For all the Florida-based three year olds, it's come down to today's Grade 1 Florida Derby featuring the deepest field of talented sophomores assembled this year. Indeed, only eight were entered and that's because the Big Four chased some of them out of town.

I'm still clinging to the notion that, of the top four contenders, Cairo Prince is the "best horse." But before I know that for sure, I need to see him win one more against this type of competition--off an eight week layup. The competition was earning its laurels, not resting on them.

We're taking General A Rod because the last time he raced, he was meeting a bulldog of a speed horse on a speed-favoring surface, that's why Javier Castellano put him in the game so early. Castellano rides the undefeated Constitution, the summize being that's he's riding for the trainer as much as he chose to ride the horse, having previously committed.

Joel Rosario is more than an able substitute, just as Johnny Velazquez need not play second fiddle to anymore and he takes the mount on Wildcat Red. The speed of the speed, the rail, Johnny and Gulfstream Park--they are going to take plenty of beating.

But we like the way Michael Maker has handled 'A Rod", today very much looking like a coming out party. And of the big four, we're of the opinion that his pedigree is most likely to win out at today's 9 furlongs and beyond.

Racing fans such as myself need not make a wager to enjoy this one, but I will be betting just the same--with both hands.

We're taking the opportunity provided by the Florida Derby to debut an example of what The Pricci Data Bank might look like when it's published sometime in the near future. In addition to an Energy Distribution projection, a performance figure that each horse in a race could earn--the higher the figure, the better--a letter grade that reflects variables to include a race shape-post position summary, jockey and trainer profile, workout analysis, and a surface-distance suitability report.


See Saturday's Feature Race Analysis for the Data Bank projections and letter grades and the usual betting strategy for the centerpiece of the Gulfstream championship meet