Scat Daddy Heads Florida Derby Field

Scat Daddy Heads Florida Derby Field
Photo: AP/Equi-Photo/Bill Denver
Fountain of Youth winner Scat Daddy next out in Saturday's Florida Derby.

Post positions have been drawn for the next Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) stepping stone race, the March 31 Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park. Grade I winner Scat Daddy currently heads the field at morning line odds of 5-2.

Owned by the partnership of Jim Scatuorchio and Michael Tabor, and trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Johannesburg captured last year's Champagne (gr. I) and Sanford Stakes (gr. II) during his juvenile campaign. Scat Daddy will enter the Florida Derby off a late-running nose victory over Stormello in the March 3 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II), also at the Florida track.     

Also in the lineup is Stormello, owned by the partnership of trainer Bill Currin and Alvin Eisman, and fellow California invader Notional, owned by J. Paul Reddam. Both are graded stakes winners.

Adore the Gold, a close fourth in the Fountain of Youth, also returns Saturday off a solid work tab.

Trainer Ken McPeek explained the reasoning behind his decision to run Raymond Cottrell's Birdbirdistheword in the Florida Derby rather than Lawrence Carroll’s Bold Start as originally planned: “I just think the way the race sets up, ‘Birdbird’ will be a better fit,” said McPeek Wednesday morning.

“It looks like there is plenty of speed in there and ‘Birdbird’ will be closing. They are both doing equally well. We’ll just switch Bold Start off to the Illinois Derby (gr. II) a week later (Apr. 7 at Hawthorne Park)."

There has been some additional buzz surrounding Bisnalth Parboo's 3-year-old Johannesburg Star, who has posted some impressive workouts lately at Gulfstream Park. But his chances for victory in the Florida Derby still look to be difficult.

“We know he's a longshot,” said Bisnalth Parboo's son, Shavananda. Both father and son are originally from Trinidad and Tobago and now live in Jersey City, N.J. “We need some racing luck, but he's the best horse we've ever been around, and we need to take this shot to see what kind of horse he is.”

Johannesburg Star, a son of 2001 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (gr. I) winner and Eclipse champion Johannesburg blew out three furlongs in :35.

“He went fast, but the rider never asked him,” said trainer Collin Maragh. “I would be concerned going that fast a few days before a race, but he was doing it on his own.”

The Kentucky-bred exits a disappointing last-place finish in the March 3 Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II) here on Mar. 3 in his first start for Maragh. Previously, Johannesburg Star was the runner-up in the Jan. 7 Count Fleet Stakes at Aqueduct on the heels of a fast maiden breaking victory there Dec. 6.

The Florida Derby (gr. I), $1,000,000 guaranteed, Gulfstream Park, March 31, 3-year-olds, 1 1/8 miles, approx. post 5:30 EDT
PP. Horse, Weight, Owner, Trainer, Jockey, Odds
1. Notional, 122, J. Paul Reddam, Doug O’Neill, Robbie Albarado, 4-1
2. Imawildandcrazyguy, 122, Lewis Pell & Michael Eigner, Todd Pletcher, Rafael Bejarano, 15-1
3. Scat Daddy, 122, Jim Scatuorchio & Michael Tabor, Todd Pletcher, Edgar Prado, 5-2
4. Adore the Gold, 122, John D. Murphy, Mike Gorham, Cornelio Velasquez, 6-1
5. Stormello, 122, Bill Currin & Alvin Eisman, Bill Currin, Victor Espinoza, 3-1
6. Chelokee, 122, Centennial Farms, Michael Matz, Ramon Dominguez, 8-1
7. Boogie Boggs, 122, My Meadowview Farm, Nick Zito, Joe Bravo, 8-1
8. Johannesburg Star, 122, Bisnath Parbod, Collin Maragh, Rajiv Maragh, 30-1
9. Birdbirdistheword, 122, Raymond Cottrell Sr., Ken McPeek, Manoel Cruz, 12-1

 

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