Eight Stakes, Seven Graded, Worth $2.25 Million on March 28 Program
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL â€“ A total of 216 horses were nominated to eight stakes, seven of them graded, worth $2,250,000 on the March 28 program at Gulfstream Park, anchored by the 64th running of the $1 million Besilu Stables Florida Derby (G1).
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby for 3-year-olds drew the most nominations with 59, led by impressive Lambholm South Holy Bull (G2) winner and probable favorite Upstart, most recently disqualified from first to second for interference in the Besilu Stables Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 21.
Starlight Racingâ€™s undefeated colt Itsaknockout, promoted to the win in the Fountain of Youth, will be making his fourth career start in the Florida Derby. Trained by Championship Meet leader Todd Pletcher, Itsaknockout won his debut Dec. 7 and beat winners at first asking Jan. 4, both at Gulfstream Park.
Another unbeaten Pletcher-trained colt pointing to the Florida Derby is Materiality. The late-starting son of Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex has won his only two starts at Gulfstream by 10 combined lengths, taking a six-furlong maiden event Jan. 11 and the 1 1/8-mile Islamorada Stakes March 6.
Among other Florida Derby nominees are Tampa Bay Derby (G2) and Mucho Macho Man Stakes runner-up Amiâ€™s Flatter; Frammento, third in the Fountain of Youth; Sunday Silence Stakes winner My Point Exactly; and Indianaughty, an impressive Gulfstream allowance winner Jan. 14.
Grade 1 winners Angela Renee and By the Moon, graded stakes winners Birdatthewire, Cristinaâ€™s Journey and Jacaranda, and multiple stakes-winning Florida-bred Holywell are among the 22 3-year-old fillies nominated to the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2). Birdatthewire captured the Forward Gal (G2) Jan. 24 at Gulfstream and was upset in the Davona Dale (G2) by 26-1 long shot Ekatiâ€™s Phaeton, who also won the Old Hat (G3) this winter at Gulfstream.
The $300,000 Honey Fox (G2) for older turf males going one mile drew 22 nominations including Grade 1 winners Coffee Clique and Hard Not to Like, Grade 2 winners Istanford and Overheard, Grade 3 winners Annecdote, Sandiva and Speed Seeker, and Group 3 winner J Wonder.
Also on tap at Gulfstream March 28 are the $150,000 Skip Away (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 3/16 miles; the $150,000 Appleton (G3) for 4-year-olds and up going one mile on turf; the $150,000 Pan American (G3) for 4-year-olds and up at 1 Â½ miles on turf; the $150,000 Orchid (G3) for females 4 and up at 1 Â½ miles on turf; and the $100,000 Sir Shackleton for older sprinters going seven furlongs on the main track.
First race post time on Florida Derby Day is noon. For the first time, advance wagering on the 14-race program will be available beginning at noon March 27.
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