2023 Florida Derby Contenders

Horse Betting Online

Edited Gulfstream Park Press Release
Updated: March 29, 2023

Florida Derby Offers 100-40-30-20-10 Kentucky Derby Points To Top-Five Finishers

Forte (Repole Stable and St. Elias Stables) will seek to cement his standing as the top-rated Triple Crown candidate in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday April, 1 at Gulfstream Park.

The 2022 juvenile champion, who drew Post 11, has been installed as the 4-5 morning-line favorite in a field of a dozen 3-year-olds entered in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, which will headline a 14-race program with 10 stakes, including five graded races, worth $2.375 million in purses. The 14-race Florida Derby program with a first-race post time of 11:30 a.m. will offer a $1 million guaranteed Late Pick 5 pool and a $750,000 guaranteed Late Pick 4 pool.

If all 12 entries start, the Florida Derby field will be the largest since Big Brown beat 11 rivals in 2008.

2023 Florida Derby Field & Odds

Race 14 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, April 1 - Post 6:40 PM

Entry Horse ML Odds Jockey Trainer
1 Jungfrau 20-1 Paco Lopez
122 Lbs
William Mott
2 West Coast Cowboy 20-1 Sonny Leon
122 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
3 Shaq Diesel 30-1 Miguel Vasquez
122 Lbs
Renaldo Richards
4 Mage 10-1 Luis Saez
122 Lbs
Gustavo Delgado
5 Mr. Peeks 30-1 Edwin Gonzalez
122 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
6 Nautical Star 30-1 Leonel Reyes
122 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
7 Il Miracolo 30-1 Jesus Rios
122 Lbs
Antonio Sano
8 Mr. Ripple 30-1 Edgard Zayas
122 Lbs
Saffie Joseph, Jr.
9 Cyclone Mischief 8-1 Javier Castellano
122 Lbs
Dale Romans
10 Fort Bragg 5-1 Joel Rosario
122 Lbs
Tim Yakteen
11 Forte 4-5 Irad Ortiz, Jr.
122 Lbs
Todd Pletcher
12 Dubyuhnell 6-1 Jose Ortiz
122 Lbs
Danny Gargan

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Forte established himself as a clear early favorite for the May 6 Kentucky Derby (G1) when he made an auspicious 2023 debut in the March 4 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream Park. The son of Violence, who had won three consecutive Grade 1 races to finish his 2022 championship season, raced between horses while rating off the early pace before advancing along the backstretch, swinging four-wide into the stretch and drawing away to a 4 ½-length victory under Irad Ortiz Jr.

"The Fountain of Youth couldn't have gone any better for us," Pletcher said. "When Irad and I spoke before the race we kind of had a certain plan in mind and sort of had laid out where we hoped he would be. As you know a lot of times when the gate opens things can change and you have to be prepared to adjust to that, but really the race unfolded almost exactly the way we thought it would, and we were in exactly the position we hoped we would be. The real key is when called upon, he was there."

Forte won four of five starts during his championship juvenile season that was launched with a 7 ¾-length victory at Belmont Park last May. After finishing fourth in the six-furlong Sanford (G2), he rallied from off the pace to win the seven-furlong Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga. He polished off a stellar campaign with a pair of off-the-pace scores around two turns in the Breeders' Futurity (G1) at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

Ortiz has been aboard Forte for all six career starts and has been named to return to the saddle for the Florida Derby.

"Irad's gotten to know the colt really well. He's rode him in every start, and he's also worked him quite a few times. I think part of what we've been trying to do in the mornings is sort of replicate his running style, sitting off a horse just a little bit and then teaching him to finish up and kind of stay focused," Pletcher said. "As impressively as he's won a couple of these races, he's kind of come to the wire with his ears up taking everything in. Obviously, as these races get a little more difficult, he'll need to stay focused."

Pletcher has saddled a record six Florida Derby winners; Scat Daddy, (2007), Constitution (2014), Materiality (2015), Always Dreaming (2017), Audible (2018) and Known Agenda (2021).

