Park
Race 14, Saturday, March 31, 2018
Distance: 1 1/8-miles. Surface: Dirt. Purse: $1.1 Million

2018 Florida Derby Picks

Florida Derby Analysis

Audible is the obvious horse to beat in the 67th Florida Derby, but Catholic Boy could get a great trip at a better price and that makes him the play.

Audible got a dream trip under Javier Castellano to win the Holy Bull Stakes-G2 in his last at Gulfstream Park, but he looked powerful doing it and made hard knocker Free Drop Billy look ordinary. He’ll get a rider switch to Hall of Famer John Velasquez today, as Castellano is away in Dubai, but that certainly won’t hurt his chances. Audible faces tougher here, but he was running away from his field in his last and the extra eighth of a mile today doesn’t look like it will be a problem.

Remsen-G1 winner Catholic Boy made his first start as a 3-year-old off a two-month layoff in the Sam F Davis-G3 at Tampa Bay Downs and was wide throughout before finishing a game but out-of-air second. He made the lead in early stretch in that race, but it looked like he needed the race in the last 200 yards. Like Audible, he should get good trip stalking a forced pace today under top jock Irad Ortiz Jr. who takes off Fountain of Youth-G2 winner and fellow Florida Derby entrant Promises Fulfilled to ride Catholic Boy today.

Ortiz gave out riding lessons aboard Promises Fulfilled in the Fountain of Youth. He stole the lead from inside speed Strike Power early and on the final turn he shut down an inside move from Storm Runner. Both Strike Power and Storm Runner are back for more today and Storm Power will get a rider switch to Tyler Gaffalione. Saez stays aboard Strike Power while Robbie Albarado takes over on Promises Fulfilled. Strike Power will probably have to go to the lead from the inside or compromise his chances again. Storm Runner deserves at least one more chance to redeem himself after being shut down in his last.

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Mississippi is an interesting entrant at an attractive price. He comes off a neck loss to Storm Runner in his last and in his race previous to that he finished a close second behind subsequent Louisiana Derby-G2 winner Noble Indy. He’d likely need a dream trip to threaten in the Florida Derby Exacta, but he will be a price.

The last horse we’ll mention is Hofburg. Trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and slated to be ridden by top jock Jose Ortiz, you have to wonder why he’s in the race. Mott doesn’t get stars in his eyes over the Triple Crown races like most trainers, and he doesn’t run horses in these kinds of races unless he thinks they belong. Still, Irad Ortiz Jr. did take off this horse to ride Catholic Boy. Hofburg wasn’t flashy breaking his maiden, but he obviously has some talent and should improve in this third lifetime start.

Once again this race sets up with Strike Power supposedly going to the lead from the inside under pressure from Promises Fulfilled and maybe even Mississippi. Right behind that group will be Storm Runner and Audible followed by Catholic Boy and Hofburg.

Audible and Storm Runner will likely make the first bids on the turn and if they get into a tussle with the Strike Power and Promises Fulfilled the race should set up perfectly for Catholic Boy, with Hofburg as our longshot rallier.

Catholic Boy is the pick to win and place, on top of Audible and Hofburg in the Exacta. We’ll reverse the exacta for half the amount and take those three to the board in the Florida Derby Superfecta.

Strong's Pick: Take ‘em to church Catholic Boy!

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