Tiz The Record Florida Derby

This is what grandparents warned us about: a rainy day. Remember, they’d say, ‘Save your pennies for a rainy day.’ Never quite got it. I do now. That ‘rainy day’ has arrived. It’s today and tomorrow and the day after, at least for the foreseeable future. They should have cautioned that the downpour could last for weeks, months, maybe longer. Already, everything seems soaked, except the bowels of our homes where we hide.


The old folks neglected to tell us that umbrellas, raincoats and galoshes would be useless against the deluge. That we’d need gloves, facemasks and respirators. Lots and lots of them. They didn’t advise that people would become infected and die in figures resembling a Keeneland sales auction. ‘Who’ll give me 100? Two? Three?…Do I hear 500?’ Thousand.


The bidding continues. Unabated. Worldwide. No ceiling in sight. Government/scientific estimates predict that, eventually, there will be between 100,000-240,000 deceased. Here. In the greatest country in the world. Those numbers represent lives lost. Not dollars. Real people. Fellow US citizens. Of all colors, nationalities and yes, ages. While some are particularly at risk, no one is excluded–grandpas, grandmas, mimis, nanas, brothers, sisters, sons, daughters, aunts, uncles and cousins. Neighbors. Acquaintances. Celebrities.


This time, we’re all on the front lines…fighting. Grunts in a war against an invisible enemy traveling on a universal passport with an unknown expiration date. Some survivors will be winners of a genetic lottery that devilishly can present the infected as asymptomatic—i.e. ‘fine’—so that they can unknowingly transmit the virus. Ironically, infected survivors may be immune to re-infection. That loophole will come in handy if, or when, a new and improved wave of COVID 19 arrives.


People say, ‘we’re all in this together.’ Correct. Like in an overcrowded, rush-hour subway car or a bingo hall aboard a cruise liner. We hope and pray, mightily, that the storm will pass. ‘Blow over’ without flooding our house. That we and our loved ones will survive unscathed. But all we really can do is to take care, stay inside, maintain a wide berth, avoid others who can infect or become infected. Reinforcements will arrive, bearing cure and vaccination. They’re merely time and thousands more deaths away.


This virus is science and not an alien invasion. It’s as remarkable as the union of sperm and egg and as deadly as cancer on steroids. But, eventually, the rainy day will go away. The sun will shine, and we will return to our normal lives. How do I know? Because it’s happened before.


According to Winston Churchill, “Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” There was a worldwide pandemic in 1918-19 called the Spanish Flu, but it didn’t originate in Spain. According to cdc.gov, about one-third of the world’s population became infected with the virus. There were an estimated 50 million deaths worldwide and approximately 675,000 in the United States.


That is all we wish to relay on that. We considered ignoring the Covid-19 subject altogether, but that seemed ostrich-like. Yes, this is a horseracing wagering site and, specifically, a blog about the sport. Thankfully, amazingly, some tracks nationwide have been able to continue to race. In this time of worldwide crisis, when all professional sports have disappeared, horseracing and ADW services like Xpressbet have provided a much-appreciated, home-based diversion to a segment of society.


Saturday’s Curlin Florida Derby card at Gulfstream Park was the best racing program of the season, anywhere! Full fields, competitive races, outstanding wagering opportunities, impressive performances…what else could a horseplayer ask for?

(To have attended in person. OK, wise guy, you got me!)


The 69th Florida Derby headlined a 14-race program that featured 10 stakes, six graded, worth $1.825 million in purses. Additionally, there was a mandatory payout in the popular Rainbow Six—which ultimately handled $9.2 million and returned $17,848 for each correct $0.20 wager. With Santa Anita abruptly padlocked approximately 30 minutes before Friday’s first race, much of the nation’s weekend wagering attention was focused on Gulfstream Park. Wagering was brisk, to say the least. According to DRF.com’s Mike Welsch, all source handle for the card was a record $53.5 million, eclipsing the previous mark of $49.9 million in 2018. Last year’s handle was $47.5 million. Oaklawn Park, Golden Gate Fields and Tampa Bay Downs were the only competing US-based tracks in action Saturday afternoon. Los Alamitos and Remington Park ruled the night.


In the main event, the Curlin Florida Derby, once-beaten Tiz The Law proved clearly best over a lot that appeared better, beforehand, on paper than they actually were on the track. The winner’s talent can’t be diminished. He did what was asked of him and did it in style. The son of Constitution, with jockey Manny Franco along for the ride, enjoyed a playbook perfect trip—third in the three-path into the first turn—nearly precisely as pre-game plans had dictated. Tiz The Law’s only career defeat came as a third, three-quarters of a length short, in the Kentucky Jockey Club, in late November, at Churchill Downs. That afternoon, he was trapped inside other horses and couldn’t make up needed ground when clear. Since then, it’s been widely reported that the colt prefers to be outside of others.


Casting slight shade on Tiz The Law’s triumph is the fact that 80-1 shot Shivaree—most recently second as favorite in the Hutcheson at six furlongs–was able to hold on for place. Perhaps, that’s less of a knock on the winner and more an indictment of the rest of the field. After all, it’s not a geared-down, four and one-half length winner’s fault who finishes second. Those behind Shivaree–racing two-turns for just the second time in his 10-race career–that failed to collar him in the lane of the mile and one-eighth test have some serious ‘splainin’ to do.’


Third-place finisher Ete Indien emerged from the tussle gashed, cut and minus a shoe. Don’t know if those equal enough to erase a five-length losing margin behind the winner, but they easily could eclipse a three quarter-length deficit to Shivaree. Gouverneur Morris, expected to take a forward step in the Florida Derby for trainer Todd Pletcher, was a mere neck behind Ete Indien in fourth. He never looked a threat throughout the race. The rest were five lengths further back and were not factors in the race. Independence Hall and As Seen On Tv were particular disappointments.


This Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby will not happen because of a Los Angeles County Health Department edict that the track close. That’s strange because Los Alamitos, just a 40-minute drive south (in light LA traffic), continues to race. Fortunately, for Los Al and evening fans nationwide, that track is located in Orange County instead of Los Angeles county. Golden Gate Fields continues to entertain in northern California.


At this writing, tracks previously mentioned as active, continue and, hopefully, will provide shelter for those of us in search of a place to spend another ‘rainy day.’


Be well. Take care of yourselves and others.


Race On!

Tiz The Record Florida Derby

BLOGS, On Track with Johnny D |