Rail Runner

The Observations of a Horse Racing Enthusiast

Resounding Dial-tone in the Florida Derby

Posted by Brian Appleton on April 4, 2011

There is no question now; Dialed In is one of the best 3-year-old colts in the land after his impressive Florida Derby score over the deepest Kentucky Derby prep field of the year. Already the Mineshaft colt has won two graded stakes races in less than 3 months in only four lifetime starts for trainer Nick Zito and owner Robert LaPlenta.

Over a Gulfstream Park dirt strip that had been speed-favoring all day, Dialed In closed from dead last to capture the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Florida Derby. On the far outside of the 8 horse field, Flashpoint was expected to contest the early pace but was outrun early to the first turn by To Honor and Serve, Arch Traveler and Shackleford. Within a matter of strides jockey Julien Leparoux had Dialed In angled to the inside rail dead last, about four lengths behind the field. Halfway around the far turn Shackleford moved up along the outside of To Honor and Serve to take a narrow lead with Flashpoint right behind. Soldat sat just behind the leaders on the rail in fifth with Stay Thirsty to his outside and Bowman’s Causeway a half length behind.

Down the backstretch Dialed In was running well within himself, about 14 lengths off the solid pace set Shackelford who had run an opening quarter in :23.30. After a half in :46.35 Shackleford and To Honor and Serve began to pick up the pace with Flashpoint moving closer up as the field approached the far turn. From the back of the pack Dialed In began to roll, picking off horses with little urging from Julien Leparoux, his sights set solidly on the leaders. As they approached the top of the stretch it was still 68-1 shot Shacklford in front. To Honor and Serve tried to hold on as they swept into the stretch but began to weaken as Dialed In came flying from behind, now only 5 lengths from the front and still under a hand ride. With the stands now a bedlam of noise Dialed In continued to close with a fury, but there was no quit in Shackleford.

The wire loomed ahead as Shackleford’s lead quickly diminished beneath the unrelenting onslaught that Dialed In had unleashed. Blazing under the line it was Dialed in by a head with Shackleford running the race of his life in second. To Honor and Serve once again finished third after fading in the stretch. It was one length back to Flashpoint in fourth. Soldat, Arch Traveler, Stay Thirsty and Bowman’s Causeway completed the order of finish.

Gulfstream Park has been playing well to speed horses all season and it’s an immense show of Dialed In’s ability that he was able to overcome the track bias and defeat this high class field with such relative ease. Shackleford, To Honor and Serve and Flashpoint all contested the early lead and all finished in the money while Soldat and Stay Thirsty never fired and finished well behind.

Dialed In will now enter the Kentucky Derby as one of the solid favorites and a deserving one at that. The question that remains is this; can he win the Derby against colts like Uncle Mo, Premier Pegasus and The Factor in a 20 horse field where his come from behind style amid all the traffic will play against him. I am still of the opinion that Uncle Mo is the best this year but Dialed In looks incredible right now and is so young and lightly raced that he will probably continue to improve and get better with his next few races. One thing that is going to be a huge benefit for him in this year’s Kentucky Derby is all the speed on the front end.

It’s hard to say who was the most impressive sophomore runner this weekend with Dialed In’s awe-inspiring last-to-first Florida Derby win being so overpowering, but I belive there was one other 3-year-old graded stakes race that can give Dialed In a run for his money. [Read my post on R Heat Lightning here at Kentucky Oaks Runner on Horse Racing Nation]

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4 Responses to “Resounding Dial-tone in the Florida Derby”

  1. mary petrecz said

    I was disappointed with Soldat, and again disappointed with To Honor and Serve. I won’t make any excuses for Stay Thirsy…except the blinkers…I’m afraid he just doesn’t have the speed. *sigh* And Flashpoint was schooling for sprints. It was Dialed In’s race and he ran it in nail biting fashion. Shackleford was the big surprise and it’s going to be fun to see what he has going forward.

    • So was I, he didn’t run anything like his old self, but he may have just regressed off his two big wins at Gulfstream this year. Stay Thirsty was the biggest disappointment for me, he completely flattened out. I did notice he was sweating a lot before the race. I’m curious to see where both of these colts are headed from here.

  2. Brian,

    I am troubled by Dialed In’s slow final 1/8 and the fact he was just about all-out to get by a tiring pace setter. More important than the possible traffic issues for Dialed In are the stalkers lead Uncle Mo, who will get first jump on the pace setters. The FL Derby may also be instructive to the Derby, in that an expected pace duel never materialized. If that happens in the Derby, The Factor is going to be very tough!

    • I was kind of confused about his slow time and fractions as well but I don’t think it’s going to be that big of an issue with him moving into the Derby. There was a pretty big speed-bias going on that day (most of the meet actually) and he came from well out of it to win. He didn’t appear to be all out, watching him gallop out afterward he looked very comfortable.

      I completely agree about the stalkers being his biggest problem in the Derby. Uncle Mo and Premier Pegasus are explosive once they make their moves. The Factor getting an uncontested pace in the Derby would be scary indeed. It will be interesting to see what happens to the Derby picture if he dominates the Arkansas Derby.

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