Florida Derby Picks Up Another Contender

Florida Derby Picks Up Another Contender
Photo: Coglianese Photos
Smooth Air, winner of the Jan. 5 Hutcheson (gr. II), is pointing to the March 29 Florida Derby (gr. I).

Edited press release

Mount Joy Stables’ Smooth Air became a prime contender for the $1-million Florida Derby (gr. I) March 29 at Gulfstream Park after working a mile March 9, according to trainer Bennie Stutts Jr.

The Florida homebred son of Smooth Jazz posted his second straight mile breeze at Calder Race Course and will bid for a second stakes victory at Gulfstream this year. He captured the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (gr. II) Jan. 5.

Jockey Manny Cruz guided Smooth Air through the recent drill in 1:45 3/5.

“The track was a little slow, but sometimes when you bring a horse up to a race you can leave a horse’s best performance in a workout,” Stutts said. “We’re trying to avoid that. Last week we did a mile in 1:47. Today it was 1:45 and change, and next week it will be a shorter, faster work. We’re trying to bring him up properly.”

With less than three weeks to go before the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, the connections of nearly a dozen hopefuls for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) have indicated their intentions to run. The main contenders include IEAH Stable and partners’ Big Brown, Robert S. Evans’ Elysium Fields, and Bea Oxenberg’s Hey Byrn.

Also on the list are Four Roses Thoroughbreds’ Fierce Wind, Garland Williamson’s Cool Gator, M375 Thoroughbreds and Suarez Racing’s Golden Spikes, Jet Set Racing’s Tomcito, Alien Farm Allen Furst’s Nistle’s Crunch, Hardacre Farm’s B B Frank, and Rose Family Stable’s Make Me Zach.





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