HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. -- Kiaran McLaughlin has the Kentucky Derby on his mind -- again.
The trainer who nearly won last year's Derby sends out Flashy Bull against undefeated favorite Barbaro and nine other 3-year-olds in today's $1 million Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The 1 1/8-mile race (USA, 5:42 p.m. post) is a major steppingstone to the Kentucky Derby May 6. While a win would be nice for Flashy Bull, it's not a necessity for the gray son of Holy Bull.
After all, maybe the colt is following the footsteps of another son of Holy Bull -- last year's Derby winner, Giacomo.
''I hope this gray horse, like Giacomo, keeps improving with each race and is headed for a big performance on the first Saturday in May," McLaughlin said yesterday.
Flashy Bull has just one victory on his résumé, but so did Giacomo before winning the Derby at 50-1 odds, beating McLaughlin's 71-1 shot Closing Argument by a half-length.
So far, Flashy Bull has yet to dazzle, although the colt has finished second four times and third once to go along with his maiden win back on Oct. 26.
In his most recent race, Flashy Bull ended up second in the Fountain of Youth despite leaving from the No. 10 post and enduring a wild stretch run in which Corinthian was DQ'd to third from first for impeding several horses. Barbaro, with Edgar Prado aboard, is the 8-5 top choice off his 4-for-4 record but drew the No. 10 post. Sharp Humor is the speed in the race and should be out front at the start.