The Florida Derby 2024

Eleven three-year-olds are scheduled to go in the Grade 1 mile and an eighth Florida Derby. The race is not only an important 100-point Derby prep but the staple of the Gulfstream Park Championship meet. It is only fitting South Florida winter based two-year-old champion Fierceness is the headliner. He should go off a well back significant favorite in the wagering, but he is far from a cinch in my view. Hades who also returns in this spot beat him on the square last out in the Holy Bull. We’ll go through the field and see how things shake out.


Frankie’s Empire breaks from the rail off a decent showing in the Fountain of Youth. That race was decimated by scratches, and it probably looks better on paper than it actually was. No thank you for me.


Hades is three for three with a nice win in the Holy Bull where he turned back Fierceness on the square. He set a slow pace that day and I must believe they will be going harder and faster on Saturday likely with more pressure. He will have to prove it to me.


Bail Us Out ran just okay in his lone dirt start before breaking his maiden over the Tapeta. It is Pletcher and Irad for Repole so you can’t be shocked if he has more to offer but I will have to see it to believe it.


Grand Mo the First is improving and I think he gets the right sort of trip in here. He is well bred, comes off the Tampa strip that gets horses fit and I view him as a serious player with a real chance. The 15-1 morning line only makes him more attractive should it hold. Jaramillo could be sitting on a live one to win the biggest race of his career to date.


Real Macho should sit a good trip the way I see it but he looks a cut below a few in here to me.


Le Dom Bro appears to like this track and is another who should sit a good trip if you like him. I don’t believe he is good enough to win here.


Catalytic is interesting coming out of two sprints. Leparoux rides and he is not a rider who likes to gun, and I feel that would be this colt’s best chance. He is intriguing out of the sprints and stretching out and Saffie can be deadly, but I will have to say prove it to him also.


Seminole Chief managed to land Joel Rosario, but he looks like he will need more than that to get home first here.


Conquest Warrior looks very good to me. He will get the pace he needs to rally into, he likes the track at two for two, he has handled less than ideal trips already and has won at this distance. If he can run as good off Lasix as he has been running on it, I think he will be tough to beat. I think he will take money right into Fierceness and end up the second choice. I’ll land here.


Fierceness is obviously capable on his best. There are questions however and more than a few. I am not sure I want an odds-on horse with questions. He has not been consistent and has failed when faced with any adversity. The problem is it appears he will get a dream stalk and pounce trip like what he got in the Breeders’ Cup. That said has he progressed at three, can he win a fight, can he get past the speed and hold off Shug’s horse late? We’ll find out and even if he wins, he will be hard for me to trust going forward as things look perfect for him Saturday. I’ll gamble Conquest Warrior can run him down.


Iris’s Dream would be a big surprise.


Those are my thoughts on this renewal of the Florida Derby. Enjoy the races! 

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Jon Stettin

Since childhood, Jon has always had a deep love and respect for the Sport of Kings. His years of experience have earned him a well respected spot in the industry as a handicapper. He now is a frequent contributor to AmWager as well as writing for his own site.

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