In the Florida Derby all the human connections know that a prolonged, speed duel among two or more horses will mean something less than a victory for those running fastest first on the front-end. Yet, this is the widespread predictition of the racing community - those watching, wagering or trying to win $1 million race.
So if you, me and the lamppost all know that if the first three, quarter-mile fractional times look like :23, :47, 1:10 it will likely doom two or more horses vying for the lead, why would any jockey or trainer prescribe to such a suicide mission?
The first and foremost answers is: You can't change the stripes on a tiger or a horse that is fast and likes the front is very likely to quit on his jockey if he is restrained from running out of his horseshoes. So horses like The Factor and Flashpoint do what comes natural - run fast and either run their competition into quitting or have the ability to re-brake during a tiring stretch run to hold on.
While it appears Flashpoint will be let loose from the time the gates open and Soldat has trained to rate behind Flashpoint, sometimes horses have other ideas on where they'd like to run. As you may remember Flashpoint didn't take to the front last time out in winning the Hutchenson Stakes and Soldat has won from just off the pace running on the turf, so who knows, maybe Flashpoint rates off Soldat.
As I wrote in my Thorofan Handicapping Corner analysis on the Florida Derby, Stay Thirsty is the horse most likely to determine the outcome. Not to overstate, but Flashpoint is likely to be done after seven furlongs and Soldat may or may not rate as trained. Stay Thirsty is coming into the Florida Derby off an usual training move, adding blinkers after a win. (So unusual that his Trainer Todd Pletcher had to get permission from Gulfstream officials to add them.) Blinkers are added, in most instances, to keep a horse focused or to get him "into the race" earlier, following a loss. If Stay Thirsty does contest the early pace with his new shades, then a speed duel is likely and Dialed In may be picking up the pieces late.
For some reason, I doubt a duel and feel either two-time stakes winner, To Honor and Serve or Soldat benefit the most from a slower than expected pace and/or a pacesetter that is likely to quit in Flashpoint. I'm betting with this in mind and will either cash in or be wrong...and that is the beauty of horse racing - laying your opinions down. In this case, for whoever wants to read them.