Florida Derby Odds: Is Kentucky Futures Favorite Forte Beatable?

Written By Dave Bontempo on March 31, 2023
florida derby odds

Do bettors simply stop and admire potential super horse Forte or can they find money in Florida Derby odds? That’s what nationwide gamblers will ponder up until post time before heavily-favored Forte meets his opponents in the $1 million Florida Derby on Saturday. Post time is approximately 6:40 p.m. EDT, and gamblers can access the action via TVG.

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2023 Florida Derby Odds

The fact that this contest is a win-and-in for the Kentucky Derby no longer matters to Forte’s connections. The 2022 Breeders’ Cup winner already has a Derby-qualifying 90 points, 50 coming when he demolished the Fountain of Youth field at 1-2 odds at this same Gulfstream Park in early March.

Cyclone Mischief and Mage, his closest pursuers in the Fountain of Youth, at least show up here to take a crack at the 1 1/8-mile distance, which Forte hasn’t done yet. That’s about all he hasn’t done.

Here is the field. Final Florida Derby odds become official at post time, per pari-mutuel rules.

1Jungfrau20-1Bill MottPaco Lopez
2West Coast Cowboy20-1Saffie Joseph JrSonny Leon
3Shaq Diesel20-1Ren. RichardsMiguel Vasquez
4Mage10-1Gust. DelgadoLuis Saez
5Mr. Peeks30-1Saffie Joseph Jr,Edwin Gonzalez
6Nautical Star30-1Safffie Joseph Jr.Leonel Reyes
7Il Miracolo30-1Antonio SanoJesus Rios
8Mr. Ripple30-1Saffie Joseph Jr.Edgar Zayas
9Cyclone Mischief8-1Dale RomansJavier Castellano
10Fort Bragg5-1Tim YakteenJoel Rosario
11Forte4-5Todd PletcherIrad Ortiz
12Dubyuhnell6-1Danny GarganJose Ortiz

Past Performances

1. Jungfrau (20-1)

At first glance, it appears the sixth-place finisher in the Withers has no business in this race. At second glance, same. Several glances later, still doesn’t belong. But connections obviously think he is going to improve.

2. West Coast Cowboy (20-1)

A good third in the Holy Bull behind Rocket Can at Gulfstream. Ran an excellent race at 50-1 and finished ahead of Cyclone Mischief, who figures to get play here. Appeared headed for a softer landing in the Sam Davis at Tampa Bay, but was ultimately not entered. Could be an enticing value-laden play underneath. Based on recent running style, he should show early foot.

3. Shaq Diesel (30-1)

Ran well enough for six furlongs in the Risen Star at 99-1 before finishing 10th. Will probably be a pace factor before being overrun. Keep an eye on where he goes from here. He’s good at lower levels.

4. Mage (10-1)

A representative fourth in the Fountain of Youth. Ran a hard-stalking fourth at 5-1. Legitimate presence in the exotics. Was shut off with Forte pinching in and Rocket Can drifting out in the homestretch of the Fountain of Youth. It may have cost him second.  Might be worth an exacta play with Forte and an exotics wager in the second position.

5. Mr. Peeks (30-1)

Saffie Joseph Jr., the leading trainer at Gulfstream, takes a pop on a horse graduating from a second spot in maiden special weights. One of four longshots for Joseph, joining West Coast Cowboy, Nautical Star and Mr. Ripple.

6. Nautical Star (30-1)

Enters off six-furlong triumph in maiden company at Oaklawn. Not a winning profile here.

7. Il Miracolo (30-1)

Ran hard for a few furlongs in the Fountain of Youth but was nowhere near it in the end. Probable repeat of form. Any piece of the minors would be a major win.

8. Mr. Ripple (30-1)

Another Gulfstream horse trying to find lightning in a bottle at a higher level. Some method to the madness here, however, as he comes off a good second at this distance, even if it was allowance company. Having done the distance is a plus.

9. Cyclone Mischief (8-1)

Excellent third in the Fountain of Youth. Was in the top two swinging for home before stubbornly yielding to Forte and Rocket Can. The fact that Forte’s win a 1 1/16 was widening does not bode well for this horse. But he runs hard every time out and figures to be a threat in the exacta, trifecta and superfecta.

10. Fort Bragg (5-1)

Finished fifth in the San Felipe, outgunned decisively by Kentucky Derby qualifier Practical Move at Santa Anita. Had every reason to win by ranging up on the lead and taking dead aim in the stretch. Just didn’t have enough. Must ship to Gulfstream. Was scratched from the Sunland Derby. Connections may have thought the increased purse and qualifying points were worth the step up in class. But 35-1 shot Wild On Ice won the Sunland Derby. That could have been Fort Bragg. Can still get 40 Derby points and probably qualify if he does as well as second.

11. Forte (4-5)

A Derby prep and a nice chunk of change is in front of him. Besides the money, the race makes sense because it is a stretch to 1 1/8 miles. He needs to at least have that under his belt before going 1 1/4 miles in the Kentucky Derby. Gets better each time out. Toyed with the Fountain of Youth field before winning handily. On that day, he looked like he could stretch well beyond 1 1/8 miles. We’ll see what happens on this day. The pick. But the trick is finding a way to make money with him.

12. Dubyuhnell (20-1)

A disinterested eighth as the 2-1 chalk in the Sam Davis. New York shippers are often over bet when they come to Florida. We’ll see if that pattern holds here.

Florida Derby Handicapping Tips

Pace Considerations

West Coast Cowboy wants to be near the front. So does Il Miracolo and perhaps Shaq Diesel. Mage, Cyclone Mischief and perhaps Fort Bragg should be in strong stalking position and Forte might be mid pack, biding his time. When they come for home, the class should assert itself. The only question at that point is whether the early speed collapses, allowing a late runner to pick up pieces. That’s what happened last year in the Florida Derby when White Abarrio stalked and won, while Charge It rallied to steal second at the wire.

Betting Considerations

If Forte’s odds are similar to the Fountain of Youth, and they may be, there might be some money available by nailing second place with him for a few dollars.

A 50-cent superfecta with the 11 over any four horses only cost $12. My picks would be the 2, 4, 8 and 9 in an attempt to beat out the 10. In a similar scenario at the Fountain of Youth, the 10-center paid $33.66. That would translate to over $168 here.

I may take another with the 11 first, the 4 second and the 2-8-9 to occupy third and fourth. A couple of inexpensive stabs like this to hit a $1 superfecta are worth it.

Good luck finding your angle in Florida Derby odds.

Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule

The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began Feb. 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the remaining 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.

RaceTrackDatePoints For Top Finishers
Wood MemorialAqueductApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Blue GrassKeenelandApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita ParkApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10

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Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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