The stakes are high on the road to the Kentucky Derby, as a field of 12 will vie for $1 million and precious qualifying points at the Curlin Florida Derby on Saturday, April 1 on CNBC and Peacock. The winner of the race will receive 100 of these points with the runner-up getting 40, the third-place runner receiving 30, the fourth-place finisher receiving 20 and the fifth-place horse receiving 10.
NBC Sports has you covered with everything you need to know about Saturday’s race, which will get underway Saturday at 6 p.m. EST, airing on CNBC and streaming on Peacock.
Who will be racing at the Florida Derby?
- Bill Mott (trainer), Paco Lopez (jockey)
- West Coast Cowboy
- Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Sonny Leon (jockey)
- Shaq Diesel
- Renaldo Richards (trainer), Miguel Vasquez (jockey)
- Gustavo Delgado (trainer), Luis Saez (jockey)
- Mr. Peeks
- Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Edwin Gonzalez (jockey)
- Nautical Star
- Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Leonel Reyes (jockey)
- II Miracolo
- Antonio Sano (trainer), Jesus Rios (jockey)
- Mr. Ripple
- Saffie Joseph Jr. (trainer), Edgard Zayas (jockey)
- Cyclone Mischief
- Dale Romans (trainer), Javier Castellano (jockey)
- Fort Bragg
- Tim Yakteen (trainer), Joel Rosario (jockey)
- Todd Pletcher (trainer), Irad Ortiz Jr. (jockey)
- Danny Gargan (trainer), Jose Ortiz (jockey)
Who is the favorite for the Florida Derby?
All eyes will be on the reigning two-year-old champion Forte come Saturday, who has earned 90 points to date and won five of his six career starts. His 2023 campaign got off to a quick start after taking the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream by 4 1/2 lengths on March 4 in his 3-year-old debut. His other recent wins include triumphs at the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes, the Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity and the Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.
The 4/5 morning line favorite and trainer Todd Pletcher, however, will have some obstacles in the way as they look to continue the charge to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby. As Pletcher looks to extend his streak to a record-setting seven wins, he’ll need Forte to overcome a post position 11 at Gulfstream Park.
Horses who have drawn post position 11 at the Florida Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles since Gulfstream was reconfigured in 2006 have come away with the crown a mere 2 of 50 times.
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What should I look for come race day?
The unlucky post position for the favorite Forte opens the door for other contenders, such as Fort Bragg and Cyclone Mischief.
Fort Bragg, who was initially slated to race at last weekend’s Sunland Derby before re-routing to Gulfstream, will be making his second start for Tim Yakteen. The $700,000 purchase is coming off a fifth-place finish at the Fountain of Youth on March 4 and is 5-1 on the morning line for Florida under Forte.
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Not far behind, however, is Cyclone Mischief, who displayed an encouraging performance at the Fountain of Youth, holding a lead for the first mile before falling to third. The three-year-old and his trainer, Dale Romans, will look to cause a bit more havoc at Gulfstream and earn valuable points to keep the hopes for Louisville alive.
Others to keep an eye on come race time include Mage, who has a total of 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points and West Coast Cowboy, who currently sits with six.
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How can I watch the Florida Derby?
- Date: Saturday, April 1st
- Time: 6 p.m. EST
- TV Network: CNBC
- Streaming: Peacock
When is the 2023 Kentucky Derby?
The 2023 Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 6th, and will air across the networks of NBC Sports and Peacock.
For more horse racing coverage and the latest on the road to the Kentucky Derby, visit nbcsports.com.