HALLANDALE BEACH, FL — We think Tiz the Law could be on his way to true greatness, and we don’t toss around the ‘G’ word lightly. If our best assessment has any validity, it must begin Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
The 69th Florida Derby is a tough, very competitive race with, to our count, seven viable contenders. Tiz the Law is nicely drawn and contested-pace dynamics favor his style. On paper at least, there will be no excuses.
Here, then, a thumbnail sketch of the entire field, listed in post position order with early line odds:
1-AS SEEN ON TV 12-1 PACO LOPEZ: His third in the Fountain of Youth is better than it appears. He broke out of hand, was checked, recovered, showed rated speed between horses almost all the way, battling very gamely to save show. Has strong workline since; best value on early line.
2-SHIVAREE 30-1 EMISAEL JARAMILLO: Not sure what he’s doing in here or if he even belongs. Coming from five straight sprints means he’s a speed factor. So why the blinkers off, which suggests rating? I’m confused.
3-DISC JOCKEY 20-1 TYLER GAFFALIONE: Has an excellent Thoro-Graph pattern and has super-owner, super-trainer connections. A great claim for $35,000, attracts Tyler and has a favorable draw, but a very tough spot for two-turn debut.
4-SOROS 30-1 EDGAR PRADO: Cross-entered in allowance race today, the most probable–and wiser–option for making season’s debut.
5-GOUVERNEUR MORRIS 8-1 JOHN VELAZQUEZ: Counter-intuitively, he appears heavy headed yet he’s athletic. Tampa Bay prep used successful by Todd, seeking his sixth Florida Derby victory, his prep was 2/100’s off the track record. Likely mid-pack runner here would benefit greatly from a contested pace.
6-AJAAWEED 20-1 LUIS SAEZ: Slower figures–though his Remsen was competitive–and he’s a deep closer in a big field; never easy, especially at Gulfstream. Added ground helps and he attracts leading rider Luis Saez. Sentimental choice as this is Kiaran’s Grade 1 stakes swansong. Would complete my superfecta–or trifecta, given complete pace meltdown.
7-TIZ THE LAW 6-5 MANNY FRANCO: Has the turn of foot of a turf horse, electric when he turns it on. A sharp breaker, overcomes trouble but had multiple excuses in only loss. Ran fastest prep in 2020 thus far. Can be too keen, dragging rider into contention too early and he still shows greenness, bearing in after passing stretch rivals. His best effort wins with authority.
8-MY FIRST GRAMMY 50-1 HECTOR BERRIOS: Over/Under is 100-1 ante post.
9-INDEPENDENCE HALL 9-2 JOEL ROSARIO: Upon further review, first defeat in two-turn debut better than it looks: Too fresh, Jose Ortiz had him bent in half chasing dueling leaders, and had to go from pull to drive mid-turn as Solo Volante was under full head of steam. Hung with winner until near sixteenth pole before tiring, galloping out past wire as if short of top condition. Ready to peak. Reunites with Rosario, who broke colt’s maiden on debut.
10-CANDY TYCOON 20-1 JAVIER CASTELLANO: At posting, do not know who will sub for Javier. Late developing Toddster was covered up saving ground throughout Fountain of Youth, angling widest and had clear run down the middle behind a blowout winner. He’s more tactical than that and will like added ground. Appears just this side of prime time at the moment.
11-SASSY BUT SMART 50-1 JOE BRAVO …And overmatched.
12-ETE INDIEN 4-1 FLORENT GEROUX: Draw killed him but then he won Fountain of Youth from extreme outside #10, earning third straight triple-figure BRIS rating. A speed horse who can rate, he possesses gears. Patrick Biancone rejuvenated and love his signature turf training–especially 7/8s in 1:23 1/5–and his dirt blowout coming into this. Flo is on a complete roll and the colt has all the pedigree you’d want. Is he really as good as his last race? Find out today.
AE: ROGUE ELEMENT: At posting, it is unknown whether or not trainer Dale Romans would accept the wide-draw assignment.
Tomorrow: Final thoughts on how to best play the race, a tremendous contest.
Worth Repeating: Forty-four Florida Derby starters have won 59 Triple Crown races: Those 44 have won the Kentucky Derby 24 times; the Preakness on 19 occasions and 16 renewals of the Belmont Stakes.