Horse Racing Picks & 2020 Florida Derby Exotics & Power Rankings: The Longshot Horses to Use in Exactas, Trifectas

Horse Racing Picks & 2020 Florida Derby Exotics & Power Rankings: The Longshot Horses to Use in Exactas, Trifectas article feature image

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  • Sean Zerillo looks at the latest odds for the 2020 Florida Derby to find horse racing picks with value, including the longshot horses to use in exactas and trifectas.
  • Be sure to gets your bets in prior to the Florida Derby starting at 6:36 p.m. ET.

The 69th running of the Florida Derby will go to post at 6:36 p.m. ET on Saturday as Race 14 at Gulfstream Park, with 170 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on the line — distributed 100-40-20-10 from first through fourth place.

It’s a significant prep race, with 24 past Kentucky Derby winners, including 15 horses, and six since 2001, who have pulled the Florida Derby-Kentucky Derby double. Mind you, those numbers would read 26, 16, and seven had Maximum Security avoided disqualification at Churchill Downs last May.

The 2020 Florida Derby features a full field of 12 horses and arguably four of the top 10 current Kentucky Derby prospects listed as the top four choices on the morning line, including three sons from the first crop of Constitution – the aptly named No. 5 Gouverneur Morris (8-1)No. 7 Tiz the Law (6-5), and No. 9 Independence Hall (9-2). 

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Based upon those odds, those three would be a combined 1/3 favorite on the tote board (-300 moneyline; implied 75%) against the remainder of the field, which otherwise includes the front-running No. 12 Ete Indien (4-1).

Mostly, oddsmakers believe that one of those four horses have a 95% chance of winning this race.

And while I don’t necessarily disagree, I do think that some price horses could slip into the trifecta or superfecta.

2020 Florida Derby Odds and Top Speed Figures

The Pace Scenario

In any race, it’s essential to see where horses will stack up in terms of the early running – particularly in larger fields.

TimeFormUS does a great job of that, and they expect a fast pace in this race.

The No. 12 Ete Indien will be on the lead if he can get to the front from the outside. He was able to get that trip in his last start in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, winning gate to wire.

He’s the No. 11 horse below, who clears off the entire field at the front and all but wins the Fountain of Youth (G-2) before the first turn:

Saturday will be another step up in class, however, and he should see more pressure this time around.

Horses I’m Tossing Out

No. 2 Shivaree (30-1) – Talented, stakes-winning sprinter is stretching out three furlongs here. Taking the blinkers off should help him to relax early, but this one should fade in the stretch. Career-high Beyer (88), which came four starts back, looks like the outlier amongst his past five races (76, 79, 79, 78).

No. 8 My First Grammy (50-1) –  Improving maiden will inject some early pressure into this race but will face much better speed types in this spot while going around two turns for the first time.

No. 11 Sassy But Smart (50-1) – Victimized worst by the post draw. Has improved while stretching out on the turf and might relish this distance, but has only competed when running on or near the lead and should get shuffled to midpack at best with all of the speed to his inside and the leading speed horse cutting over from post 12.

Horses for Trifectas and Superfectas

No. 1 As Seen On TV (12-1) – I liked this horse going into the Fountain of Youth, but he was mostly backing up in the stretch of that race before finishing in a photo for third. And I don’t know if he’ll want the extra sixteenth of a mile in Saturday’s Derby – despite his breeding suggesting otherwise. Typically forwardly placed, As Seen on TV has never finished worse than third and should be able to save ground from his inside post – but third seems like his ceiling again as he takes yet another step up in class.

No. 6 Ajaweed (20-1) – Wants to run all day, but was a disappointing third last time while finishing 13 lengths behind No. 9 Independence Hall in the Sam F. Davis (G-3). However, that was his first start off a layoff, and if this horse improves and runs back to his Remsen (G-2), he could indeed find his way in the money. But he’s a bit of a clunker, as opposed to a closer, and shouldn’t take more than a minor award.

