Florida Derby Predictions, Odds, Picks (Gulfstream Park)

Florida Derby Odds and Post Position

Check out our predictions and odds for the 2022 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park!

PP Horse Odds Jockey Trainer
1 STRIKE HARD 20/1
BET HERE
J Alvarado M Williams
2 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY 3/1
BET HERE
I Ortiz Jr B Lynch
3 SIMPLIFICATION 5/2
BET HERE
J Ortiz A Sano
4 KING OF TRUTH 50/1
BET HERE
J Morelos A Sanchez
5 PAPPACAP 12/1
BET HERE
E Gonzalez M Casse
6 CHARGE IT 7/2
BET HERE
L Saez T Pletcher
7 WHITE ABARRIO 4/1
BET HERE
T Gaffalione S Joseph Jr
8 CAJUN’S MAGIC 30/1
BET HERE
J Rios M Yates
9 O CAPTAIN 15/1
BET HERE
J Rosario G Delgado
10 CLAPTON 30/1
BET HERE
E Jaramillo J Alvarado
11 STEAL SUNSHINE 30/1
BET HERE
L Reyes B Dibona

Florida Derby Predictions and Best Bets

Here are my plays ($50 in total)

$10 Exacta Part Wheel – White Abarrio and Simplification over White Abarrio, Simplification and Classic Causeway = $40

$5 Exacta Part Wheel – White Abarrio and Simplification over O Captain = $10

Top Pick White Abarrio (4/1)

Florda Derby White Abarrio

Simplification and White Abarrio will renew their South Florida rivalry when they headline a strong field of eleven entered in the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

A son of Not This Time, Simplification could be the favorite on Saturday despite losing his one meeting with White Abarrio in the Holy Bull. The second-place finish came with a pretty big excuse, though, as he blew the break that afternoon.

Sandwiched around the defeat have come decisive victories in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes in January and last month’s Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes for trainer Antonio Sano.

White Abarrio will make his first start since getting the better of Simplification in the Grade 3 Holy Bull eight weeks ago. Trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., the gray colt has won 3-of-4 overall, with all three victories coming at Gulfstream.

Classic Causeway is also a top contender in Gulfstream Park’s signature race. A son of Giant’s Causeway, he has won both his starts this year in convincing style, including the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby most recently.

Another who should get plenty of betting support on Saturday is the well-bred Charge It. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Tapit comes in off an 8 ½-length maiden romp at Gulfstream seven weeks ago.

Contested at 1 1/8-miles, the Grade 1 Florida Derby will award Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale to the top four finishers.

Florida Derby Predictions and Race Analysis

Simplification

A winner of two of the three preps for the Florida Derby, this one deserves favoritism in the contentious race. Clearly at home over the track and getting better, his only loss in three consecutive Gulfstream Park stakes came after a bad start.

Even when winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth last time, he encountered some traffic trouble on the backstretch, before swinging out wide to win in an impressive fashion. A repeat performance on Saturday could be enough to win another one, but this promises to be his toughest test to date.

Of the top four favorites in the race, this Antonio Sano-trained son of Not This Time appears to have the most versatile running style, having won races on the lead and from off the pace. He is the horse to beat and a must-use in the exotics.

Classic Causeway

This Brian Lynch-trained multiple graded stakes winner has shown plenty of class ever since his debut victory at Saratoga last summer. Moved right into graded stakes racing, he was competitive in both the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland and the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs with less than ideal trips.

Since the runner-up finishes behind Smile Happy at Churchill Downs, the son of Giant’s Causeway is 2-for-2 against the slightly easier competition in graded stakes races at Tampa Bay Downs. Now he moves cross-state for the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

With plenty of natural speed, he should be on or near the lead from the get-go, and it will then be a matter of whether he can hold off the challenges likely to come from the likes of Simplification and White Abarrio. An obvious threat, I like the horses who have been running over the Gulfstream surface just a tiny bit more.

Charge It

This son of Tapit does not have near the experience of the other three favorites, but rather is the one with the potential to be a serious graded stakes horse. Trained by Todd Pletcher, he just missed in his debut in January to a horse who is since graded stakes placed, as the two left the others far behind.

Hammered down to 1/5 next out, he ran to his odds and dominated fellow maidens by more than eight lengths. He showed enough speed in his first two races to believe he can contend early as he now moves all the way up to the Grade 1 Florida Derby.

