Dark Horse for the 2018 Florida Derby?

Press Release

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – MV Magnier, Michael Tabor, Derrick Smith, John Oxley and Markus Jooste’s Mississippi put himself into consideration for the $1 million Xpressbet.com Florida Derby (G1) March 31 at Gulfstream Park with a sharp half-mile work early Sunday morning.

Gulfstream Park horse toteGoing out at 6:30 a.m. in company with maiden-winning stablemate Shanghai Noon, Mississippi covered four furlongs in 49.45 seconds at Palm Meadows, Gulfstream’s satellite training facility in Palm Beach County. The time ranked fourth of 36 horses at the distance.

“I couldn’t have been more pleased,” trainer Mark Casse said. “He finished up really nice and galloped out strong. He’s ready. If he has a good week this week we’re going to run him in the Florida Derby.”

Purchased for $700,000 out of Fasig-Tipton’s Florida Selected 2-year-olds in training sale last spring at Gulfstream Park, Mississippi broke his maiden going one mile last fall in his second and final start at 2.

This year, the Pioneerof the Nile colt was beaten three-quarters of a length by Noble Indy Jan. 11 and was a neck behind Storm Runner Feb. 4 in 1 1/16-mile optional claiming allowance races at Gulfstream. Noble Indy was a hard-fought winner of the Louisiana Derby (G2) March 24 while Storm Runner is also being pointed to the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby.

“I think he’s a horse that just keeps getting better and better. Of course, [Noble Indy] winning the Louisiana Derby didn’t hurt his feelings any. He ran a nice second to him,” Casse said. “He’s by Pioneerof the Nile so he’s going to get better and better. Now, we just need a good post position.”  [He drew post 9]

Mississippi has worked four times since his last start, including five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.75 March 19 at Palm Meadows.

“One of the reasons we haven’t run him, we gave him some time because I thought I ran him back maybe a little too quick in his last allowance race. Then I thought he went through a little bit of a lull,” Casse said. “He wasn’t training as well, but his last two works have been extremely good so that’s why we’re going to take a shot.”

The 67th running of the Florida Derby anchors a spectacular program that includes seven stakes, five graded, worth $2.3 million in purses. The field is expected to include Holy Bull (G2) winner Audible, Fountain of Youth (G2) winner Promises Fulfilled, Remsen (G2) and With Anticipation (G3) winner Catholic Boy, Swale (G3) Strike Power, Dania Beach (G3) winner Speed Franco, Fire When Ready, Millionaire Runner, Storm Runner and Tip Sheet.

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About Editor

Rich Nilsen is a 19-time qualifier to the National Horseplayers Championship (NHC), an event he has cashed in four times. He was the first player to finish in the top 10 of the NHC twice. A former executive with Brisnet.com and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of AGameofSkill.com, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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