Kentucky Derby Dream Bet Florida Derby & Spiral picks from Jennifer Caldwell
First up will be Turfway Park’s $500,000 Spiral (G3) at approximately 5:43 p.m. (ET) featuring an overflow field of 14. Surgical Strike (#2, 12-1) captured the local prep for the Spiral, the March 12 John Battaglia Memorial, but isn’t receiving much respect to make it two in a row on Saturday.
Nonetheless, the chestnut colt has the ability to take this nine-furlong affair. Not only did Surgical Strike win the Battaglia, he also rallied to just miss second in the WEBN S. to kick off his Turfway journey on February 20. Prior to that the Kentucky-bred competed exclusively on turf.
Surgical Strike’s BRIS Speed numbers aren’t exactly tops, but then again no one in this field has been blazing triple-digit figures. His late kick, which he utilized to very good effect when circling the Battaglia field to score by 2 1/2 lengths, will be tough to withstand in the Spiral.
About one hour later at 6:48 p.m., 10 sophomores will line up in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/8-mile contest features the much-anticipated match-up between undefeated champion Nyquist (#4, 6-5) and unbeaten Mohaymen.
Those two are hands down the best in this field, and maybe even for their crop, but being able to only pick one means that Nyquist is getting the nod.
Trainer Doug O’Neill has been very careful with Nyquist, cutting the bay colt back to seven furlongs for his 2016 debut in the San Vicente (G2) instead of sending him long right off the bat. Nyquist responded with an easy 1 1/2-length victory in that February 15 event at Santa Anita Park that netted him a career-best 103 BRIS Speed rating that also tops this field.
The Kentucky-bred son of Uncle Mo will be trying nine furlong for the first time in this spot, but hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down to date. He’ll try to bring a perfect mark into the Kentucky Derby (G1) with another win on Saturday.