The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park This Saturday

by | Last updated Mar 30, 2023 | Horse Betting

The first Saturday in April at Gulfstream Park features the Grade 1 Florida Derby. There are 12 entries in this race covering 1 1/8 miles on dirt. Open to three-year-old thoroughbreds, the prize purse is set at $1 million. There is also qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 6.

From this field of entries in the Florida Derby, I have found my favorite, three legitimate contenders and a live longshot to win this race.

My Favorite

Forte is the favorite to win the Kentucky Derby in early May and he has 4-5 odds on the morning line to win the Florida Derby this Saturday. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he is breaking from the No. 11 gate with Irad Ortiz Jr. as his jockey. Forte has won his last four races, including the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream on Mar. 4. He covered the 1 1/16 miles on dirt in 1:43.12. Sired by Violence, he was bred to win the major graded stakes such as the Florida Derby.

Three Legitimate Contenders

My first legitimate contender is Fort Bragg at 5-1 odds. Despite a fifth-place finish in the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on Mar. 4, he has the second-favorite odds in this race.
Trained by Tim Yakteen and ridden by jockey Joel Rosario, he will start at No. 10. Fort Bragg finished first, second or third in all the races as a two-year-old colt.

Cyclone Mischief is also one of my top contenders at 8-1 odds. He finished third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes his last time out. The Kentucky-bred colt has raced his three-year career at
Gulfstream. As a son of Into Mischief, he has competed in more than a mile on dirt in four of six races early in his career. Cyclone Mischief is trained by Dale Romans. He is breaking out of the No. 9 gate with Javier Castellano as his jockey.


At 10-1 odds on the morning line, Mage could be a live longshot for this race. However, the fourth-place finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes under tough competition makes my grade as a legitimate contender in the Florida Derby. He has raced his three-year-old debut at Gulfstream after sitting out his juvenile campaign. Mage will be stepping up in distance and
class, but his home-track advantage could get him into the money in this race.

A Live Longshot

West Coast Cowboy is a 20-1 longshot in the Florida Derby after taking third place in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 4. Trained by Saffie Joseph Jr. with jockey Sonny Leon, this Kentucky-bred colt has also competed at Gulfstream his entire career. As a two-year-old, he was first in a one-mile Maiden Special Weight race on Sept. 9 and fourth in a one-mile Allowance race on Nov. 27. The breaks could fall his way in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream.

Don’t forget to check out Kenneth Strong’s Florida Derby top picks on race day plus his selections on the rest of the Gulfstream card!