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HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – St. Elias Stable homebred Known Agenda charged ahead toward Louisville with an impressive victory in Saturday’s $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby Presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa (G1) at Gulfstream Park.
Known Agenda broke from post 5 under Irad Ortiz Jr. as the 5/1 third choice and settled into a mid-pack position as Nova Rags and Soup and Sandwich dueled through opening fractions of :23.43, :47.73, and 1:12.29.
Advancing in the far turn, Known Agenda tipped out near the 1/4 pole and made a three-wide bid by the top of the stretch. Reeling in the pacesetters, the Todd Pletcher trainee stretched his legs out impressively to win the 1 1/8-mile fast dirt route in 1:49.45 by 2 3/4 lengths.
“The instructions were to try and stay as close as I can without going too crazy and start working my way out and put the horse in the clear outside,” Ortiz Jr. said. “I saw a couple horses outside of me and I had to take a hold to go around, and I said it was too much, so I just followed the flow of the race. I had to go to the rail and it worked out great. When I took him out, he started rolling.”
Soup and Sandwich ran on well to take second by 3 lengths over Greatest Honour, the 4/5 favorite who was seeking to become the first horse to ever sweep all three Gulfstream Park prep races for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
“He broke a little slow, like he always does,” said Jose Ortiz, Greatest Honour’s jockey and Irad’s brother. “I tried to be aggressive, but I wasn’t fast enough to make it into a nice position, so I had to take him back and drop in. I had Known Agenda in front of me and I followed him the whole way. At the 3/8 pole, I kept following him. I felt like I was in contention at the 1/4 pole, but the winner ran a nice race. He was the best horse today, but we’ll turn the tables on them on Derby day, that’s for sure.”
Nova Rags, Collaborate, Southern Passage, Papetu, Spielberg, Quantum Leap, Jirafales, and Sigiloso completed the order of finish.
The Florida Derby is part of the Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby prep race season. Known Agenda earned 100 points for the win, with Soup and Sandwich receiving 40 for second, Greatest Honour 20 for third, and Nova Rags 10 for fourth.
Known Agenda’s win was his second straight over this course and distance, following a strong score against optional claimers last time out in his first start sporting blinkers. The Curlin colt’s record now stands at 6-3-1-1 with $541,700 earned.
“We were looking for a couple of things in that last race,” Pletcher said. “One, to see if blinkers made an improvement in his being a little more tactical, and secondly, we wanted to see how he handled the Gulfstream surface. I thought we got very good answers to both of those questions. The only thing was we were taking a fairly significant step back in class. It wasn’t an overwhelming field, but the way he did it, to win by 11 (lengths) anytime in a race like that, and Irad kind of wrapped up on him the last part, I thought it was not only an impressive race but a step in the right direction. It showed us that the blinkers helped and that he handled Gulfstream.”
Known Agenda returned $12.80 to win, $6.60 to place, and $3.20 to show. Soup and Sandwich brought back $8.60 to place and $3.80 to show. Greatest Honour paid $2.10 to show.
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