The $750,000 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on Saturday afforded 4/5 favorite Greatest Honour the opportunity to lock up the top spot in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.
Coming into the 100-40-20-10 prep race, the Claude McGaughey III colt had accumulated 60 points after winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes, also at Gulfstream on February 27.
Instead, Known Agenda - 11/2 shot - burst out of the pack to make a spirited stretch run to pull away from 12/1 Soup and Sandwich. The victory also secured him a spot in the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 1.
Greatest Honour didn't appear to be pushed by jockey Jose Ortiz as he moved up throughout the race but settled for a comfortable third-place finish.
This was the last Kentucky Derby prep race at Gulfstream Park. There are now just four more 100-40-20-10 races on the schedule.
Three will take place on April 3, with the Arkansas Derby completing the Championship Series the following Saturday. That will represent the last opportunity for horses to pick up qualifying points to gain an invitation to the Kentucky Derby.
In similar fashion to odds-on favorite Mandaloun, who finished sixth in the Louisiana Derby a week earlier, Greatest Honour's jockey didn't seem intent on running to the front.
With the chance at a Triple Crown, it's not surprising that owners and trainers would rather save their horses for the once-in-a-lifetime opportunity than spoil their chances with a tough prep contest.
Big win for Known Agenda
Known Agenda came into the race with just two qualifying points, so saving him for the future wasn't an option. A second-place finish might have been enough, but the horse seemed to have plenty of energy once he got to the front.
For second-place finisher Soup and Sandwich, the 40 points are likely to be enough for a Kentucky Derby invitation, based on the past five years of history.
One of the favorites at 5/1, Collaborate couldn't hang on to his third-place position at the ¾-mile pole and, as predicted in this space, wasn't up to the challenge of stepping up in class and distance. Those odds just seemed too generous for an entry with such a limited body of work.
For winning, Known Agenda pulled down $437,100 for trainer Todd Pletcher, who is a regular at the Kentucky Derby and this year will be no exception with his horse's 102 total qualifying points. He paid $12.80, $6.60 and $3.20 for the win.
Second-place Soup and Sandwich won $161,000 and paid $8.60 and $3.80. For his lackluster run to third, Greatest Honour earned a payday of $70,500 and paid a paltry $2.10 on the show bet.
Fourth-place finisher Nova Rags garnered 10 now meaningless qualifying points, won $35,250 and finished out of the betting money at 11/1 odds.
Attention will now turn to the Blue Grass Stakes, the Wood Memorial and the Santa Anita Derby on April 3, all awarding 100-40-20-10 points.Which horses are in and which are out will be very close to taking shape by the end of the day on Saturday.