HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Tiz the Law, a dominating winner of the Feb. 1 Holy Bull (G3) in his 2020 debut, and Ete Indien, who romped to an 8 ½-length victory in the Feb. 29 Fountain of Youth (G2), are prominent on a list of 39 3-year-olds nominated to the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park March 28.
The Barclay Tagg-trained Tiz the Law, who ranked among the top juveniles of 2019 after winning the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park by four lengths last fall, scored by three lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull at Gulfstream without fully extending himself under jockey Manuel Franco. The son of Tiznow is owned by Sackatoga Stable, which campaigned 2003 Kentucky Derby (G1) and Preakness Stakes (G1) winner Funny Cide.
The Patrick Biancone-trained Ete Indien, who finished second behind Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull, overcame a far-outside post position to produce an eye-catching front-running triumph in the 1 1/16-mile Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream. Ete Indien is owned by a partnership that includes Linda Shanahan, D P Racing and Sanford Bacon.
The 69th running of the Florida Derby will highlight a program with 10 stakes, six graded. The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby has produced the winners of 59 Triple Crown events, as well as 24 Derby winners, 19 Preakness winners and 16 Belmont winners.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has nominated five horses to the Florida Derby, while Gulfstream’s leading trainer Todd Pletcher is represented by nine 3-year-olds on the nominations list.
Authentic, the San Felipe (G2) winner who is undefeated in three starts for Starlight Racing et al.; Karl Watson, Michael Pegram and Paul Weitman’s Azul Coast, who captured the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in February; Eight Rings, the 2019 American Pharoah (G1) winner who is owned by SF Racing LLC et al; Gary and Mary West’s High Velocity, who finished third in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) last time out; and Gary and Mary West’s West Sider, an impressive debut winner at Santa Anita last month; are Southern California-based Baffert’s Florida Derby nominees.
Pletcher’s Florida Derby nominations include Mathis Stable LLC’s Candy Tycoon, who closed from eighth to finish second in the Fountain of Youth; and Team Valor International and WinStar Farm LLC’s Gouverneur Morris, the 2019 Breeders’ Futurity (G1) runner-up who was impressive in winning his 2020 debut.
“He worked as well as he ever has this morning,” trainer Todd Pletcher said of Gouverneur Morris. “I think we should take what’s in front of us [Florida Derby], assuming they keep running at Gulfstream.”
Gouverneur Morris breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 while covering the last quarter-mile in 24 seconds.
Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners et al.’s Independence Hall, who was rated among the top 2-year-olds last year after winning the Nashua (G3) by 12 ¼ lengths, represents trainer Michael Trombetta on the Florida Derby nominations list. The son of Constitution, who began his sophomore season with a four-length victory in the Jerome at Aqueduct, is coming off a second-place finish in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs.
Biancone-trained Sole Volante, who defeated Independence Hall by 2 ½-lengths in the Sam F. Davis before finishing second in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2); Steve Asmussen-trained Shoplifted, who finished second in the 2019 Hopeful (G1) and most recently finished fourth in the Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn; Kiaran McLaughlin-trained Ajaaweed, who finished third in the Sam F. Davis after finishing second in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct last fall; Kelly Breen-trained As Seen On Tv, who finished third in the Fountain of Youth; and Ralph Nicks-trained Shiveree, who finished second in the Hutcheson and third in the Swale (G3) at Gulfstream this year; are also prominent on the list of nominees.
Due to all casino closings and the lack of on-track handle, Gulfstream Park announced the purse of the Curlin Florida Derby (G1) will be $750,000, the Kitten’s Joy Pan American (G2) will be $200,000, the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) will be $200,000, and the Cutler Bay and Sanibel Island will be $100,000.