Breaking down the Florida Derby field

Upstart looks to rebound from a DQ loss in the Fountain of Youth in Saturday's Florida Derby.

Harry How/Getty Images

The first major Kentucky Derby preps take place this weekend, and Saturday’s Florida Derby is one of the marquee events. The 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds awards 170 points toward the Kentucky Derby starting gate and a $1-million purse. Read on to get the lowdown on each of the nine contenders for the $600,000 top prize at Gulfstream Park.

1.  Ami’s Flatter (8-1)

Jockey: Javier Castellano

Trainer: Josie Carroll

Owner: Ivan Dalos

Career Record: 4 starts –€“ 1 win, 2 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $134,733

Earnings Per Start: $33,683

Pedigree: Flatter –“ Galloping Ami, by Victory Gallop

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Ami’s Flatter started his career in Canada before heading south to Florida. His two most recent starts have come at Tampa Bay Downs, where he was second to leading Kentucky Derby contender Carpe Diem in the Tampa Bay Derby on March 7. Trainer Josie Carroll aims to become the first female trainer to win the race, and should Ami’s Flatter earn enough points for the Kentucky Derby starting gate, Carroll could become the first female trainer to win that race as well.

2. Jack Tripp (20-1)

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Robert J. Baron

Career Record: 7 starts –€“ 1 win, 1 second, 1 third

Career Earnings: $52,549

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Earnings Per Start: $7,507

Pedigree: Flatter –€“ Vindicated Angel, by Vindication

Color: Chestnut

Running Style: Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Jack Tripp will be making his stakes debut in the Florida Derby after seven previous career starts. He broke his maiden at Keeneland in his third start and raced in Kentucky as a two-year-old before heading south for the winter. He will be joined in the Florida Derby starting gate by fellow Dale Romans trainee Indianaughty.

3. Indianaughty (20-1)

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Trainer: Dale Romans

Owner: Team Valor International

Career Record: 4 starts –€“ 2 wins, 0 seconds, 1 third

Career Earnings: $30,303

Earnings Per Start: $7,576

Pedigree: Indian Charlie –€“ Be Fair, by Exchange Rate

Color: Dark Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Indianaughty began his career in England, where he broke his maiden on a synthetic surface. When Team Valor brought him to the U.S., he won a turf race before disappointing in the El Camino Real Derby on the synthetic Tapeta Footings surface after a reversal of running style from a closer to a pacesetter. The colt may once again travel near the back of the pack early in the Florida Derby, which will be his dirt debut.

4. Itsaknockout (2-1)

Jockey: Luis Saez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Starlight Racing

Career Record: 3 starts –€“ 3 wins, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $287,360

Earnings Per Start: $95,787

Pedigree: Lemon Drop Kid –€“ Stormy B, by Cherokee Run

Color: Bay

Running Style: Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Fact: Itsaknockout won the Fountain of Youth Stakes, the local prep for the Florida Derby, via a controversial disqualification to remain undefeated in three starts. He previously broke his maiden in December by a nose and won an allowance optional claiming race in January by a dominant 5¼ lengths. His trainer-owner combination of Todd Pletcher and Starlight Racing previously campaigned champion Shanghai Bobby.

5. Quimet (20-1)

Jockey: Edgard Zayas

Trainer: Nick Zito

Owner: Lucky Shamrock Stable

Career Record: 5 starts –€“ 1 win, 1 second, 1 third

Career Earnings: $32,499

Earnings Per Start: $6,500

Pedigree: Birdstone –€“ Comanche Star, by Saint Ballado

Color: Chestnut

Running Style: Stalker/Pacesetter

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: Quimet earned his first career victory in a maiden claiming race in January before quickly advancing to a stakes race two starts later. The colt finished third in that race, the Islamorada Handicap, via disqualification, on the same track and at the same distance as the Florida Derby. Trainer Nick Zito has three victories in the Florida Derby, tied for the most of any trainer.

