The FL Derby is Anoush Command v Chai Morning. Then Everyone Else.

The FL Derby (Grade 1)- $1,000.000 Purse
GP- For Three Year Olds
One Mile and One Eighth on the Dirt
March 28, 2020

Last week, the 100 point KYD prep races officially began with Bound Bay’s win in the LA Derby. Now, the races start to wind down to what figures to be the last chances for a horse to earn any points unless they want to come back on short rest in two weeks. There have been some exciting races here in the past, and one of my favorites in terms of covering was Compress back in 2016. We also were able to see Five Fives include this race on his march to the KYD. We’ll see some strong contenders here, including one of my favorites, Anoush Command, but in reality the amount of “last chance” entries here is the story of the field. Time is running out, the virtual KYD is in just five weeks. Let’s meet the horses hoping to get those crucial points!

#1- Anoush Command (Fractious, ridden by J R Velazquez) (KYD Points: 28, 11th)- Anoush Command is probably the best KYD contender who as of right now, really has not won anything. He has been consistent, and that includes three consecutive second place finishes in the Remsen, Lecomte, and the Risen Star. Eventually, he is going to win a big one, right? This is a very good horse, but he keeps finding one a little better. I don’t think that’s here today and I don’t think he has any excuses here.

#2- X Ray Spex (Estero Farms, ridden by R M Hernandez) (KYD Points: 0)- Maiden was picked up in the auction for $135.650. Clearly, the trainer thinks highly of him, and anything is possible on HRP. But he is still a maiden. Let’s move on.

#3- Mortar (D J C Racing Stables, ridden by A Beschizza) (KYD Points: 0)- Gelding has two wins in nine starts, but has not really stepped up when his competition level has been advanced. Did not show much in two FL Sire Stakes races, and this year has only been racing in allowances. He’s improving, but this is a hail mary to get into the KYD.

#4- Romantic Boots (Drabfantasy, ridden by K J Desormeaux) (KYD Points: 0)- After not winning his debut, he was entered into three straight stakes races and provided an example of why I discount maidens in stakes. For every one that wins and gets the forum thread, many do not. Romantic Boots did return to maiden company for his fifth start, and did win, so he is more prepared for this race. Has not done a lot of running long, but like Mortar, time’s up if you want to get into the KYD, so you need to take the chance if you think its worth it.

#5- Grond (Mb Stables, ridden by R Bejarano) (KYD Points: 0)- After starting this preview with the excitement in Anoush Command, the last three horses have been underwhelming. Grond is a step above them in that he seems more ready to take this chance. That said, he’s only one once in his seven starts, but had a very close call in the $100.000 El Camino in his last start. That’s exciting after the previous three.

#6- Le Pavoniere (Shermfirm Stables, ridden by J L Ortiz) (KYD Points: 0)- New trainer hopes to get a big score here in what is just their fourth start (as of press time). This gelding was picked up in private sales for $75.000, so right away we see that this barn is not going to be afraid to spend money. That came after a win in the LA Legacy, which was his second win in three starts. Would have liked to have seen a more recent work.

#7- With Ease (Team 7 Illusions, ridden by D E Centeno) (KYD Points: 0)- Another swing for the fences here. With Ease has won two out of three, but that last win comes in a prestigious (not really) $10.000 claimer at TAM. It does look like Team 7 Illusions has found something in works since then, and it looks like there will be changes to his adds entering the race. I wouldn’t rule him out in being a sleeper for a piece of this.

#8- Royal Assembly (Nakamura Stables, ridden by A T Gryder) (KYD Points: 10, 31st)- Ah, good. After Anoush Command, I was beginning to think I was previewing a Grade 3 instead of the FL Derby. Royal Assembly needs to pick up points in this race, and I am sure the trainer smiled when he saw the field, because third should be enough. This gelding is a perfect 2-for-2 this year, and comes off of winning the Grade 3 Southwest. Works are strong, and he has no excuses to not get a minimum, top three, if he runs his race.

#9- Fracas (Rampage Stable, ridden by I Ortiz Jr) (KYD Points: 0)- While running in sprints, Fracas has been successful, and comes off of winning the $100.000 Hutcheson Stakes right here last month. If we were going six furlongs again, there would be plenty to like, but Fracas is going to be running much longer then he is used to here. He turned in a good work here on the 13th, so I think he can be competitive, and would be taking the shot as well.

#10- Winchester (Maxmillion Farm, ridden by J K Court) (KYD Points: 0)- Broke his maiden in his last start, which was his first after being gelded. That seemed to help him, because he was a non factor in his races leading up to that. He was better on turf, and might be heading back there eventually, but that is on hold right now as this chance unfolds.

#11- Sail Away- Scratched.

#12- Starship Sweeper (TwinTowersRacing, ridden by M Tunon) (KYD Points: 0)- A maiden with eight career starts. Last start saw him lose by five lengths. Highest SRF is an 86. Did TwinTowers click on the wrong horse when entering? All kidding aside, he has had several closes in those races, and has hit the board six times, mostly all at the high level. This is not a loaded field, so he could sneak in and get a piece.

#13- Chai Morning (Aer Stables, ridden by S X Bridgmohan) (KYD Points: 54, 5th)- It’s not going to be a walk in the park for Anoush Command, after all! Unlike Anoush Command, Chai Morning has been able to win a big race, coming in the Fountain Of Youth Stakes in his last start. Overall, he has four wins in seven career starts, and let’s face it, Aer Stables is on fire this year with three year olds. These two are the class of the field, but the starting position of each of them has to be considered, with one on the rail, and the other out here. It also just seems like Anoush Command is due more then Chai Morning is. Chai Morning is assured his spot in the KYD, so the purse is the biggest incentive for Aer. It’d be entertaining to see these two pull away and battle it out in the stretch.

#14- Zafonic Way (The Freakshow, ridden by J J Hernandez) (KYD Points: 0)- On the outside, this Zhalad gelding has won two of six, and has been part of the exacta in five of those races. He will be making his graded debut here as another example of time running out in the TC chase. His last start saw him impressively come from behind to finish second in the Mine That Bird Derby, and a similar effort could see him get a piece of the purse here.

Prediction: 1-13-8-5

— NS

Categories: Grade I, STAKES ARTICLES

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