Juddmonte Farms’ homebred Hidden Scroll will have his work cut out for him when he breaks from the rail as the 5/2 morning line favorite in the Florida Derby (G1) on Saturday, March 30.
An eye-popping maiden debut winner by 14 lengths on the January 26 Pegasus World Cup undercard, Hidden Scroll jumped straight onto the Kentucky Derby trail for his second start. Given 6/5 favoritism in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), he experienced trouble at the break, then was sent to the lead through blazing fractions before ultimately giving way late to finish a disappointing fourth. In his subsequent training sessions, the Bill Mott trainee has been placed behind horses, with the likely goal being to learn how to settle and rate.
“I think this horse is fine behind horses; he’s fine on the lead if the pace is such that he needs to be on the lead,” Mott said. “That’s the rider’s decision. They have to make that choice when they leave the starting gate.”
Joel Rosario rode him in first two starts, but with Rosario overseas for this weekend’s Dubai World Cup, Javier Castellano will hop aboard.
The Fountain of Youth winner Code of Honor earned enough points (50) to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate, but the Shug McGaughey trainee is back for one final start before the Run for the Roses. He was named the 3/1 second choice on the morning line will break from post 9 under John Velazquez. After scratching late out of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) with a minor illness, Code of Honor returned to make his 3-year-old debut in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes but struggled to a fourth-place finish as the 4/5 favorite. Like Mott did with Hidden Scroll following his loss, McGaughey changed up Code of Honor’s training regimen, and his bounce-back victory was a pleasant reward.
“I think I have a little bit more confidence (going into the Florida Derby) because I was a little bit shook after the Mucho Macho Man,” McGaughey said. “I kind of changed my strategy and that worked, so I’ve kept on with it and I think he’s progressing the right way.”
Along with Hidden Scroll and Code of Honor, three other Fountain of Youth runners will return for the Florida Derby: Bourbon War (who finished second), Union’s Destiny (sixth), and Everfast (eighth).
Harvey Wallbanger, the 29/1 upset winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (G2) on February 2, has been training steadily up to a start in the Florida Derby. The Kenny McPeek trainee was given morning line odds of 15/1 and will break from post 3 under returning rider Brian Hernandez, Jr.
“The Holy Bull was a lot of fun,” said Hernandez, Jr. “We were a ways back – that’s his running style. The race set up for him. We had a lot of speed in front of us. I was liking my spot. I was able to sneak up the fence, and turning for home when we were in contention, I thought he’d go on and finish it off, and he did. He ran on and ran a really big race.”
|1||Hidden Scroll||Javier Castellano||Bill Mott||5-2|
|2||Current||Manuel Franco||Todd Pletcher||15-1|
|3||Harvey Wallbanger||Brian Hernandez Jr.||Kenny McPeek||15-1|
|4||Bourbon War||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||Mark Hennig||7-2|
|5||Everfast||Chris Landeros||Dale Romans||20-1|
|6||Hard Belle||Jose Batista||Jaime Mejia||50-1|
|7||Maximum Security||Luis Saez||Jason Servis||9-2|
|8||Bodexpress||Nik Juarez||Gustavo Delgado||30-1|
|9||Code of Honor||John Velazquez||Shug McGaughey||3-1|
|10||Union's Destiny||Leonel Reyes||Juan Carlos Avila||30-1|
|11||Garter and Tie||Jeffrey Sanchez||Ralph Nicks||15-1|
The Florida Derby awards Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 scale.