The Grade 1 Florida Derby anchors the mandatory rainbow 6 payout on Saturday, and I think the pool will be about 7 million.
The derby is an interesting race this year and a good one from a wagering standpoint, in my opinion. Favorite Greatest Honour, while very legitimate has to again run on a track that usually does not favor his style, he has the points needed to get into the Kentucky Derby already and may not be cranked up as much as he can be for this. After all, Shug is patient and Saturday is not the end goal or a race he has to win. At a short price to close a pick 6, I just don’t know.
In addition to all of the above, the pace scenario doesn’t do Greatest Honour any favors as I see it. I think Collaborate can get the led by himself if he breaks well, and Tyler Gaffalione chooses that option as I expect he will. He can prove a tough one to run down Saturday, especially if the track plays to his style as it often does in Hallandale.
Another horse I find very intriguing, and I would call a must use for me, is Known Agenda. He actually beat Greatest Honour at this distance as a two-year-old, and I think he can do it again. His race at Tampa two back was much better than it looked. He didn’t like being down on the inside, and once he got wide in the stretch and in the clear, he went from looking like he would not run a step or beat a horse to coming like a freight train. The race was for all intents and purposes over, but he galloped out past the field and very strong. Todd Pletcher got him a nice confidence builder over the track after that, and I think he comes in here strong, and unlike Greatest Honour has to run big to earn a spot for the Run for the Roses. Todd gets them sharp for these preps, and Gulfstream has been kind to him for a long time now. I expect a big race here. I wish he got a better pace set up, but he can be closer than Greatest Honour.
I believe Spielberg may be Bob Baffert’s first Florida Derby starter. As much as I respect Bob, and Bob shipping in anywhere, I am not sold on this guy. I have yet to see anything to justify the hefty price tag he brought. Nova Rags comes in off two Tampa races, and I love horses who come off that track. These are much deeper waters, but it is Bill Mott, and I would say a punchers chance. Junior Alvarado is riding very good and has the rail, which I don’t feel hurts this guy.
It is not often you single a horse in a Grade 2 race who was beaten over 20 lengths in her last start. I am not sure I have ever done it. I may on Saturday. I like Millefeuille in the Florida Oaks. If the last drubbing were true and without a legit excuse, Mott could have opted for a non-winner of one at Keeneland where those races actually fill and go. The fact he comes back here looking for Kentucky Oaks points is a good sign, and her last work was excellent, in my opinion. For some insight into how trainer Jeff Metz and I look at and analyze workouts, you can watch or listen to this:
Analyzing Morning Workouts
There are not a lot of trainers I would trust to single in this scenario, but Bill Mott is certainly one of them.
If you are alive going into the last leg, I think it will be a fun race. You have a legit favorite who is a heckuva nice horse but who also has some legit reasons he could get beat and make that payoff all the juicier. Juicier payouts is what it is all about. Enjoy the races and take those swings!