HRT Highlights #55 Florida Derby Recap

In this HRT Highlights #55, we will look at this weekend’s qualifying races the Florida Derby & Arkansas Derby, and also the Kentucky Oaks qualifying races Gulfstream Park Oaks & Fantasy Stakes.

HRT Highlights #55

2023 Florida Derby

Breeder Cup Juvenile Champion Forte went in the Florida Derby as a prohibitive favorite but turning for home he looked like he was not going to make the bettors happy.  But Irad Ortiz went to work and Forte made up a lot of ground to pass Cyclone Mischief and Mage to win his 6th consecutive race. Todd Pletcher won his 7th Florida Derby and the victory gave Ortiz his 6th win on the day.  Forte moved to the top of the points standings and Mage looks to be in the Derby field. 

2023 Arkansas Derby

While Forte dazzled the fans with his late dash to victory, Angel of Empire showed his victory in the G2 Risen Star was no fluke as he demolished the Arkansas Derby field by nearly 5 lengths. King Russell closed late for second. Reincarnate finished third with Rocket Can 4th. All four horses have enough points to start in the Derby but there are four points races left to be run. Brad Cox trains Angel of Empire and Flavien Prat is his jockey.

2023 Fantasy Oaks

Brad Cox and Flavien Prat also teamed up to take the Fantasy Oaks with Wet Paint.  Wet Paint had won back-to-back races over a muddy Oaklawn surface and this was the first opportunity for the filly to face top-notch competition on a fast track.  Despite breaking last, Prat kept his cool and at the 6-furlong mark swung five wide and cruised to a two-length victory.  Wet Paint is now the 5/2 favorite in the Oaks Future Book. Taxed rallied to get 2nd and looks like she will be in the Oaks if that is the direction the owners want to go.

2023 Gulfstream Park Oaks

It took Affirmative Lady 5 starts to break maiden but only more race to secure a spot in the Kentucky Oaks when she won the Gulfstream Park Oaks.  Sent off at 8/1 because of the presence of Davona Dale winner Dorth Vader and a pair of Pletcher stakes winners, she saved ground along the rail and when Luis Saez asked for more she powered to the front to win by two. Sacred Wish finished second and Florida favorite Flakes got 3rd. This will be Graham Motions first Oaks starter in 12 years.

The Road to the Derby continues

This week we have the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland, The Wood Memorial taking place at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby in California.

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