The favorite has won the Kentucky Derby the last six years. So, it would seem to be a good betting strategy if you could only figure out who that horse is going to be.
The road to the Derby got even more muddled Saturday when Maximum Security wired the field to win the $1-million Florida Derby by 3 1/2 lengths. It was the colt’s fourth win a row but first stakes win. He started his career on Dec. 20 at Gulfstream Park in a $16,000 maiden claiming race. Good thing for owners Gary and Mary West that no one put a bid on him. The Wests also own Bob Baffert-trained Game Winner, who is No. 1 on many Derby prediction lists.
With the win, Maximum Security picked up 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points or almost three times as many as you usually need to make the 20-horse field.
Jockey Luis Saez broke the colt on top and was never really challenged heading into the top of the stretch, where he saved ground and was never headed. The Jason Servis-trained horse paid $11.60 to win.
Bonde Express was second and Fountain of Youth winner Code Of Honor was third. The favorite, Hidden Scroll, was sixth.
In Dubai, Thunder Snow became the first two-time winner of the $12-million Dubai World Cup when he held off a hard-charging Gronkowski to win by a nose at the Meydan Racecourse.
The 5-year-old Irish bred won last year’s World Cup and previous to that won the UAE Derby. It was as a 3-year-old that he parlayed a win in the UAE Derby into a start in the Kentucky Derby. And, in a strange sight, he broke from the gate and was extremely rank and started bucking. Jockey Christophe Soumillon, who rode him Saturday, pulled the colt up and walked off the course.
He did return to Churchill Downs last year and finished third in the Breeders’ Cup Classic.
Thunder Snow is trained by Saeed bin Suroor. He paid $10.60 in U.S. betting pools. There is no wagering in Dubai.
U.S.-based horses rounded out the top five in the World Cup with Gunnevera finishing third, Pavel, trained by Doug O’Neill and ridden by Joel Rosariom was fourth, and Audible, trained by Todd Pletcher and ridden by Flavien Prat was fifth. Mike Smith was riding Seeking The Soul, who finished eighth.
Southern California-based riders or trainers did not win any races on a day that featured $35 million in purses.
Trainer Peter Miller picked up a second and third in the Al Quoz Sprint, a six-furlong turf race. Belvoir Bay, ridden by Prat was beaten by 1 1/4 lengths by Blue Point. Stormy Liberal, with Rosario in the saddle, was third. Joe Talamo rode Last Caribou Club, trained by Tom Proctor, to a 13th and last-place finish.
Miller also got a second in the UAE Derby won by Plus Que Parfait. Gray Magician, with Rosario aboard, picked up 40 Kentucky Derby qualifying points with the second-place finish. He previously had a single point by virtue of a fourth in the Sham Stakes.
Stubbins, from the O’Neill barn with Prat up, finished sixth in the UAE Derby.
Rosario also rode True Timber to a ninth-place finish in the Godolphin Mile, which was won by Pletcher’s Coal Front.
Florida-based X Y Jet won the Golden Shaheen, a six-furlong dirt race.