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Mar 28, 2008

Florida Derby attracts 12 three-year-olds


Hallandale Beach, FL (Sports Network) - A dozen Kentucky Derby hopefuls have been entered for Saturday's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. The 1 1/8 mile race is situated five weeks before the Run for the Roses.

The 3-1 morning-line favorite is trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr.'s Big Brown. The colt will start from the far outside post with Kent Desormeaux again riding.

Owned by IEAH Stables and Paul Pompa Jr., Big Brown has been impressive in his two wins. Last September he broke his maiden by 11 1/4 lengths and earlier this month won by 12 3/4 lengths at Gulfstream. Desormeaux was aboard for the colt's second career start last time out.

Highly regarded Elysium Fields is the 4-1 second choice in the program. The runner-up in the track's Fountain of Youth Stakes is trained by Barclay Tagg and will start from post eight with Eibar Coa riding.

Owned by Robert Evans, the colt lost to Cool Coal Man by a half-length in the Fountain of Youth with Coa in the saddle.

"I think it's a great advantage against the others who don't see this track every day," said Robin Smullen, assistant to Tagg. "He trains well over it, and has liked it all year."

Elysium Fields has just one win in five career starts for $108,960.

Trainer Nick Zito has entered two in the Florida Derby, Fierce Wind and Da' Tara. Fierce Wind will break from the inside post with Cornelio Velasquez and Da' Tara will be ridden by Joe Bravo from post three.

Fierce Wind, owned by Halsey Minors Minor Stable, is coming off a victory in the Sam F. Davis Stakes last month at Tampa Bay Downs. The colt is on a three race win streak and has career earnings of $146,200. He is 6-1 in the morning- line.

Da' Tara is owned by Robert LaPenta and will making his first start in a stakes race. The colt, 20-1 in the program, has four lifetime starts with one win, a second and a third place finish.

Here is the entire field for the 57th Florida Derby in post position order: Fierce Wind, Cornelio Velasquez; Smooth Air, Manoel Cruz; Da' Tara, Joe Bravo; Tomcito, Jorge Chavez; Cool Gator, Eddie Castro; Nistle's Crunch, Julien Leparoux; B B Frank, Javier Castellano; Elysium Fields, Eibar Coa; Hey Byrn, Jose Lezcano; Majestic Warrior, Rene Douglas; Face the Cat, John Velazquez and Big Brown, Kent Desormeaux.

The Florida Derby has a scheduled post-time of 5:45 p.m. (et) and will be televised on ESPN2.

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