Horse Racing

2024 Florida Derby Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

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numberFire Racing
2024 Florida Derby Betting Odds and Contenders Preview

The final race in the Gulfstream Park spur of the Kentucky Derby trail happens on Saturday, March 30: the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby. Not only is a seven-figure prize at stake, but also bids to the Kentucky Derby: it offers 100-50-25-15-10 Road to the Kentucky Derby points to its top five finishers, meaning the winner is practically guaranteed a trip to Churchill Downs, and the second-place finisher likely seals up a trip as well. Even other finishers are in a good place if they have run well in other Road to the Kentucky Derby races.

The race drew a competitive field of 11, including champion juvenile Fierceness, Holy Bull (G3) winner Hades, and up-and-comer Conquest Warrior. Fierceness has been named the 8-5 morning-line favorite for the race, though he has to bounce back from a third-place effort behind Hades in the Holy Bull last out.

The Gulfstream Park series of Road to the Kentucky Derby races has a strong history of getting live horses to Churchill Downs. In total, 24 horses who have run in the Florida Derby have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, including 15 Florida Derby winners. Horses like Spectacular Bid, Thunder Gulch, and Big Brown have all parlayed Florida Derby wins into Triple Crown race success.

Two Florida Derby winners have won the Kentucky Derby in ten years: Nyquist (2016), and Always Dreaming (2017). 2023 Florida Derby winner Forte was the morning-line favorite in the Kentucky Derby, but was scratched on the first Saturday in May. Mage, who was second in the Florida Derby, went on to win the Kentucky Derby!

Florida Derby 2024 Information

  • Race Date: Saturday, March 30, 2024
  • Track: Gulfstream Park
  • Post Time: 6:42 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time
  • Distance: 1 1/8 miles
  • Age/Sex: three-year-olds
  • Where to Watch: FanDuel TV
  • Where to Bet: and FanDuel Racing

Florida Derby Odds

This is the full field for the 2024 Florida Derby, including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning-line odds.

1Frankie’s EmpireMichael YatesMiguel Vasquez12-1
2HadesJoseph OrsenoPaco Lopez7-2
3Bail Us OutTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz, Jr.15-1
4Grand Mo the FirstVictor Barboza, Jr.Emisael Jaramillo15-1
5Real MachoRohan CrichtonJavier Castellano20-1
6Le Dom BroEniel CorderoEdwin Gonzalez15-1
7CatalyticSaffie Joseph, Jr.Julien Leparoux20-1
View Full Table

Florida Derby Prep Results

Six of the eleven entrants come out of Road to the Kentucky Derby races somewhere in Florida. Though Fountain of Youth winner Dornoch does not return for the Florida Derby, the next three horses across the wire come back in hopes to do better: Le Dom Bro, Frankie’s Empire, and Real Macho. A pair of runners from an earlier Kentucky Derby prep at Gulfstream, the Holy Bull, also return for this race: winner Hades and third-place Fierceness. Grand Mo the First returns to Gulfstream after a third-place effort in the Tampa Bay Derby, missing only by a neck.

The rest of the field comes out of non-stakes races. Three come out of allowance company, led by morning-line second choice Conquest Warrior, who impressed in a first-level allowance over the same course and distance as the Florida Derby on March 1. Seminole Chief comes out of a two-turn allowance win on the Gulfstream Tapeta on March 9, while Catalytic finished second in a six-furlong allowance dirt sprint at Tampa on March 8.

Two others step onto the Road to the Kentucky Derby off of maiden wins. Bail Us Out won a maiden special weight at two turns on the Tapeta at Gulfstream on February 3. Iris’s Dream comes out of a maiden-optional claiming win at 1 1/16 miles on the Gulfstream lawn on February 29; as a Florida-bred, Iris’s Dream was not up for the tag.

Florida Derby Contenders

These are the runners in the 2024 Florida Derby, organized by post position:

Frankie’s Empire: A proven sprinter, he won the Swale two starts back. He tracked the pace and kept going well enough to finish and even third in the Fountain of Youth, only two lengths beaten by Dornoch. The extra distance is a question, as is the inside post in a large field, but if he can run back to his last over this longer Kentucky Derby prep, he may find the gimmicks again.

