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Florida Derby: Stormello, Scat Daddy, Notional
by Geir Stabell ( / Globeform (
Last update: 2007-04-20 03:42:50 (First published: 2007-03-31 03:08:29 )

Gulfstream Park 31 Mar: Nine go to post and three names stick out, as we reach the first Grade One prep for the Kentucky Derby.

The 9-furlong Florida Derby (G1), won by the brilliant Barbaro last year, is also a rematch between Todd Pletcher’s Scat Daddy and William Currin’s Stormello. Just a nose gave it to Scat Daddy as they met in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), and there are good reasons to believe in a reversal today.

One that may make the outcome of that rivalry less important, is Doug O’Neill’s colt Notional. He is better than many seem to believe.


Gulfstream Park 31 March 2007 – 9 furlongs dirt

Horses presented with best Globeform, sires, riders.
A ”+” after horse indicates improvement expected.

115 – STORMELLO (Stormy Atlantic) + / V Espinoza
113 – NOTIONAL (In Excess) + / R Albarado
112 – SCAT DADDY (Johannesburg) / E Prado
110 – ADORE THE GOLD (Formal Gold) / C Velazquez
107 – BIRDBIRDSTHEWORD (Pure Prize) / M R Cruz
104 – CHELOKEE (Cherokee Run) / R Dominguez
102 – IMAWILDANDCRAZYGUY (Wild Event) / R Bejarano
..94 – JOHANNESBURG STAR (Johannesburg) / R Maragh
..90 – BOOGIE BOGGS (Dixie Union) + / J Bravo

The pace scenario will be crucial here, as the habitual front-runner Stormello will be trying to hold off two good closers, Scat Daddy and Notional. Scat Daddy beat Stormello by a nose in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) over this course and distance four weeks ago. Scat Daddy just got up by a nose that day, and the non-staying Adore the Gold was beaten just a length in fourth. He was pressing Stormello that day, but if he is to have any chance Adore the Gold will have to be ridden with more restraint. That would suit Stormello, who is taken to get his revenge on Scat Daddy.

Two more reasons to side with Stormello, or perhaps even three: Firstly, he was making his seasonal debut and Scat Daddy (who had been third in the Holy Bull, G3) held fitness advantage. Secondly, Stormello was spotting his rival two pounds, today they meet at level weights. The third factor is Stormello’s difficult shipping from California for the Fountain of Youth. An less than ideal, very long, journey may or may not have affected him. Put it this way; if it did, it was not in a positive way.

Stormello produced his best form when beating Princple Secret by a neck in the Norfolk Stakes (G2) over 8.5 furlongs at Santa Anita last October. Incidentally, he was the one coming from (just) off the pace in that event. He was part of a silly speed battle at the Breeders’ Cup (G1) and came home fifth, then bounced back to win the 8.5-furlong Hollywood Futurity (G1) by a neck from Liquidity.

His run last time was not far off his personal best, on ratings, proving that Stormello has trained on well as a 3-year-old. He is not likely to stay the 1 ¼ miles of the Kentucky Derby, and that makes this Derby all the more important to his connections. He is the most likely winner of this year’s Florida Derby.

Scat Daddy is of course a danger. He was ridden perfectly in the Fountain of Youth – held up – and finished really well. He won the Champagne Stakes (G1) at two, also with a strong finish, and was one place in front of Stormello at the Breeders’ Cup (only ¾ length between them).

Notional does have as good a chance, after his game win in the Risen Star Stakes (G3) over 8.5 furlongs at the Fair Grounds in February. He made smooth progress from the back, threading his way between tired horses, and ran on gamely to beat the closing Imawildandcrazyguy by 2 ¼ lengths, when carrying six pounds more than the runner-up. Imawildandcrazyguy went on to take fourth, 6 lengths behind the impressive Circular Quay, in the Lousiana Derby (G2) – where they raced at level weights. Theoretically, this makes Notional about the same horse as Circular Quay. Now, that may be stretching it a bit – but it may not be needed either, to have a chance today.



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