Horse Racing Rebates

"We love the positioning of the Florida Derby five weeks out. We're happy about that. It gives us a little more time to stay in Florida before we ship north and hopefully have a couple more weeks of good weather before we need to move up," Pletcher said. "The Florida Derby on its own is a very important race. Historically, it's been a stallion-making race and an important Grade 1 on any horse's resume."

Having already secured sufficient points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, Forte and Saturday's rivals will be eligible for 200 qualifying points that will be shared by the first five finishers with 100 going to the winner. The 50-points that will go to the runner-up will likely be enough to earn a trip to Churchill Downs.

Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons' Cyclone Mischief, who rebounded from a disappointing effort in the Feb. 4 Holy Bull (G3) with a third-place finish in the Fountain of Youth, is scheduled to return in the Florida Derby. The Dale Romans-trained son of Into Mischief set the pace into the stretch before being overtaken by Forte and Holy Bull winner Rocket Can, who finished second, 1 ¼ lengths ahead of him.

Cyclone Mischief, who was rated at 8-1 on the morning line after drawing Post 9, made a flashy 2023 debut with a 5 ¾-length romp in a mile optional claiming allowance Jan. 8 at Gulfstream.

Javier Castellano has the mount aboard the $450,000 purchase at the 2021 Keeneland September sale.

Romans saddled Shackleford, who was a photo-finish second behind Dialed In in the 2011 Florida Derby at 68-1. Shackleford went on to finish fourth in the Kentucky Derby and win the Preakness Stakes (G1). Romans also finished second in the 2006 Florida Derby with Sharp Humor, who finished a half-length behind heavily favored Barbaro.

"It's different with every horse. Shackleford, going into the race I would have been very excited to say we were going to run second. He was 60-1 if you remember. He was coming off a horrible race where we never figured out why he ran bad." Romans said. "[Against] Barbaro, nobody ever expected to beat him, but we made him work for it. Both those races were pretty exciting."

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr., who saddled White Abarrio for a victory in last year's Florida Derby, is represented in this year's field by four longshots - Gentry Farms' West Coast Cowboy, Legacy Racing LLC's Mr. Ripple, C2 Racing Stable LLC and Stefania Farms LLC's Nautical Star and C2 Racing Stable LLC's Mr. Peeks.

West Coast Cowboy, a lightly raced son of West Coast trained by Saffie Joseph Jr., is set to make his first start since finishing third in the Holy Bull in his third career start.

"He ran very good in the Holy Bull, actually. He ran above expectations. He's come back since then. He was supposed to go to Tampa, and he got sick, so he missed that, and we ended up here," Joseph said. "He worked this morning. He actually worked as bad as he did going into the Holy Bull but he ran very good in the Holy Bull. He's not a very flashy horse in the morning. Hopefully, if he can build on the Holy Bull, he should have a chance to maybe pick up a piece of it."

Mr. Ripple is slated to make his stakes debut in the Florida Derby. The son of Dialed In made an eye-catching debut while winning by nine lengths at Gulfstream in October. He came back to finish third behind Cyclone Mischief in a Jan. 8 optional claiming allowance and second behind Classic Causeway in a March 2 optional claiming allowance.

"Mr. Ripple has run some decent races. He's the kind of horse that maybe doesn't have the best kick, but he's a horse that's competitive," Joseph said. "If he could sit the right trip, he might be able to pick up a piece of it also."

Nautical Star rallied from off the pace to graduate in his second career start last month, while Mr. Peeks is a maiden after two starts.

Sonny Leon has the mount on West Coast Cowboy, while Edgard Zayas is named on Mr. Ripple. Leonel Reyes has the call on Nautical Star and Edwin Gonzalez is named on Mr. Peeks.

OGMA Investments LLC, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing and CMNWLTH's Mage, who showed a lot of grit while finishing fourth in the Fountain of Youth in only his second career start, is slated to return in the Florida Derby. The Gustavo Delgado-trained son off Good Magic, who experienced gate trouble, bumping and a wide trip in that race, had previously debuted with a 3 ¾-length victory Jan. 28 at Gulfstream.

Luis Saez been named to ride Mage, who was rated at 10-1 on the morning line after drawing Post 4.