6. My Point Exactly (30-1)

Jockey: Juan Leyva

Trainer: Bill Kaplan

Owner: Pinnacle Racing Stable, R. Norman, R. Justice and H. Hendricks

Career Record: 4 starts –€“ 2 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $72,220

Earnings Per Start: $18,055

Pedigree: Concord Point – My Golden Quest, by Coronado’s Quest

Color: Gray or Roan

Running Style: Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: After dropping way off the pace in his first two starts in sprints, My Point Exactly found his sweet spot when stretching out in his final two starts of 2014. He raced just off the pace in a one-mile race at Gulfstream Park in August and won by 10½ lengths before testing stakes company on the grass at Louisiana Downs in September and winning the Sunday Silence Stakes by a neck. The Florida Derby is a tough spot for his first start as a 3-year-old, but this gelding by Concord Point will face a Grade 1 challenge with a ticket to the Kentucky Derby on the line. One to consider for longshot lovers.

7. Materiality (7-2)

Jockey: John Velazquez

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Owner: Alto Racing

Career Record: 2 starts –€“ 2 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $60,828

Earnings Per Start: $30,414

Pedigree: Afleet Alex – Wildwood Flower, by Langfuhr

Color: Bay

Running Style: Press/Pace

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: This lightly raced colt by 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner Afleet Alex is perfect in two starts for the multiple Eclipse Award-winning connections of Todd Pletcher and John Velazquez. For that reason, he must be respected. He also owns a pair of triple-digit Equibase Speed Figures, which suggests he belongs with this class of 3-year-olds even if it is a significant test. Materiality won his career debut by 4-plus  lengths in November at Gulfstream Park and then dominated the opposition in winning the Islamorada Handicap by 5¾ lengths on March 6 in his 2015 debut. He is a half-brother (same dam [mother], different sire [father]) to Grade 2 winner My Miss Sophia, the runner-up in the 2014 Kentucky Oaks. Don’t sleep on this one!

8. Dekabrist (30-1)

Jockey: Antioco Murgia

Trainer: Gennadi Dorochenko

Owner: Gennadi Dorochenko

Career Record: 13 starts –€“ 2 firsts, 0 seconds, 0 thirds

Career Earnings: $92,838

Earnings Per Start: $7,141

Pedigree: Street Boss – Shutterbug, by Deputy Minister

Color: Bay

Running Style: Closer

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: After winning his first two starts sprinting, including a 15 ¼-length debut romp at Gulfstream Park last May that earned a 102 Equibase Speed Figure, Dekabrist has not finished in the top three in 11 subsequent starts. In five graded stakes races, Dekabrist has been beaten by a combined margin of 92 lengths. This colt did show signs of promise in his most recent race when he finished fourth, beaten by less than three lengths, on the grass in the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds in February. The reality, though, is that Dekabrist is in very deep in the Florida Derby.

9. Upstart (8-5)

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Trainer: Rick Violette

Owner: Ralph M. Evans

Career Record: 6 starts –€“ 3 firsts, 2 seconds, 1 third

Career Earnings: $779,480

Earnings Per Start: $129,913

Pedigree: Flatter – Party Silks, by Touch Gold

Color: Dark Bay or Brown

Running Style: Stalker

Notable Achievements and Interesting Facts: The old saying about a horse being as honest as the day is long certainly applies to Upstart, who brings a big performance every time he steps on the racetrack. The Flatter ridgling has never finished out of the top three in six starts and the 111 Equibase Speed Figure he earned for a runaway victory in the Holy Bull Stakes puts him right there with the best three-year-olds on the Kentucky Derby trail. Upstart was disqualified for interference in the stretch in the Fountain of Youth Stakes in his most recent start in which he was much the best but did impede runner-up Itsaknockout. He will get a chance to make amends in the Florida Derby against that familiar foe and Upstart should again be a heavy favorite. He has twice finished in the top three in Grade 1 races, so the Florida Derby could be a breakthrough for Upstart and a springboard to the Kentucky Derby.

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