D. J. Stables LLC and Robert Cotran’s Florida-bred Hades has been assigned 7-2 odds on the morning line for the $1,000,000 Curlin Florida Derby (Grade 1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale at Xalapa to be run at Gulfstream Park next Saturday.

Repole Stable Inc.’s Fierceness, the 2023 FanDuel Breeders’ Cup (G1) winner and champion 2-year-old male, is the program favorite at 8-5.

Hades, a bay son of Ocala Stud stallion Awesome Slew and the winner of the Grade 3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park on Feb. 3, will lead a contingent of three Florida-breds entered to run in the 73rd running of the nine-furlong Florida Derby including Brad Grady and David Grund’s Seminole Chief and Iris Cotto’s Iris’s Dream.

Seminole Chief and Iris’s Dream have both been assigned 30-1 morning line odds.

Hades, Seminole Chief and Iris’s Dream will be running for an additional $100,000 in Florida-bred bonus money to be paid to the top three finishers on a 60%-30%-20% basis. All three will also be running for $100,000 in Florida Sire Stakes bonus money to be paid to the top three finishers on the same schedule. Both bonuses are presented by the Florida Thoroughbred Breeders’ and Owners’ Association.

The Florida Derby offers 200 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (G1) to the top five finisher on a 100-50-25-15-10 schedule. Fifteen Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby including Florida-breds Needles (1956), Carry Back (1961) and Unbridled (1990).

Other Florida-bred winners of the Florida Derby include In Reality (1967), Top Knight (1969), My Dad George (1970), Royal and Regal (1973), Honest Pleasure (1976), Ruthie’s Native (1977, Div. 2), Timely Writer (1982), Holy Bull (1994), Captain Bodgit (1997) and Hal’s Hope (2000).

Trained by Joe Orseno, Hades is undefeated in three starts after winning a $50,000 maiden claiming at Gulfstream on Dec. 9 and dominating a state-bred allowance by eight lengths at Gulfstream on Dec. 31.

Hades is out of The Shady Lady, by Quality Road and has earned $225,000 in his three starts. The bay gelding was a $130,000 purchase by Leonard Green’s D.J. Stable at last year’s Ocala Breeders’ Sales Spring Sale where he was consigned by Ocala Stud.

Paco Lopez will ride Hades from post two.

Bred by Ocala Stud, Joseph M. O’Farrell III, David O’Farrell, et al., Hades worked four furlongs in :50.21 Friday at Gulfstream Park in his final preparation for the Florida Derby.

“[Hades] has exceeded my expectations,” Orseno said Friday after the breeze. “Even with today’s last breeze going into the Florida Derby. He did everything perfect. He just handles himself very professional. He gets things easily where other horses struggle.”

Seminole Chief has won three of five career starts including a half-length victory in the $300,000 FTBOA Florida Sire Stakes In Reality at Gulfstream in December and most recently a first condition, $75,000 optional claiming moved from the turf to the Gulfstream synthetic course on March 9.

Seminole Chief is trained by Jack Sisterson and was bred by Brad and Misty Grady. He is by Girvin out of Secret Song, by Dunkirk and was an $80,000 purchase by HND Bloodstock at the 2023 OBS June Sale where he was consigned by Bobby Dodd.

Seminole Chief has drawn post eight and Joel Rosario has the mount.

Iris’s Dream has won one of three starts including a seven-and-a-half-length romp against $50,000 maiden claimers going a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf on Feb. 29 in his last out.

By Jess’s Dream out of Smart Kiara, by Lion Heart, Iris’s Dream was bred by Iris Y. Cotto and is trained by Cheryl Winebaugh.

Iris’s Dream has the outside post 11 and Jorge Ruiz will ride.

Others set for the Florida Derby are Frankie’s Empire with jockey Miguel Vasquez, Bail Us Out and rider Irad Ortiz Jr., Grand Mo the First with Emisael Jaramillo aboard, Real Macho will carry Javier Castellano, Le Dom Bro with Edwin Gonzalez in the saddle, Catalytic has Julien Leparoux named to ride, Conquest Warrior and jockey Jose Ortiz and John Velasquez rides Fierceness.

Return to the March 23 issue of Wire to Wire