SF Racing and partners' Fort Bragg is scheduled to make his first start outside Southern California in the Florida Derby. Formerly trained by Bob Baffert and now conditioned by Tim Yakteen, the son of Tapit is coming off a fifth-place finish in the March 4 San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita in his 3-year-old debut. Fort Bragg, who was entered to run in Sunday's Sunland Derby (G3), finished third in the Los Alamitos Futurity in his final 2022 start.

Joel Rosario has the call aboard the $700,000 purchase at the 2021 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October sale. Fort Bragg, who will break one stall inside Forte in the starting gate, is rated second on the morning line at 5-1.

West Paces Racing LLC and Stonestreet Stables LLC's Dubyuhnell will seek to rebound from a disappointing performance in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs in his 3-year-old debut. The son of Good Magic, who finished sixth as the 2-1 favorite at Tampa, had concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a victory in the 1 1/8-mile Remsen (G2) over a sloppy Aqueduct main track.

The Danny Gargan trainee, who broke his maiden in the Aqueduct slop in his previous start, will be ridden by Jose Ortiz. Dubyuhnell, who drew Post 12, is rated third on the morning line at 6-1.

Juddmonte's Jungfrau, Alex Andres LLC's Il Miracolo, and Chester Bishop and Anthony Hinkson's Shaq Diesel round out the field.

Pre-Draw News

Forte Headlines G1 Florida Derby Nominations

March 19 - Forte, the 2022 juvenile champion who made an auspicious 2023 debut in the February 4th Fountain of Youth (G2), is prominent on a list of 23 3-year-olds nominated to the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) on April 1 at Gulfstream Park.

The 72nd running of the Florida Derby, a history-rich 1 1/8-mile Triple Crown prep, will be featured on a program with 10 stakes, including five graded stakes.

Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Forte professionally negotiated traffic and a wide trip on his way to a dominating 4 ½-length Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, backing up a stellar 2-year-old season, during which he captured three straight Grade 1 stakes - the Hopeful at Saratoga, the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland and the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland.

Pletcher has saddled a record six Florida Derby winners; Scat Daddy, (2007), Constitution (2014), Materiality (2015), Always Dreaming (2017), Audible (2018) and Known Agenda (2021).

Whisper Hill Farm LLC's Tapit Trice, the winner of the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) who is likely to return in the April 8 Bluegrass (G1) at Keeneland), and Classic Catch, a recent allowance winner at Gulfstream, also represent Pletcher on the Florida Derby nominations list.

Albaugh Family Stable LLC's Cyclone Mischief, who set the pace before giving way late to finish third in the Fountain of Youth; and West Paces Racing LLC' and Stonestreet Stables LLC's Dubyuhnell, the winner of last season's Remsen (G2) at Belmont; are among the nominees already scheduled to start in the Florida Derby. Cyclone Mischief,, a son of Into Mischief, is trained by Dale Romans

Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc.'s Rocket Can, who finished second behind Forte in the Fountain of Youth after capturing the Holy Bull (G3) at Gulfstream, was nominated to the Florida Derby by Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott but is not listed among the probable starters. Mott-trained Jungfrau, a son of Arrogate who finished off the board in the Withers (G3) at Aqueduct after breaking his maiden for Juddmonte, is a candidate to return in the Florida Derby.

OGMA Investments and partner's Mage, who finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth following an eye-catching debut victory at Gulfstream, has been nominated to the Florida Derby by trainer Gustavo Delgado, who is also looking at the April 8 Blue Grass (G1) at Keeneland for the son of Good Magic.

Trainer Tim Yakteen is represented on the Florida Derby nominations list by three horses, Reincarnate, National Treasure and Fort Bragg. The trio of formerly trained by Bob Baffert and owned by SF Racing and partners are scheduled to race in stakes elsewhere.

Gary Barber's Classic Car Wash, who finished second in the Tampa Bay Derby, was nominated to the Florida Derby but is expected to race elsewhere.

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. is represented on the nominations list by seven 3-year-olds, including West Coast Cowboy, Lord Miles, Mr. Peeks, Mr. Ripple, Nautical Star, Prairie Hawk and Run Cory Run.

