On This Day...
Photo: Jim Raftery - Turfotos
Snow Chief on Florida Derby Day.
March 1, 1986
Snow Chief at Gulfstream Park

There was no question Snow Chief was California's best 3-year-old. Now it was time to see if he was better than Florida's best.

Snow Chief arrived five days before the March 1 Florida Derby (gr. I) at Gulfstream Park on the same flight as Badger Land. Snow Chief, who ended his juvenile season with a score in the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I), had beaten Badger Land in the Feb. 2 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III) at Bay Meadows, and earlier had won the restricted California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita.

Snow Chief and Badger Land, who was supplemented, were the lone outsiders in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, with most of the 14 others coming out of the two divisions of Gulfstream's Fountain of Youth Stakes (gr. II). The Florida Derby favorite, Snow Chief took command around the first turn and held the advantage the rest of the way to win by 1 3/4 lengths over Badger Land.

"The final time of 1:51 4/5 was not impressive, but Snow Chief assuredly was," wrote Art Grace in The Blood-Horse. "The important factor is not so much how fast, but how."

Snow Chief returned to California for the Santa Anita Derby (gr. I), which he won by six lengths over Icy Groom, with Ferdinand third. In the Kentucky Derby (gr. I), it was a different story. Ferdinand won, with Snow Chief, unplaced, but the later evened the score with a Preakness (gr. I) win.

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