The potential might be there, but Simplification, Classic Causeway and White Abarrio all are proven at a high level. For that reason, and the lack of value, I am going to take a pass on him in his graded stakes debut.

White Abarrio


An impressive winner of the Holy Bull in his most recent start, you have to like what this son of Race Day has done at Gulfstream Park, winning all three starts at different distances with ease.

In fact, the Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trainee has lost just once in his career and that came after being stuck behind horses for much of the trip when third behind Smile Happy and Classic Causeway in a tough edition of the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs last November.

Obviously, a horse who likes the track, he also has the good tactical speed to find a favorable forward position early. This is a tough group he is going against, but in his last two, he has proven that he belongs against top horses. After eight weeks between races, he should be raring to go. He is the top pick.

Pappacap

One of the more accomplished horses in the race, he returns to the track where he broke his maiden in his career debut early last year. Since then, he has competed exclusively in graded stakes in California and New Orleans.

While there are plenty of good finishes in those races, he might be a horse that is being caught up to and passed, as other 3-year-olds are maturing.

Having said that, if you can draw a line through his only bad performance, which came last time when eighth in the Grade 2 Risen Star, he becomes a horse much easier to consider. I have my doubts, though.

O Captain

If there is a horse to make noise in Saturday’s Grade 1 affair at juicy odds, this lightly raced son of Carpe Diem is the most likely to be the one. He will certainly need to improve if he is to seize the day, but his rallying third last time in both his graded stakes and two-turn debut gives hope.

Trained by Gustavo Delgado, he showed plenty of speed when an impressive first-out winner at Gulfstream Park last summer. Not seen again in the afternoon for nearly five months, his return race came in the six-furlong Limehouse Stakes, and although unable to keep up with a pair of fast sprinters, he was good enough to finish third.

He never looked like a winner as a big longshot in the Fountain of Youth, but he rallied well to get from last up for third. Perhaps he can be a little more in the race early on Saturday. He is the longshot I will use a bit to spice up the exotics.

Strike Hard

An impressive winner of a Gulfstream Park allowance race three starts back, this gray son of Flashback has been somewhat competitive in two subsequent stakes starts, but not a true threat to either Simplification in the Mucho Macho Man, or to Classic Causeway last time.

Add in the allowance race four starts back, where he could not match strides with White Abarrio in the stretch of an allowance race, and it paints a pretty clear picture, that while he is a nice horse, he is a cut below the favorites of the Florida Derby.

Cajun’s Magic

This son of Cajun Breeze had some pretty solid success as a 2-year-old, finishing first, and second twice in the Florida Stallion Series races at Gulfstream Park.

Still, not a whole lot was expected of him when he debuted as a 3-year-old in the Holy Bull. The result wasn’t terrible, as he stayed in touch early before fading a bit to finish fifth of nine.

He’ll be a pretty big longshot again in here, but could show some improvement and likely has enough talent to be in the running early. As for sticking around in the stretch, it’s not very likely, but stranger things have happened.

Steal Sunshine

This son of Constitution made some noise with a 10 ½-length maiden win in his dirt debut three starts back. It came against cheaper, though, and he has not been able to build upon the victory in two subsequent allowance tries.

The talented In Due Time left him well behind in his sophomore debut, and then he rallied for second in a nine-furlong race last time. It was a pretty good effort, but not nearly enough to believe that he can make a dent in this field.

Clapton

This Florida-bred is pretty experienced and has managed to finish in the money five times in eight-lifetime races. While three of his previous races have come in stakes races, they were all restricted and the best he could manage was a third in one of them.

More recently, he has been knocking heads with state-bred allowance runners where he has been competitive without winning. The jump up to Grade 1 competition seems way too much for the son of Brethren.

King of Truth

While this longshot may have King in his name, the truth of the matter is he looks to be a hopeless pretender in this difficult field. His only career win came at Belterra Park and the last time he ran on the dirt, he was beaten by more than 40 lengths. No thanks.

How to watch the Florida Derby

Florida Derby Race Information
What Florida Derby (Grade 1)
Location Gulfstream Park
Time Saturday, April 2 — 6:38pm Eastern time
How to Watch TVG
Purse $1,000,000

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Brian Zipse

Expert on Horse Racing

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

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