Known Agenda posted a convincing win in Saturday’s $1 million Florida Derby (G1) in Gulfstream Park to join the Kentucky Derby picture, drawing away to a 2 3/4-length decision.
Irad Ortiz Jr. was up on the St. Elias Stable homebred for Todd Pletcher, who extended his record with a sixth Florida Derby win, and Known Agenda completed the 1 1/8-mile distance in 1:49.45.
Off as the 5-1 third choice among 11 runners, Known Agenda rated in fifth before launching his bid on the final turn. He powered his way to the lead entering the stretch, and drifted out while widening his advantage to the wire.
“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 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.
“I really like the way he handled the distance. He was better. I like that. He’s a classy horse. He’s not too crazy. You can do anything with him. He’s got a good mind.”
“A lot of horses are more confident when they’re outside in the clear,” said Pletcher, a two-time Kentucky Derby winner. “When he was making progress up the backside and picking off horses while he was inside and behind horses, I had a pretty good feeling at that point that he was running his race today and that it was a matter of we’re going to find out how good he is.”
Soup and Sandwich was forward from the start and finished a clear second at 12-1 in his stakes debut. Fountain of Youth S. (G2) and Holy Bull S. (G3) winner Greatest Honour experienced an inside trip most of the way and offered a mild rally from off the pace leaving the far turn, but the 4-5 favorite flattened out in the stretch and wound up a non-threatening third.
It was another 1 1/4 lengths to Nova Rage in fourth. Collaborate, Southern Passage, Papetu, Spielberg, Quantum Leap, Jirafales, and Sigiloso completed the order.
The Florida Derby was worth a total of 170 points as major qualifier in the Road to the Kentucky Derby series.
Runner-up in the Remsen S. (G2) last fall, Known Agenda notched his first stakes tally. The Curlin colt needed the 100-point prize to secure a Kentucky Derby berth after opening the year with a fifth in the Sam F. Davis S. (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs and an 11-length allowance victory at Gulfstream on Feb. 26.
Known Agenda added blinkers prior to the blowout allowance win.
“I thought it was not only an impressive race, but a step in the right direction,” Pletcher said of the equipment change. “It showed us that the blinkers helped and that he handled Gulfstream.”
Kentucky-bred Known Agenda improved his record to 6-3-1-1. He’s the first stakes winner out of the Grade 1-winning Byrama, an English-bred daughter of Byron.