HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – The 65th running of the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park April 2 will offer a $1 million incentive above and beyond the $1 million purse up for grabs in the major prep for the Triple Crown.
Horses that went through the ring at the Fasig-Tipton Florida Sale of selected 2-year-olds in training at Gulfstream last March are eligible to earn a $1 million bonus by winning this year’s Florida Derby. The bonus was announced before the prestigious sale that was held at Gulfstream March 4.
Undefeated champion Nyquist, winner of the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at Keeneland Nov. 1 and victorious Monday in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) in his 3-year-old debut, tops the list of bonus eligibles with more than $1.7 million in earnings and three Grade 1 victories. The Doug O’Neill-trained son of Uncle Mo, purchased for $400,000 by Reddam Racing, is considered a likely candidate to shoot for the bonus in the Florida Derby.
Also boasting Grade 1 credentials is bonus-eligible Mor Spirit, the Bob Baffert-trained winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1).The son of Eskendereya, purchased by Michael Lund Peterson for $650,000, was impressive winning the Robert B. Lewis (G3) Feb. 6 in his 3-year-old debut.
Colts Neck Stables’ Awesome Speed, a $335,000 purchase at the Florida Sale, has already won a prep for the Florida Derby over the Gulfstream track. The Alan Goldberg-trained son of Awesome Again captured the Mucho Macho Man Stakes on Jan. 2.
Other stakes winners eligible for the bonus include Annual Report, Flexibility, Hollywood Don, Jan’s Reserve, Mountain Music Man, Shakhimat, Governor Malibu and J R’s Holiday.
Trainer Todd Pletcher, who has saddled the winners of the last two runnings of the Florida Derby, has three on the list of Florida Sale graduates, including Mountain Music Man, Kismet’s Heels ($900,000) and exciting Triple Crown prospect Zulu. The son of Bernardini, who was purchased for $900,000 at the sale, has won both of his starts, including a 7 ¼-length romp in a Gulfstream Park optional claiming allowance Jan. 15.
Source: Gulfstream Park