One of the most important races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby takes place at Gulfstream Park this weekend.

The Florida Derby has produced 21 winners of Triple Crown races and this weekend’s Grade One could be potentially fascinating when it comes to the outlook of the opening leg of the Triple Crown this year. But, which horse will emerge as the leading contender in Florida on Saturday?

Race Information & Records

The Florida Derby is a Grade One affair that is staged annually with three or four weeks to go before the opening leg of the Triple Crown. This race is run over a distance of 1 1/8 miles, with the horses aged three competing for their share of the $1 million purse.

In total, 21 previous winners of the race have gone on to land success in at least one of the Triple Crown races, with 15 claiming victory in the Derby. Todd Pletcher holds the record for most race wins as a trainer with his victory with Forte being his seventh honor.

Florida Derby Leading Contenders


Fierceness represents the Todd Pletcher yard in the Grade One this weekend, but the three-year-old will have questions to answer after falling to a shock defeat on his return to action at the start of February. He looked short on fitness on that start in the G3 Holy Bull, finishing only third behind re-appearing rival Hades.

However, he retains plenty of interest following his dominant victory in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last season. Appears to be the one to beat, but there are now chinks in his armor.


Hades appears to be a very likely Derby contender for trainer Joseph Orseno this season. The three-year-old has progressed with every start that he has made to this point, most recently getting the better of Domestic Product and Fierceness to land the G3 Holy Bull over 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream.

That performance scored a career-high speed rating of 97, and he is a fascinating contender now up in trip. Certainly appears to be the value angle at the current prices.

Conquest Warrior

The Florida Derby could be a coming-of-age race for an unexposed contender on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, and there are few with better claims than Conquest Warrior.

This runner for trainer Claude McGaughey is yet to put a foot wrong on track, and he is improving with every showing. The three-year-old has a solid record at Gulfstream Park, most recently landing an allowance optional claimer at the start of March with a speed rating of 85. Further improvement is expected, and he could be talented enough to play his part.

Florida Derby Prediction

Hades looks to be on an upward trajectory, and we will be favoring him to lead home Fierceness once again at Gulfstream Park. At a price, Le Dom Bro could be a selection worth considering in exotics. He was last seen chasing home the impressive Dornoch in the G2 Fountain of Youth, and there could yet prove to be strength to that form.

Pick: Hades

Exacta Box: Hades/ Le Dom Bro/ Fierceness