The Florida Derby will be supported on the April 1 card by the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), the $200,000 Pan American (G2), the $150,000 Orchid (G2), the $150,0000 Ghostzapper (G3), the $150,000 Appleton, the $150,000 Sand Springs; the $100,000 Sanibel Island, the $100,000 Cutler Bay and the $100,000 Sir Shackleton.

Forte Preps for G1 Florida Derby

March 17 - Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Forte returned to the worktab at Palm Beach Downs Friday in preparation for a scheduled start in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park.

The Todd Pletcher-trained 2022 Eclipse Award-winning 2-year-old male breezed for the first time since his tour de force 2023 debut in the $400,000 Fountain of Youth (G2) March 4 at Gulfstream Park. The son of Violence breezed a half-mile in 50.72 under regular jockey Irad Ortiz Jr.

"I thought it was super. The horse is doing extremely well. He came out of the Fountain of Youth in great shape. He had a nice breeze this morning, just a half-mile. He finished up strongly with a good gallop-out," Pletcher said. "He's very happy and moving well."

Forte showed he doesn't need things to go his way to dominate his rivals when he overcame bumping at the start and raced in traffic before launching a four-wide bid into the stretch, where he drew off to win by 4 ½ lengths without coming under pressure.

"He came back with really good energy. His appetite has been super. He's doing all the things the way you'd want him to be doing them," Pletcher said. "He's coming out of a big race and leading up to another big one. I couldn't be more pleased."

The Hall of Fame trainer has saddled a record six Florida Derby winners; Scat Daddy, (2007), Constitution (2014), Materiality (2015), Always Dreaming (2017), Audible (2018) and Known Agenda (2021).

At Gulfstream Park, Antonio Sano-trained Congruent and Il Miracolo breezed five furlongs Friday morning. Congruent, who captured the Battaglia Memorial (G3) at Turfway last time out, was timed in 1:01.37 in preparation for a planned start in the March 25 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3). Il Miracolo was timed in a `bullet' 1:00.50 in preparation for a likely start in the Curlin Florida Derby.

Gustavo Delgado-trained Mage, who finished fourth in the Fountain of Youth in only his second career start, breezed five furlongs Friday morning in 1:02.38.

Trainer Pletcher Looking For Florida Derby Record

March 9 - Todd Pletcher will be in search of a record-extending seventh success in the $1 million Curlin Florida Derby (G1) April 1 at Gulfstream Park, and the Hall of Fame trainer is supremely confident in Forte's preparation for the historic 1 1/8-mile Triple Crown prep.

Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable's Forte brings an extensive resume into the Florida Derby that includes an Eclipse Award as North America's 2022 2-year-old male championship; three Grade 1 victories, including a triumph in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile; and a stellar 3-year-old debut in the March 4 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream, in which he pulled away to a 4 ½-length score after negotiating heavy traffic between horses.

"Part of what was so great about his 2-year-old campaign, beside being Breeders' Cup champion and champion 2-year-old, was he got a lot of foundation and a lot of good experience," Pletcher said. "That kind of makes a lot of things easier this year due to the fact that he has experience and is able to run a race like he did in the Fountain of Youth - sitting behind horses, taking kickback like a seasoned pro, traveling well throughout waiting for Irad to ask him to advance. A lot of that is because he had such a good foundation at 2."

Pletcher has saddled Scat Daddy (2007), Constitution (2014), Materiality (2015), Always Dreaming (2017), Audible (2018) and Known Agenda (2021) for Florida Derby victories.

"South Florida is our home winter base, so naturally we're going to have our best 3-year-olds here. I think, really, when the Florida Derby moved to five weeks out that was a great placement and put you in a good position for the Kentucky Derby," said Pletcher, who saddled Always Dreaming for a Kentucky Derby (G1) triumph, as well as winning the first leg of the Triple Crown with Super Saver in 2010. "Now that the Gulfstream meet is different than it used to be back in the day. The Florida Derby was more of a prep to another prep, whereas now it's the final prep."

Forte has proven, especially in the Fountain of Youth, that he doesn't need his own way to assert his dominance.

"He's given us every indication the way he handles himself, his adaptability, his rateability and all of those things will play in his favor," Pletcher said.

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