Hades: Undefeated in three starts, he proved his mettle on the Road to the Kentucky Derby by winning the Holy Bull (G3). In that race he beat Domestic Product, who came back to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), as well as juvenile champion Fierceness. He beat good horses last out and has shown he can battle on the pace and keep running late, meaning he has a good chance to shine again in this race.

Bail Us Out: The new face from the Todd Pletcher barn, he stretched out to two turns for the first time and won a maiden race in stalk-and-pounce fashion last out. The good news is, big-race jockey Irad Ortiz is signed on to ride and Pletcher can do well with last-out maiden winners. He is also bred well for this distance. However, the step up from maidens to the Kentucky Derby trail is big, and his one dirt try left much to be desired.

Grand Mo the First: He was no match for Frankie’s Empire in the Swale two back, but he stretched out beautifully to two turns in the Tampa Bay Derby and missed by only a neck to two very good horses. Speed figures suggest he needs to take a step forward, but he has pedigree on both sides to stretch out and his lower-profile connections suggest he will be an appealing price.

Real Macho: An upset winner of a one-mile allowance at Gulfstream two starts back, he weakened late in the Fountain of Youth to finish a well-beaten fourth. On paper, his pedigree is replete with distance influences. However, either he needs more time to develop that, or in practice, he may be better at one turns, as both of his two-turn efforts have been disappointing.

Le Dom Bro: Dismissed at 27-1 in the Fountain of Youth, he ran his best race yet to finish second behind Dornoch that day. He has speed, he can battle on the front end and keep going, and he is well-proven over the Gulfstream dirt. He is liable to get outgunned to the lead in this spot, but he is in good form and has done well enough, even when he hasn’t made the top to suggest that he could invade exotics again.

Catalytic: It’s hard to know what to expect from this one: he has only raced twice, he has never faced stakes foes, and he has never gone two turns. However, he has tactical speed; he broke his maiden on the Gulfstream dirt, he has some two-turn pedigree, and trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. does well with both first-time routers and horses coming second off the lay. A Kentucky Derby prep will be tough, but he isn’t without upside.

Seminole Chief: His last-out win came on the Tapeta, though his win in a Florida-bred stakes last year shows he has form over this dirt footing, too. It is hard to know what to expect at this class level, since his only other try in a Kentucky Derby prep came over slop. Expect him to be on or near the lead; he’ll need a career-best, especially since there are some more class-proven foes who also have speed.

Conquest Warrior: A buzz horse since selling for $1 million as a yearling, he graduated second-out at a mile at Gulfstream and looked even better when stretching out to 1 ⅛ for a sharp allowance win on March 1. This is his first try on the Kentucky Derby trail, and he will need to step up from a speed figure perspective. But, he is proven over course and distance, and he has shown that he can close at Gulfstream, even if the pace in front of him turns out pedestrian.

Fierceness: The champion juvenile of last year, he needs to improve to remain a top name on the Kentucky Derby trail. However, he has an excuse: he had a nasty start in the Holy Bull and ended up chasing on for third behind Hades and Domestic Product. He has upside in his second start of the year for high-percentage trainer Todd Pletcher. The wide gate may not be optimal, but if he gets a cleaner start he is fast enough to be close to the pace and involved the entire way.

Iris’s Dream: He is in a tough spot in his first start against winners. The good news is, he graduated on the stretch out to two turns for the first time, and he has some dirt breeding. But, his victory came on a switch to the lawn, and came in maiden optional claiming company, meaning protected Florida-breds as well as open-company claimers. Especially from a parking lot post, the odds are stacked against him on his Kentucky Derby trail debut.

Florida Derby Past Winners Past Performances

The strongest trend in recent Florida Derby winners is that they won their most recent race. Of the last ten Florida Derby winners, all ten were last-out winners. The second-strongest trend is that they made their most recent start at Gulfstream: nine of the last ten winners raced in Hallandale Beach last out. The only aberration is Nyquist (2016), who won the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita before raiding Florida.

