Shanghai Bobby: Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner breaks from the railPICTURE: EquiSport Photos/Jessie Holmes
Kentucky hopes on line in Florida Derby
Preview: USA, Saturday 10.19pm GMT
Gulfstream Park: Florida Derby (Grade 1) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo
THREE of the top five in ante-post betting for the Kentucky Derby line up for the Florida Derby, including Breeders' Cup winner Shanghai Bobby and Itsmyluckyday, the horse who beat the juvenile champion on his seasonal debut.
Recent winners of the $1 million contest, the first of this year's Grade 1 preps for Churchill Downs, have included subsequent Kentucky winners Monarchos, Barbaro and Big Brown.
Shanghai Bobby (Todd Pletcher/Rosie Napravnik) breaks from the inner against nine rivals, and his trainer admitted to concerns about the post position as the colt bids to avenge his shock defeat by Itsmyluckyday in the Grade 3 Holy Bull in January.
"It's not what we would have preferred," Pletcher said. "It limits our options but it's better than being far outside."
There are also stamina doubts about Shanghai Bobby, who could face pressure on the front end from the speedy Merit Man. On the plus side, he was unbeaten in five starts as a two-year-old before going down by two lengths to Itsmyluckyday (Eddie Plesa/Elvis Trujillo), who also scored a wide-margin win in lesser company at this track on New Year's Day.
Another major fancy is Orb (Shug McGaughey/John Velazquez), who circled the field to complete a hat-trick when landing the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth here last month.
"He doesn't necessarily have to win Saturday to go to the Derby," said Shug McGaughey. "But he has to run the right kind of race. If he doesn't, we won't go. I want the horse to take me there."
Also on Saturday
Gulfstream Park: Gulfstream Oaks (Grade 2) 1m1f, dirt, 3yo fillies (7.56pm GMT)
A rematch between Grade 1 winner Dreaming Of Julia (Todd Pletcher/John Velazquez) and Live Lively (Mark Hennig/Rajiv Maragh), who led her all the way when the pair met last month at this venue.