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Florida Derby Picks

2015 Florida Derby Picks and Analysis - Taking a shot against Upstart

Florida Derby-G1

Race 14, Gulfstream Park, Saturday, March 28, 2015

3-Year-Olds, 1 1/8-miles, Dirt, Purse: $1 Million

Florida Derby Picks

1. Itsaknockout

2. Materiality

3. Upstart

4. Ami's Flatter

Florida Derby Analysis

Note: Be sure to check out Ken's Louisiana Derby Picks running today!

Stakes everywhere today including a packed card at Gulfstream Park highlighted by the 68th running of the Florida Derby-G1, one of our favourite Kentucky Derby preps.

Upstart is the logical favorite in Gulfstream Park's signature race after a 2 3/4-length win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes on February 21, but he could be ripe for an upset. He was disqualified and placed second in the Fountain of Youth for interfering with fellow Florida Derby entrant Itsaknockout, and the latter could have more upside than the favorite.

Itsaknockout was moved up into the win spot in the Fountain of Youth, which left him with a perfect 3-for-3 record, and this time he's brought reinforcement in the form of his speedy stablemate Materiality, who has already proven himself in a minor stakes at Gulfstream going the Florida Derby distance.

Both Itsaknockout and Materiality are trained by Todd Pletcher, and while we've never been big Pletcher fans when it comes to the Kentucky Derby, his one-two punch in this year's Florida Derby could result in an upset if they can get perfect rides.


The race sets up with three speed horses including Jack Tripp, Indianaughty and My Point Exactly setting the pace, with Materiality sitting right behind that trio waiting to pounce. If jockey J R Velazquez avoids a duel he has a chance to get the jump on both Upstart and Itsaknockout into the stretch at decent morning line odds of 7/2. The question is whether he can handle the class raise when the big guns come running.

While Upstart deserves to be favored off physical wins in the Holy Bull-G2 and the Fountain of Youth under J L Ortiz, his effort in the latter race was simply not that impressive. He drifted out and bothered Itsaknockout as that one was trying to go by him in deep stretch before finally drawing out late. We were expecting better of Upstart that day and we're not sure whether he bounced in his second start off the layoff or whether some cracks are starting to show.

Itsaknockout is listed at 2-1 on the morning line and he does have the angle of a horse making its second start up in class after a good effort on the class raise. He's worth a play on that angle alone, and if we can get him home first or second with stablemate Materiality the exacta price will be excellent.

We'll take Itsaknockout on top in the Florida Derby exacta with Materiality and Upstart underneath and reverse the exacta for half the amount. We'll take a similar stance in the trifecta and superfectas but will use all on the bottom in the fourth position in the superfecta. And we'll take a small extra exacta box on the two Pletcher horses.

We'll let odds determine which Pletcher horse we're betting to win. If Itsaknockout is below 2-1 and Materiality is 4-1 or better, we'll likely take a shot on Materiality to get a perfect trip and sneak away in early stretch, saving just enough to hold on late. He did post a triple digit Beyer Speed Figure in his last race, so he does have enough talent. We'll just have to hope his jockey doesn't go dumb-dumb on us and get into a duel early in the race. Of course, that's never happened before.


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