2023 Florida Derby Runners and Riders: Forte Heads 12 Entries

The 2023 Florida Derby runners see 12 entries heading to post for Saturday’s big Gulfstream Park race. The Todd Pletcher-trained Forte, who is the current Kentucky Derby favorite, is the star name on show, but has been handed post position 11.

We’ve got all the entries, riders and post positions for the Gulfstream Park showpiece.

2023 Florida Derby Runners: Forte Will Need to Overcome Post Position 11

Forte will be the big favorite for Saturday’s Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park – the next big trial race on the road to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday May 6.

However, the Todd Pletcher-trained 3 year-old has not been handed a kind post position in gate 11. This means jockey Irad Ortiz Jr is likely to have to take a wide berth in the early part of the race.

That said, despite the wide berth, Forte is still expected to have a stack of followers as he continues his road to Churchill Downs and the Kentucky Derby.

The classy 3 year-old has won 5 of his six career starts, including the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last year at Keenland.

He’s since returned this season with an easy win at Gulfstream Park so we know the track will pose no issues. Forte bolted up by 4 1/2 lengths that day in the G2 Fountain Of Youth Stakes – coming from post position 3.

Those looking to take the Pletcher horse on will instantly look the his gate number 11, but those in his camp will say he’s still got the class to overcome the wide start. We’ll see on Saturday.

Forte is currently around 3/1 for the Kentucky Derby with the best US horse racing sites. However, a win on Saturday (April 1) in the Florida Derby will see those Churchill Downs odds shorten further.

Florida Derby Runners, Riders and Post Positions

1 (1): Jungfrau
Paco Lopez
William Mott

2 (2): West Coast Cowboy
Sonny Leon
Saffie A Joseph Jr

3 (3): Shaq Diesel
Miguel Angel Vasquez
Renaldo Richards

4 (4): Mage
Luis Saez
Gustavo Delgado

5 (5): Mr. Peeks
Edwin Gonzalez
Saffie A Joseph Jr

6 (6): Nautical Star
Leonel Reyes
Saffie A Joseph Jr

7 (7): Il Miracolo
Jesus M Rios
Antonio Sano

8 (8): Mr. Ripple
Edgard J Zayas
Saffie A Joseph Jr

9 (9): Cyclone Mischief
Javier Castellano
Dale Romans

10 (10): Fort Bragg
Joel Rosario
Tim Yakteen

11 (11): Forte
Irad Ortiz Jr
Todd Pletcher

12 (12): Dubyuhnell
Jose L Ortiz
Danny Gargan

The Last 10 Florida Derby Winners Had a Post Position Of 8 or Lower

One of the key Florida Derby stats to note is that ALL of the last 10 winners had a post position (draw) of 8 or less.

If this trend is to continue, then of the 12 Florida Derby runners heading to post Cyclone Mischief (9), Fort Bragg (10), Forte (11) and Dubyuhnell (12) would have this to overcome.

We’ve also had just two winning Florida Derby favorites since 2013, but all of the last 10 winners returned 54/10 or shorter in the betting. This suggests that the Florida Derby winner is often found in the first three in the betting market.

The Todd Pletcher Barn Have Won The Florida Derby 6 Times

Todd Pletcher

No trainer has won the Florida Derby more times than Todd Pletcher. The racing hall of famer has mopped up six Florida Derby wins over the years and is the most successful barn in the race’s history.

The first win in the race for Texas-born handler was 2007 with Scat Daddy, ridden by Edgar Prado.

He had to wait till 2014 for his next Florida Derby success when Constitution won, but it we then saw a wave of Pletcher wins.

2015 (Materiality), 2017 (Always Dreaming), 2018 (Audible) and most recently Known Agenda in 2021 were the other Florida Derby victories for the 8-time top trainer.

This year Todd Pletcher saddles the hot favourie Forte as his sole runner in the Gulfstream Park race on Saturday April 1.

Last Year’s Winning Trainer Saffie A Joseph Jr Has Four Florida Derby Entries

Twelve months ago, we saw the Saffie A Joseph Jr-trained White Abarrio win the race under Tyler Gaffalione. The popular grey could only manage 16th in the Kentucky Derby though and since taking this has failed to win another race to date.

The Joseph Jr barn are clearly meaning business again this year – with a third of the field coming from their team (4 runners).

Joseph told the Daily Racing From “Everything sort of came together at the last minute, Yesterday we were only going to run one, West Coast Cowboy. But the owner of Mr. Ripple and Mr. Peeks wanted to run his horses here instead of the Wood, and I liked the way Nautical Star worked this morning with West Coast Cowboy who, admittedly, didn’t work very well. But he didn’t work well before the Holy Bull, either, and ran third. And then everything worked out well for all four of our horses at the draw.”

They run West Coast Cowboy, Mr Peeks, Nautical Star and Mr Ripple and have been handed fair draws in 2, 5, 6 and 8 respectively.

Forte The Current 2023 Kentucky Derby Favorite

With the Florida Derby favorite – Forte – also the 2023 Kentucky Derby market leader, the win, lose or draw on Saturday the Churchill Downs betting market will have a shake-up.

Forte is the current 3/1 favorite for the Kentucky Derby on May 6, with Arabian Knight (8/1), Practical Move (10/1), Tapit Trice (10/1) and last weekend’s Louisiana Derby winner Kingsbarns (12/1) others to note in the betting.

Recent Florida Derby Winners

  • 2022 – White Abarrio 29/10
  • 2021 – Known Agenda 54/10
  • 2020 – Tiz The Law 7/5 fav
  • 2019 – Maximum Security 48/10
  • 2018 – Audible 8/5 fav

WATCH: White Abarrio winning the 2022 Florida Derby

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