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Florida Derby Preview: Greatest Honour Tries For Sweep
Greatest Honour winning the Fountain of Youth (Credit: Coglianese Photos)

Florida Derby Preview: Greatest Honour Tries For Sweep

HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – Shug McGaughey trainee Greatest Honour will try to become the first horse to ever sweep the Gulfstream Park’s Kentucky Derby (G1) prep series in this Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1) that awards 100-40-20-10 Kentucky Derby points to the top four finishers.

The Florida Derby carries tremendous Triple Crown trail importance: from the first 69 editions, a total of 46 starters in eventually captured 61 Triple Crown events, which includes 25 victors of the Kentucky Derby, 19 Preakness (G1) winners, and 17 Belmont (G1) champs.

The main event is part of a 14-race card featuring a total of 10 stakes races, including the $200,000 Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) for 3-year-old fillies awarding the same number of points on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks (G1).

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6/5 morning line favoritism belongs to Greatest Honour, who impressively won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) and Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) earlier this season. He’s near the top of seemingly everyone’s Kentucky Derby contenders lists and drew post 7 for the event, with Jose Ortiz aboard for the ride yet again.

He’ll be challenged by the Bob Baffert-trained Spielberg, who ships to Gulfstream Park after finishing second last time out in the Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park. Even though he lost, he showed improvement compared to his Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) effort 2 starts back and won the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) as a 2-year-old. He’ll break from post 10 with Javier Castellano up for the ride.

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The newest shooter to the group is Collaborate, who dominated his rivals last time out in a maiden special weight over this track. His connections announced immediately after the race that the plan was to come here. Tyler Gaffalione will be back aboard for the ride, breaking from post 9.

The full field from the rail out: Nova Rags, Quantum Leap, Jirafales, Southern Passage, Known Agenda, Sigiloso, Greatest Honour, Soup and Sandwich, Collaborate, Spielberg, and Papetu.

Top Choice

#9 Collaborate – Even though he wasn’t in the main event, his maiden special weight win was the most impressive we saw from a 3-year-old on Fountain of Youth day. He dominated rivals by 12 1/2 lengths but gets thrown into the deep end of the pool quickly, which is the biggest worry. This is a tough task for anyone’s first time facing winners and routing, but he should be up for the challenge and the price is right if he goes off anywhere close to his 6/1 morning line odds.

Horses to Use in Multi-Race Wagers

#7 Greatest Honour – We understand if you want to play this horse to win; he’s the deserving favorite, but 6/5 is a little too short for us to put him on top. He’s been flawless this year but has yet to run a flashy speed figure. Last time out, he looked done on the turn of the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) but still closed to win by 1 1/2 lengths. Did he kick into high gear, or was that just a matter of those in front of him slowing down significantly? A speed horse with decent staying power might be tough for him to run down, so we’re going to try to beat him on top.

#5 Known Agenda – We’ll see if this Todd Pletcher trainee can put it all together after winning last time out over this track and distance against allowance foes. His 11-length win was impressive, but he did it while using race-day Lasix, something he won’t have again here. He was never a threat to win either previous try against similar caliber, either, but he showed a lot of flash last time out and could be dangerous here with a similar effort.

Exotic Plays

#10 Spielberg – Which Spielberg will show up Saturday? His inconsistency makes him hard to trust, but he finished a very strong second in the Southwest. If he can run like that again, then he’ll have a chance against this field, plus it’s never smart to fade Baffert in major Derby prep races. It’s amazing to think that THIS horse will be Baffert’s first Florida Derby starter.

#1 Nova Rags – This son of Curlin showed signs of life this season at Tampa Bay Downs, winning the Pasco Stakes and finishing second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3). Neither of those fields look strong in hindsight, but this race doesn’t look much different, so he could hit the board with the right circumstances.

Party Crashers

#8 Soup and Sandwich – This one intrigues me quite a bit, especially at odds of 20/1. He broke his maiden over this track impressively before shipping to Tampa Bay Downs, where he took care of allowance company. He green down the lane in each of those starts, but if he gets that ironed out, then he might have a chance to make some noise as an up-and-comer against several challengers who might have already hit their ceilings.

Throw Outs

#11 Papetu – Maybe we’re not giving this horse enough respect after he finished third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) last time out, but the waters get even deeper here and we prefer others just a bit more.

#6 Sigiloso – If turf racing isn’t going your way, switch to dirt! That’s what Antonio Sano will do with this son of Khozan, and while it’s likely that the strategy won’t work, this field is weak enough to take a swing and hope for the best.

#2 Quantum Leap – He broke his maiden going this distance last time out but must improve significantly here to make an impact. We’ll take a wait-and-see approach with him.

#3 Jirafales – At this point, we’ve seen enough of him to know that he isn’t up to this level of competition. He was no factor when facing Greatest Honour in each of his last 2 starts.

#4 Southern Passage – Is Dale Romans just taking a shot and hoping for good things to happen? He’s without a Kentucky Derby horse at the moment, which has to be killing him, but this one making much noise here would be a surprise.

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