Florida Derby, a race for owners who can afford the hotel rates in Louisville during Derby week, have three serious problems to overcome. The other six in the field shouldn't be completely ignored. They have the required four legs and a tail, but so did Babe, the wonder pig. So let's get serious. The second choice is Quality Road and his problem is the road's he's taken. He's the fastest horse in the field but, big but, he's never been asked to go around two turns.
Dunkirk, the morning line favorite, cost $3.7 million at auction. He didn't run as a 2-year-old, finally coming to the races two months ago. He overcame troubled trips in his only two races but went on to win by plenty. His problem: The last horse to win the Kentucky Derby without racing as a 2-year-old was the magnificent-looking Apollo. I'm guessing magnificent, since he won his roses in 1882.
Dunkirk must win Saturday - no kidding around, must - if he wants to reach the starting gate at Churchill Downs. He's run only in allowance races. And if too many horses enter the Derby, and they always do, the first 20 are selected on the basis of money won in stakes races, like today's $750,000 Grade I Derby. There isn't enough time to make another start.