Another strong trend is that they were trained by Todd Pletcher, good news for both morning-line favorite Fierceness and Bail Us Out. Six of the last ten winners came from the Pletcher barn. Forte (2023) came out of a win in the Fountain of Youth, Audible (2018) came out of a victory in the Holy Bull, and Materiality (2015) came out of a win in the Islamorada, a minor stakes at Gulfstream that year. Three other Pletcher winners came out of non-stakes wins: Known Agenda (2021) came out of an allowance win though he had graded experience in the past, while Constitution (2014) and Always Dreaming (2017) came out of allowance wins and made their stakes debuts in the Florida Derby.

Four of them came out of points-race wins at Gulfstream: Forte won the Fountain of Youth, while Tiz the Law (2020) and White Abarrio (2022) join Audible as winners who came out of Holy Bull scores.

The other recent winner is Maximum Security (2019), who came into his stakes debut in the Florida Derby off of a starter-optional claiming romp at Gulfstream.

Florida Derby Undercard

The Florida Derby is the 14th and final race on Gulfstream’s flagship Saturday card. The card includes ten stakes events for a wide range of divisions. In addition to the Kentucky Derby prep, the card also features the $250,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), a 100-point race on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Other stakes races include the $200,000 Pan American (G3) for open long-distance turf horses, the $150,000 Orchid (G3) for filly and mare long-distance turf runners, the $150,000 Ghostzapper (G3) for older dirt routers, the $125,000 Cutler Bay for sophomore middle-distance turf horses, the $125,000 Sir Shackleton for older sprinters, the $150,000 Sand Springs for older middle-distance turf fillies and mares, and $125,000 Sanibel Island for sophomore middle-distance grass fillies, and the $150,000 Appleton for older turf milers.

With top-class horse racing and big fields all day, including Triple Crown preps like the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the UAE Derby at Meydan, it’s an excellent day to stay tuned to FanDuel TV and bet with FanDuel and TVG!

Gulfstream Park

Gulfstream Park is the historic racetrack that hosts the Florida Derby each year. It is the only American racetrack that offers all three racing surfaces: conventional dirt, turf, and a synthetic Tapeta surface. The outer track is a dirt course measuring one and one-eighth miles around, complete with a chute that allows for classic one-turn dirt mile races. The next track inward is a one-mile and seventy-yard Tapeta track that opened in 2021. The inner course is a seven-furlong turf track.

Gulfstream Park has hosted many major races over the years, including the Breeders’ Cup in 1989, 1992, and 1999. In 2017, the race ran the rich Pegasus World Cup for the first time, which was at one time the world’s richest horse race. But the Florida Derby, run along the road to the Kentucky Derby, remains Gulfstream Park’s most established and famous race.

Florida Derby FAQ

Q: When is the Florida Derby?

A: The 2024 Florida Derby will be run on Saturday, April 1, at 6:42 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The race is the fourteenth and final on Saturday’s Gulfstream card.

Q: Where is the Florida Derby?

A: It takes place at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida.

Q: Which trainer has the most wins in the Florida Derby?

A: Todd Pletcher has a dominant seven wins in the Florida Derby, including six in the last ten years. He has two more runners in 2024: Fierceness and Bail Us Out.

Q: Who is the favorite for the 2024 Florida Derby?

A: At 8-5, Fierceness is the morning-line favorite for the 2024 Florida Derby. Given his two-year-old form and his tough trip in the Fountain of Youth, he is likely going to hold favoritism, though it could be close with up-and-coming morning-line second-choice Conquest Warrior (3-1), who takes his first steps onto the Kentucky Derby trail.

Q: Who is the best Florida Derby jockey?

A: Jockey John Velazquez has won this race five times, most recently with 2018 winner Audible. Velazquez takes the call on morning-line favorite Fierceness.

Q: Who won the 2023 Florida Derby?

A: Forte won the 2023 Florida Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz, Jr. Pletcher and Ortiz reunite behind Bail Us Out in 2024, and Pletcher also has Fierceness with John Velazquez.

This year’s Kentucky Derby Prep Races have already been filled with excitement and anticipation as horses compete for a coveted spot in the 150th Kentucky Derby. Now, FanDuel customers can join the action with this No Sweat Bet Up to $10! See the promotions page for more information.

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