Saturday's $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, which awards qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 scale, could see as many as four entries advance to the Kentucky Derby, with 6/5 favorite Greatest Honour already locked into the first race in the Triple Crown with 60 points.
If last week's Louisiana Derby is any indication, a victory by the winner of the Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth Stakes races at the same track isn't necessarily a sure thing. Mandaloun entered the 100-40-20-10 $1million Louisiana Derby as the favorite to repeat his performance in the 50-20-10-5 Risen Star Stakes a month earlier, with both races taking place at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans. The Brad Cox-trained colt's 52 points had already been enough to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but he never challenged and finished a distant sixth place to winner Hot Rod Charlie.
Who can challenge Greatest Honour?
Traditionally, the purse for the Florida Derby is $1million but has been decreased the past two years due to COVID-19 attendance limits. Barring any late scratches, 11 horses will be in the field for the 14th race on Saturday's card at Gulfstream. Four of the horses other than Greatest Honour entered in the race have recorded qualifying points.
Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has one fewer Kentucky Derby hopeful in his stable, with Life Is Good temporarily sidelined with an injury.
One of his remaining challengers, Spielberg, is second in the betting odds at 4/1. He's been uncharacteristically busy for a Baffert entry, with a record of 8-2-3-1, accumulating 17 qualifying points in the process.
A repeat of his second-place effort in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on February 27 will be enough to move onto Churchill Downs on May 1. Third place would most likely see him qualify as well but could also leave him on the bubble. Anything worse than that would leave him on the outside looking in.
Known Agenda is at 5/1 odds, probably a little better than the Todd Pletcher colt deserves, given that he has just two qualifying points. He disappointed with a fifth-place finish as the 3/2 favorite in the Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on February 6. After stepping back to an allowance race at Gulfstream on February 26, he dominated the field in an 11-length win.
Is Collaborate really that good?
A surprising entry is next at 6/1, with Collaborate making his stakes race debut after a 12-length victory where he broke his maiden at Gulfstream on February 27. The speedy colt will be stepping up in class and distance, running two turns for the first time. With such a limited body of work, it's tough to see him making a run for the win.
Nova Rags at 12/1 and Papetu at 15/1 both have qualifying points, with four and 11, respectively. Neither one has a prep race win, with Nova Rags' runner-up finish to Candy Man Rocket in the 10-4-2-1 Sam F. Davis Stakes the best either one has been able to manage. Nova Rags might be a good horse to take a flyer on for the second pick in the exacta.