Florida Derby, Spiral Stakes Offer Tickets to Kentucky Derby

With just five weeks to go before the Kentucky Derby (G1), the opportunities to gain entry into the 20-horse field are dwindling, and there are two key prep races on tap on Saturday.

All eyes will be on Gulfstream Park on Saturday as the top two betting favorites for the Kentucky Derby will be in action in the $1 million Florida Derby (G1), with 100-40-20-10 points up for grabs toward entry into the Run for the Roses.

Mohaymen and Nyquist are the headliners and already have earned enough points to assure getting into the Kentucky Derby field, but Saturday’s race could determine who will go off as the betting favorite on the first Saturday of May.

With 70 points, Mohaymen is sitting third in the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings. Nyquist is 12th with 30 points.

Mohaymen is the current betting favorite at Bovada at 4-1 for the Kentucky Derby, with Nyquist the second choice at 8-1.

Both are undefeated and lay over the rest of the 10-horse field in the Florida Derby. Mohaymen was installed as the even money favorite while Nyquist is the 6-5 second choice.

Mohaymen has the advantage of experience over the racing surface at Gulfstream Park, winning the Holy Bull (G2) and Fountain of Youth (G2). Nyquist has just one start this year, winning the San Vicente (G2) at Santa Anita at seven furlongs.

Overshadowed on Saturday will be the $500,000 Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park. The race offers up 50-20-10-5 points toward entry into the Run for the Roses.

It is contested over polytrack, but has produced a recent Kentucky Derby winner, Animal Kingdom taking the Roses in 2011 after prepping in the Spiral for trainer Graham Motion.

This year’s edition of the Spiral drew a full field led by Airoforce, who failed to fire as the beaten favorite in the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds in his last outing. Last year he was beaten just a neck in a runner up finish in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) and then won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in the slop.

He is the 3-1 morning line favorite and currently listed at 50-1 in early Kentucky Derby betting at Bovada.

His main foes will be Azar, a recent sharp winner against first level allowance foes, and Ralis, last year’s Hopeful (G1) winner who was not a factor in the Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park in his last out, fading to finish 10th.

Handicapper Michael Dempsey provides his full card analysis for Gulfstream Park daily and selections for all the major Kentucky Derby prep races at turfnsport.com.