Audible installed as 9-5 favorite in nine-horse Florida Derby

Mar 28, 2018 by James Scully/

Audible drew rave reviews for a convincing Holy Bull (G2) victory earlier in the Gulfstream Park meet but has been perhaps a bit of a forgotten horse as 12 qualifiers in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series have been offered in the eight-week interim since his last appearance. But he won’t be overlooked by bettors when returning in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1).

Installed as the 9-5 morning line favorite among nine runners, Audible will attract the lion’s share of support in the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby following a 5 ½-length decision that netted a whopping 105 BRIS Speed rating. Three-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, who captured last year’s edition with Always Dreaming, will send out the son of Into Mischief and Javier Castellano retains the mount.

The Florida Derby is worth a total of 170 points (100-40-20-10 scale) and Audible probably needs a top two finish after netting 10 points for winning the Holy Bull, his lone start in a qualifier. The bay colt will break from post 8 with a short run to the first turn.

“With only nine horses in the race, (the post is) fine,” said Elliott Walden, President/CEO of co-owner WinStar Farm. “Obviously there was some discussion about the 11 or the 12 going a mile and an eighth here at Gulfstream Park, but he doesn't have to worry about that so I think everything else is good.

“He's doing very well. He looks happy. We were up at Palm Beach Downs (Tuesday) and he's very bright, very alert. He's an average work horse but he's been that way his whole life. The other day he worked a half in 49 and one and I think Todd worked 30 horses a half-mile at Palm Beach that day, and he was third of 30. We were very pleased with how he worked and looking forward to Saturday.”

Promises Fulfilled was overlooked at 18-1 when opening his sophomore season in the March 3 Fountain of Youth (G2) at Gulfstream but surprised with a powerhouse performance, dominating throughout on the front end and registering a 104 BRIS Speed rating. Conditioned by Dale Romans, who also trained sire Shackleford, Promises Fulfilled stamped his Kentucky Derby ticket with the 50-point prize last time and has been listed as the 3-1 second choice with new rider Robby Albarado.

Catholic Boy, who concluded last year with a sharp score in the Remsen (G2), brings a formidable late kick to the equation and will look to improve upon a close second in the February 10 Sam F. Davis (G3). Irad Ortiz Jr., who was up on Promises Fulfilled in the Fountain of Youth, opts for the Jonathon Thomas-trained colt and Catholic Boy is the early 7-2 third choice.

“He's really settled in well here,” Thomas said of Catholic Boy. “I'm glad we (shipped in) when we did. He had a really nice breeze over the track and came out of it well, so we're happy.”

Fountain of Youth runner-up Strike Power, a decisive winner of his first two starts sprinting including the Swale (G3), comes next on the morning line at 4-1 and appears likely to show speed from his innermost post with regular rider Luis Saez.

“I think the post suits (Strike Power) well,” trainer Mark Hennig said. “He's got the right style to be in the one hole. He's certainly not going to get outrun by too many of them going into the turn so he'll sort out a good trip from there. I didn't want to be on the outside, because then we would have been forced to either sit or really gun so I think the post is perfect for him.”

The remaining five contestants are listed at double-digit morning line odds: Mississippi (12-1), Hofburg (20-1), Storm Runner (20-1), Tip Sheet (30-1) and Millionaire Runner (50-1).

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