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Mar 27, 2015

Upstart versus Itsaknockout headlines Florida Derby

By: SPORTS NETWORK


Hallandale Beach, FL (SportsNetwork.com) - Upstart and Itsaknockout, the first two under the wire in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, will renew their rivalry in Saturday's 64th edition of the $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.

Part of the "Road to the Kentucky Derby" schedule, winning the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby is worth 100 points toward a spot in the Run for the Roses on May 2.

Last month in the Fountain of Youth, Upstart finished 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Itsaknockout but was disqualified to second for interference.

"He crossed the finish line first, but definitely we got impeded a bit and (jockey) Luis (Saez) had to stop riding for a couple strides," Itsaknockout's trainer Todd Pletcher said.

Upstart, trained by Rick Violette, has been made the 8-5 morning line favorite over 2-1 second choice Itsaknockout. Upstart, owned by Ralph Evans, will start from the far outside post in the nine-horse field with Jose Ortiz again riding.

"This is an important race," said Violette. "There's no question we have the (Kentucky) Derby in our sights, but this is a Grade 1 and a million dollars. It's not like you lead them over half-fit with no intentions."

Upstart has won half of his six career starts for $779,480, posting a win in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream to begin the year.

"He ran a huge race first time out. He figured to bounce, regress, after that, but we thought he could do that and still win - which he did," said Violette, "This race is supposed to be better than that race."

Owned by Starlight Racing, Itsaknockout will break from post 4 with Luis Saez in the saddle. The colt will be making just his fourth lifetime start after getting his first stakes win in the Fountain of Youth to remain perfect in three starts and bank $287,360.

"To be running in the Florida Derby off three starts ... is fairly uncommon," said Pletcher. "We were able to do it with Constitution last year but it takes exceptional horses to do it."

Pletcher will also saddle Materiality, the 7-2 third pick, for Alto Racing. Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez will make a third-straight ride aboard Materiality with the pair leaving from post 7. The colt has earned $60,828 and is coming off a win in the Islamorada Handicap on March 6.

Here is the field for the Florida Derby in post position order: Ami's Flatter, Javier Castellano, 8-1; Jack Tripp, Irad Ortiz Jr., 20-1; Indianaughty, Corey Lanerie, 20-1; Itsaknockout, Luis Saez, 2-1; Quimet, Edgard Zayas, 20-1; My Point Exactly, Juan Leyva, 30-1; Materiality, John Velazquez, 7-2; Dekabrist, Jesus Rios, 30-1 and Upstart, Jose Ortiz, 8-5.

Post time for the Florida Derby will be approximately 7 p.m. ET.



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