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.

Trackus: How Nyquist Defeated Mohaymen in the Florida Derby

So how did Kentucky Derby favorite Nyquist defeat Mohaymen in the 2016 Florida Derby?  Is there more to just he ran faster?   Hear Jeff Nehf explain how Trackus works and how it can help answer those questions about this pivotal final KY Derby prep.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #28 – Who Can Win the KY Derby?

2013 KY Derby contender Verrazanoby Art Parker

In the last several decades over 80% of the Derby winners finished either first or second in one of the following major prep races: Spiral Stakes, Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby and the Blue Grass Stakes.

On occasion there will be exceptions to this rule but it is hard to ignore the Derby results these races have posted.

There are a couple of reasons for these races being so important to the Derby. First, most of these races serve as the last “big prep” before the Derby and almost all serious contenders will run in one of these, plus the purses of these races are very appealing. Secondly, the cream of the crop shows up at these races, which are generally held four to five weeks before the Derby making these races the best indicator of current form.

It’s unlikely the winner on the first Saturday in May will exit a race other than one these major preps.