Tipsheet: 2022 Florida Derby

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

March 31st, 2022

A competitive field of 11 three-year-olds will run 1 1/8 miles on the dirt at Gulfstream Park in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1). The 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby challenge series event will reward the top four finishers with qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 structure towards the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 7.

Florida Derby Picks

  • #2 Classic Causeway
  • #6 Charge It
  • #7 White Abarrio
  • #3 Simplification

Florida Derby Wagers

  • $15 win and place #2 Classic Causeway
  • $5 exacta key box 2 with 3, 6, 7

Florida Derby Contenders

#1 STRIKE HARD (20-1) rallied for a belated fourth in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs for young trainer Matthew Williams. The Flashback colt has moved forward since adding blinkers three back, and continued improvement could find him challenging for a minor award late at a big price.

#2 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY (7-2) is two-for-two this campaign and gets the nod to remain unbeaten as a sophomore. The speedy Brian Lynch-trained colt continues to train in fine fashion, and has the right running style to match the surface. Irad Ortiz retains the mount.

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Classic Causeway winning the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs (Photo by SV Photography)

#3 SIMPLIFICATION (5-2) rates as the one to beat coming off a superb 3 1/2-length triumph in the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) last time out. The Florida-bred son of Not This Time is versatile and loves the strip, and he has the foundation to be a major player at nine furlongs. Jose Ortiz rides.

#4 KING OF TRUTH (50-1) finished a solid second in an allowance tilt on the green most recently, but he appears to be seriously overmatched in this endeavor on the surface change.

#5 PAPPACAP (10-1) is twice Grade-1 placed who comes off of a poor showing in the Lecomte S. (G3) at Fair Grounds last time out. The Mark Casse charge displayed a lot of class prior to that outing, and a major step forward is expected against this cast at a nice price. Edwin Gonzalez takes the ride on the stalking son of Gun Runner.

#6 CHARGE IT (7-2) owns just a maiden victory to date, but it was a fantastic performance from the son of Tapit. The gray colt is bred to be a very good one, and he appears to be an excellent prospect going forward for Todd Pletcher. The Whisper Hill Farm homebred has been training like a horse sitting on a big race in his stakes debut. Regular rider Luis Saez will be up.

#7 WHITE ABARRIO (3-1) romped in the Holy Bull S. (G3) most recently and is an obvious win threat in this one for Joseph. The Race Day colt is three-for-three on the oval and is training in swift fashion in preparation for his biggest assignment to date. Tyler Gaffalione will pilot the win contender and have him forwardly placed from the break.

#8 CAJUN’S MAGIC (30-1) tired late in the Holy Bull in his 2022 debut, and he will need a major step in the right direction to be a factor inside the final furlong on Saturday. Jesus Rios will guide the Michael Yates trainee.

#9 O CAPTAIN (20-1) closed from last to finish third in the Fountain of Youth at 87-1 odds last time out for trainer Gustavo Delgado. The lightly raced son of Carpe Diem had no trouble navigating two turns in his route debut most recently, and he could rally for a minor award if the pace backs up in the lane. Joel Rosario inherits the ride.

#10 CLAPTON (30-1) was a facile allowance sprint winner in his latest outing and wheels back quickly for his graded stakes bow. The Arindel homebred is in good current form, but this spot might be a bit over his head on nine days rest.

#11 STEAL SUNSHINE (30-1) came home well to record a runner-up finish with allowance foes last time out, but he drew widest of all and would be a surprise on this occasion.