AGOS Horses to Watch: Florida Derby and Blue Grass Stakes

White Abarrio, recently recovered from a fever and having skipped the Fountain of Youth, came into the Florida Derby and delivered a knock-out performance.  The Saffie Joseph runner was four wide around most of the first turn and three wide into the stretch.  Charge It re-rallied after struggling on the turn.  He took dirt for the first time in his race and finished very well despite been very green in the lane.  He even switched back to his wrong lead about 100 yards from wire but kept on coming.  Simplification pressed the pace, took over briefly heading into the far turn and them ran gamely in the lane to easily hold third.  Steal Sunshine was far, far back and closed well as no-threat but galloped out huge past the wire.

California’s top jock, Flavien Prat, who recently moved his tack east took the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes aboard Zandon.  The colt was near the rear and in some traffic at the 3/8th pole but got clear running from there and finished powerfully in the final furlong.  Drew off late in front of the Keeneland grandstand.  Smile Happy was five wide around the first turn, made a nice move to the front at the top of the lane but could not hold off the fresh closer, while well clear of third.  Fenwick was well beaten in fifth but had a brutal trip, with trouble early and getting bounced around badly at the top of the stretch.  Emmanuel was clear on the early lead and had no excuse.  Commandperformance remains a maiden.

Of these two major Kentucky Derby preps, the Florida Derby appeared to be the much stronger, deeper field than the Blue Grass.

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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 and a member of the NHC Players’ Committee, Rich is a graduate of the University of Louisville Equine Business Program and is founder of, a site devoted to horse racing education and promotion.

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