No. 12 Ete Indien (4-1) – Dominated the Fountain of Youth stakes, winning by 8.5 lengths despite drifting in the stretch run. Ete Indien ran his last sixteenth in 6.58 seconds, compared to 6.72 seconds in his loss to No. 7 Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull – so he improved. And he’s shown before that he doesn’t need the lead to win, closing from ninth to win in his career debut. But Florent Geroux will try to get this horse to the front from the outside post again, as he did in that Fountain of Youth, and if this field lets him get a breather, he can repeat that performance. I just don’t think that he’ll survive what could be a hypersonic pace with all of these speed horses, however, while overcoming multiple stretch bids from the best competition that he’s ever faced. I’m using him on my tickets, but he’s my fourth option amongst the win contenders.

No. 13 Rogue Element (50-1) – Drew into the field after the No. 4 Soros ran an allowance race on Friday  – which will only add more speed into this race. The son of Honor Code nearly broke his maiden last time out – but needs to make a significant improvement over that career-best 76 Beyer figure. However, he should be a monster price on the tote board if he makes the field, and that’s typically when trainer Dale Romans slips a longshot into the exotics.

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Longshots I’m Bullish On

No. 3 Disc Jockey (20-1) – This developing son of Bodemeister has the pedigree to win – as a half-brother to 2017 Florida Derby winner Always Dreaming and grandson of 2003 winner Empire Maker – and he gets the right pace setup in here as a mid-pack closer. But he’ll also get a new jockey in Tyler Gaffalione while going around two turns for the first time – leaving some question marks about his possible running style.

No. 10 Candy Tycoon (20-1) –  Another price horse getting a rider switch after Javier Castellano tested positive for Coronavirus, a result of upgraded safety precautions for the jockey’s room. Candy Tycoon came running late after Ete Indien set the pace in the Fountain of Youth and appears to be improving in two-turn races – while also showing that he can win on the front end or rally from off of the lead.

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Win Contenders and Exacta Box Picks

No. 5 Gouverneur Morris (8-1) – Was pointed for the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, which is now canceled, so he was entered here after reportedly working better than ever. Gouverneur Morris should appreciate the added distance after running just over a mile in his first race off a layoff in Tampa, where his rider asked him to stay closer to the pace than he usually likes – but he still won anyway. He does need to get faster, and this is a step up in competition. Still, he also has the dream connections – with Trainer Todd Pletcher who has won the Florida Derby five times, including four of the past five that he’s entered – and jockey John Velazquez, who has won five of eight Florida Derby starts since 2009 while hitting the board in each. Pletcher also sends out the No. 10 Candy Tycoon, but the Gouv looks like his highest upside runner in some time. I would bet him to win at 6-1 or better.

No. 7 Tiz the Law (6-5) – Undefeated on fast tracks, and got the jump early on Ete Indien in the Holy Bull where he showed that he was the better horse, swinging four wide from the rail at the turn and still winning easily. That race was further flattered when Ete Indien destroyed the competition in the Fountain of Youth. Tiz the Law missed some training after blowing a shoe, but he’s trained fine since then. Perhaps his competition has caught up to him, but he remains the horse to beat and is a must-use in both single and multi-race exotics.

No. 9 Independence Hall (9-2) – On a normal stakes day, with a full crowd in attendance, I wouldn’t bet on this horse to win. He typically gets riled up in the paddock and wastes a lot of energy. But in a quieter setting, on a Gulfstream surface that he’s reportedly been training over extremely well, this horse is a major contender. Independence Hall chased a hot pace in his last start, lost a shoe and had other equipment issues, and still finished second around a bunch of closers – so his speed was the only speed that held up. In this third start off of a layoff, if he can get back to his Nashua Stakes (G-3) from last November, where he won by a dozen lengths, he’ll find his way into a top-two spot. There’s a chance that he has regressed as a three-year-old and prefers one-turn races, but the speed cannot be ignored.


Picks: 5 over 7, 9, 12

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Example Wagers

Note: I’m not placing all of these wagers, they merely present different structural options for playing the race. Stay tuned on Twitter for my final tickets for Florida Derby day.

The product of sorting through those horses? We can now group horses together, and make up some exotic tickets.

Notice how I’m generally keying on the No. 5 Gouverneur Morris to finish in the money while pairing my other top selections around him – before flipping placings around on various tickets.

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