From the Gulfstream Park Media Team:
St. Elias Stable’s Known Agenda received a perfect trip from Irad Ortiz Jr. to win Saturday’s $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n’ Dale Farms at Xalapa, providing the defending three-time Eclipse Award-winning rider with his record-breaking 138th victory of the 2020-2021 Championship Meet at Gulfstream Park.
Known Agenda ($12.80) also provided his trainer Todd Pletcher with his record sixth success in the Florida Derby while also earning a stall in the starting gate in this year’s Kentucky Derby.
Todd Pletcher — Known Agenda (1st):
“It has so many great meanings but for me what is so special about this is to win it for St. Elias with a horse that they bred,” Pletcher said. “I know how much that means to them, that makes it a little more extra special for us.”
“I was really pleased with the progress he was making up the backside because one of the things we were a little bit worried about was if he got stuck inside, he didn’t seem to handle that in the Remsen [last fall] very well. A lot of horses are more confident when they’re outside in the clear,” Pletcher said. “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.”
“We were looking for a couple of things in that last race. One, to see if blinkers made an improvement in his being a little more tactical and secondly, we wanted to see how he handled the Gulfstream surface. I thought we got very good answers to both of those questions,” Pletcher said. “The only thing was we were taking a fairly significant step back in class. It wasn’t an overwhelming field, but the way he did it, to win by 11 anytime in a race like that, and [jockey] Irad [Ortiz Jr.] kind of wrapped up on him the last part, I thought it was not only an impressive race but a step in the right direction. It showed us that the blinkers helped and that he handled Gulfstream.”
Shug McGaughey — Great Honour (3rd):
“I thought we were OK on the turn there and he just didn’t kick on the way I thought he would,” Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey said. “I thought he ran fine. I think the winner ran a huge race.”
McGaughey said that Greatest Honour will be pointed toward a start in the Kentucky Derby, for which he has 80 qualifying points.
“As of right now, yeah. We just have to see how he is,” he said. “He belongs, as long as he’s OK.”
Mark Casse — Soup and Sandwich (2nd):
“I was very pleased, especially if he ever learns what he’s doing. [Jockey] Johnny [Velazquez] said he had to fight with him a little. He stayed on his left lead all the way down the stretch. He’s like that in the morning, too,” Casse said. “The thing that will help him is it was a little difficult to ship him down from Palm Meadows. It got him a little worked up. He’ll run a lot better out of his stall at Churchill Downs.”
Irad Ortiz, Jr. — Known Agenda:
“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. 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,” said Ortiz after surpassing Luis Saez’s old record of 137 set during the 2017-2018 Championship Meet. “I had to go to the rail, and it worked out great. When I took him out he started rolling.”
Jose Ortiz — Greatest Honour:
“He broke a little slow like he always does. I tried to be aggressive but I wasn’t fast enough to make it into a nice position, so I had to take him back and drop in. Actually, I had Known Agenda in front of me and I followed him the whole way,” Ortiz said. “At the three-eighths pole I kept following him. I felt like I was in contention at the quarter-pole, but the winner ran a nice race. He was the best horse today, but we’ll turn the tables on them on Derby day, that’s for sure.”