One of the major prep races for the Kentucky Derby, the Florida Derby is held in late March/early April at the Gulfstream Park race track in Hallendale Beach, Florida which is part of the Miami metro area. It is a Grade 1 race for three year olds run over a distance of 1 1/8 mile for a purse of $1 million. The Florida Derby has been held every year since 1952.


This race is actually the second incarnation of the 'Florida Derby'--between 1926 and 1937 the Flamingo Stakes at the now defunct Hialeah Race Track was known as the 'Florida Derby'. There was also a one shot race at Tampa Downs in 1926. The Kentucky Derby prep races have taken on added significance in the past couple of years due to a new qualification format. The Florida Derby has been one of the most important prep races for the Kentucky Derby for at least half a century along with the Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby. There's a long list of horses that have won the Florida Derby and continued on to victory in the 'Run for the Roses'. 13 Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby including Orb in 1913. Overall, 19 horses that placed in the top three in the Florida Derby have earned victory in the Kentucky Derby.


Nyquist Sizzles In Winning The Florida Derby&h=223&w=348&zc=1

Added on April 2, 2016 , in Florida Derby Betting

Nyquist Sizzles In Winning The Florida Derby

Doug O’Neill’s Nyquist has won Saturday’s Florida Derby in sizzling fashion, beating second place Majesto by 3 ...

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31.03.2016 , by Jim

Florida Derby Generating A Ton Of Excitement

There’s something of a ‘gentleman’s agreement’ in horse racing as it relates to the Kentucky Derby prep ...

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30.03.2016 , by Jim

Mohaymen Opens As Florida Derby Favorite

Although a field of ten three year olds will take the gate in Saturday’s $1 Million Grade 1 Florida Derby it is for all intents ...

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29.03.2016 , by Jim

Mohaymen Set For Florida Derby

Mohaymen has been the presumptive Kentucky Derby favorite for most of the year but now is in something of a strange position–he’s ...

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Betting the Florida Derby is made somewhat easier due to its significance—just getting into the race is usually an accomplishment which means that most of the horses entered are usually of a high competitive class. One problem in handicapping Florida Derby bets is the fact that most of the entries don't have much formal racing experience. Given the trend toward racing horses less in their two year old campaign and in the early part of their three year old career that makes races like the Florida Derby the first serious test for many entries. The majority will be experienced on the track at Gulfstream which negates any advantage of that sort.


The 2014 Florida Derby was won by Constitution who put himself in a position to make history in the Kentucky Derby. He did not race at all as a two year old which is a growing trend in the sport of horse racing but historically is highly unusual. There's only been one Kentucky Derby winner who did not race as a two year old-- Apollo turned the feat in 1882. Apollo is the only horse ever to win without racing as a two year old and it’s been 132 years since. It's only a matter of time, however, that this record is broken due to the changes in the horse racing industry. The prevailing wisdom among trainers and owners is that 'less is more' when it comes to competitive preparation for young races horses. They're taking fewer races earlier in the their career when their just learning their craft and growing into their bodies and more as mature race horses. The current qualification process for the Kentucky Derby—which is based on a system of points earned in prep races instead of lifetime earnings in graded stakes races—also helps facilitate a lighter racing schedule early in a horse's racing career.


It's not just the horse owners and bettors that have something at stake in the Florida Derby—the top jockeys in the sport are also trying to 'land on a Kentucky Derby winner' and the best way to do that is become the preferred rider of a top prospect early in his career. Jockeys will also face decisions about which horses to 'commit' to but have other considerations in addition to the qualitative abilities of their prospective mounts. They'll also consider their riding style, their schedule and in particular their relationship with and loyalty to certain owners and trainers. Taking a less desirable assignment for a top trainer like Bob Baffert or Todd Pletcher can be a great long term move for a jockey even if it puts him on an underwhelming contender in the short term.