2015 Florida Derby Picks with Odds and Expert Betting Predictions
by Trevor Whenham - 3/25/2015
Now things get serious on the Triple Crown trail. We have seen some fantastic prep races so far, and this is as good a group of horses — at least at the top end — as we have seen for years. Now we get to start seeing all of those horses run their final prep race before the big one — the Kentucky Derby. We don’t have one of the true superstars here in the Florida Derby, but we have one heck of a good rivalry and a few intriguing challengers to give those two chase. It should be a great race.
Of course, the Florida Derby is almost always a great race. It certainly is a race known for producing great winners. The race has only been run since 1952, yet 57 different horses have gone on from this race to win at least one Triple Crown race. Most recently, Orb won both this race and the Kentucky Derby in 2013.
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Here are the five horses that stand out as most interesting in the field:
Upstart (8/5): This horse has solid experience. He has won four races in six starts — or at least crossed the finish line first four times. In the two losses, though, he not only had excuses, but he looked pretty good. In the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile he held up under a brutal early pace, was bumped around the final corner, and still held on to finish third. In the Champagne he finished second despite facing a very sloppy track. There is, technically, a third loss. He was the first to cross the line in the Fountain of Youth, which is the major prep for this race, but the stewards ruled that he interfered with Itsaknockout, and that horse was awarded the win. He’s fast. He’s tough. He has handled different distances comfortably. His final work leading up to this race was spectacular. Add it all up and you have a deserving favorite. I think he is the horse to beat in this field, though he will have his hands full with the two Todd Pletcher horses we will talk about next. I’d love to try to beat him given the price, but I feel forced to bet on him at this price.
Itsaknockout (2/1): This is the first of two inexperienced but undefeated horses Pletcher has in the field. He made his debut in December, and this will be his fourth outing of his career — all at Gulfstream Park. He’s well-bred, and he has been versatile in his limited outings. He showed a lot in the Fountain of Youth, fighting back twice when it looked like he was beaten. He’s raw enough that he should be able to take a step forward, and he is talented. I’m just not convinced that his best is good enough here.
Materiality (7/2): Itsaknockout looks like a seasoned veteran compared to this horse. He has run just twice and is making his stakes debut. Both wins have been fairly impressive, though, so he is one to watch. I think he has a bit more upside than his stablemate, and I like that John Velazquez has chosen this horse when he has the pick of the Pletcher litter. However, I really struggle to get excited about a potential Triple Crown horse that only started racing in January. I would bet him over Itsaknockout, but I’d need a better price than this to make an investment.
Ami’s Flatter (8/1): Realistically there are only three horses in this field that look to have high-level potential. In the search for value with the longer shots, though, there are two others that arouse at least a little interest. This horse was only recently aimed to this race. He was previously headed to the Blue Grass Stakes, but a good work suggested he was ready to race now and not a week later. He was second in his last two outings — the Tampa Bay Derby, and a lower-level stakes at Gulfstream in January. I’m not sure he’s good enough — in fact, I’m pretty sure he’s not. I do like, though, that Javier Castellano is going to be in the stirrups. He’s the master of Gulfstream — he’ll soon wrap up his fourth straight meet title — so he’ll get the most out of this horse.
Indianaughty (20/1): This horse is a son of the should-have-been-great Indian Charlie, so he intrigues me on that front alone. I also like the change of surface. He started out running on synthetics in England and then has tried synthetic and turf over here. He hasn’t looked great there, but he is trying dirt for the first time here, and that is where Indian Charlie offspring have really done well — he has sired four different dirt champions. He could take a step forward. With such low-priced favorites, a horse like this jumping up into the exotics would really give a much-needed boost to prices.
Raphael Esparza will be handicapping the Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby this weekend. Esparza is one of the best horse racing handicappers in the nation, and he is expecting a big payday this weekend and throughout the Road to the Kentucky Derby. He scored a big profit last weekend in the Spiral Stakes with $20 across the board on a 16-1 long shot, and he expects more profits this weekend. Get his weekend picks for the race here, or new clients can take advantage of Doc’s no-hassle $60 free picks offer and get Esparza’s weekend racing picks and still have a $30 credit to use for any picks from any handicapper on the site. Click here for $60 worth of free picks.
Read more articles by Trevor Whenham
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