Florida Derby 2021 Preview: Known Agenda the price play

Todd Pletcher's Known Agenda is our pick in the G1 Florida Derby
Todd Pletcher's Known Agenda is our pick in the G1 Florida Derby

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Saturday at Gulfstream ends with the $750,000 Grade I Florida Derby, which could well have a significant impact on the Kentucky Derby. 11 have entered with Tapit colt Greatest Honour the short-priced favorite but a couple of horses stepping up to Graded Stakes level have garnered plenty of interest along with Bob Baffert's Spielberg.

Our Race Card is below along with our in-house handicappers ful preview of the 2021 Florida Derby

The G1 Florida Derby isn’t the best Kentucky Derby prep you’re going to see this year, but it does provide a rather compelling betting race given the potential vulnerability of the favorite Greatest Honour (#7). I actually don’t have much issue with anyone who wants to take Greatest Honour at a short price. The speed figures he’s earned are a little light, but he has won three straight races at Gulfstream and overcome some adverse scenarios in the process. That was especially true last out in the G2 Fountain of Youth when he seemed to stall behind runners around the far turn but kicked in strongly once angled out into the clear, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat. It was a pretty poor field he beat in the Fountain of Youth, but it’s not as though this one is much better. Still, while I believe he remains the best Derby prospect of this group, he runs the risk of getting caught trying to rally behind a tepid pace in this spot and I think the prudent move is to play against him as the favorite.

Collaborate (#9) is going to be a popular alternative to Greatest Honour and it’s easy to see why as he’s coming off a 12 ½-length maiden win that earned him a 90 Beyer Speed Figure, a number higher than anything Greatest Honour has put up. Despite his wide post, Collaborate should also be able to take advantage of the lack of speed in this race, and I expect him to be on or just off an easy pace. The needle is still pointing way up on this guy, but I’d probably be a little more bullish if he didn’t have to run without Lasix, which isn’t a strong move for Saffie Joseph, Jr., whose horses haven’t performed as well without it.

If you’re looking for a dominant last-out winner, I think the one you want is Known Agenda (#5), who smashed a field of winners by 11 lengths in his last start. Although that race came back even slower than what Greatest Honour and Collaborate have been running, I think the Beyer figure he earned is a bit light and he displayed a real affinity for this distance. What I like even more about the performance, however, is that he showed improved tactical speed with the addition of blinkers, and he should be able to work out an ideal, ground-saving trip from the second flight. Furthermore, Known Agenda goes out for the hyper-potent jockey/trainer combo of Irad Ortiz, Jr. and Todd Pletcher, two guys who have absolutely dominated the meet, yet he should still be a square price. If he can get a good position going into the first turn I think he’s a very likely upsetter and as such is my top pick.

Order of preference:  5-9-7-10

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