- COVID-19 has completely changed the landscape of how and when horses prep for the Kentucky Derby
- An unheralded $55,000 allowance race at Gulfstream Park Wednesday has several Derby candidates
- Sole Volante, Ete Indien, and Shivaree all have legitimate Kentucky Derby hopes
Horse racing isn’t very flexible. For generations the Kentucky Derby has been run the first Saturday in May, followed by the Preakness two weeks later, and the Belmont three Saturday’s after the horses meet in Baltimore. The major prep races for the Kentucky Derby are run on Saturday’s in the months leading up to May. Not this year.
Because of COVID-19 the Derby was postponed until September, the Belmont is being run June 20, and with some tracks having closed, and horses out of their training routine, things are a smorgasbord of bizarre.
That leads us to Wednesday afternoon. It is not exactly prime time, yet this week a very normal and inconsequential allowance race at Gulfstream Park that features at least three Derby contenders. Let’s look at the field and do some handicapping. The race is an Allowance Optional Claiming of $100,000 and a Purse of $55,000.
Gulfstream Park June 10 Race 9 Odds
All odds taken June 9
Ete Indien has won three times in six tries including a romp in February’s Fountain of Youth Stakes.
He followed that performance up with a decent third in March’s Florida Derby, finishing behind Belmont Stakes favorite Tiz the Law, and Shivaree. Ete Indien was the runner up in the Holy Bull Stakes behind Tiz the Law too. All three of his career wins have come at Gulfstream Park.
Like Ete Indien, Sole Volante is trained by Patrick Biancone. He has three wins in five career starts. In February Sole Volante won the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs. A month later, in his last race, he was the runner up in the track’s Tampa Bay Derby.
His late running style should be helpful as the horses start to face longer distances, and his last race was flattered when King Guillermo came back to finish second in the Arkansas Derby behind only Nadal. If things go well Wednesday, Biancone has said he could wheel Sole Volante back very quickly and try him in the Belmont Stakes.
At odds of 80/1 Shivaree beat Ete Indien and was second behind Tiz the Law in the Florida Derby. His third straight runner up performance was by far his most impressive.
A winner of three races in 10 tries, Shivaree has won twice at Gulfstream Park, and may appreciate the cutback from a-mile-and-an-eight in the Florida Derby to a one turn mile in this race.
While Verve won a race similar to this in early February, backed it up with a stakes victory three weeks later, and finished third last month in a stakes, he is stepping up in class facing some pretty good opponents, but has Hall of Fame jockey Edgar Prado in his corner.
Biancone has the two favorites, and one of them is fairly likely to cross the wire first. Sole Volante seems primed for a good effort, has consistently faced good horses, and is a better price than Ete Indien. He is the pick in a really strong midweek race.
Pick: Sole Volante (+180)
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