HALLANDALE BEACH, FL – St. Elias Stable’s Known Agenda may have earned his way into the $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby (G1) presented by Hill ‘n Dale at Xalapa field Friday after romping to a 11-length victory in the Gulfstream Park’s featured Race 4, a 1 1/8-mile optional claiming allowance for 3-year-olds.
“We’ll talk about it with Mr. Viola and Mrs. Viola and their team,” said trainer Todd Pletcher, who trains the son of Curlin for Vinny and Teresa Viola’s St. Elias Stable. “We’ll talk about it, but I think he ran well enough today that it’s definitely in play.”
Known Agenda, who was sent to post as the 1-2 favorite in a field of six, rated off a solid early pace contested by Etched in Stone, Top Gun Tommy and Warrior in Chief during a half-mile in 47.89 seconds. Top Gun Tommy won the pace battle to take a clear lead into the stretch under Paco Lopez, but Known Agenda loomed large on the turn and quickly took charge at the top of the stretch and drew off under Irad Ortiz Jr.
The son of Curlin ran the Florida Derby distance of 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.47 while equipped with blinkers for the first time on the day before a field of 10 3-year-olds compete in the $300,000 Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth (G2), a key prep for the March 27 Florida Derby.
“Johnny [Velazquez] recommended blinkers last time. We just needed to get him a little more focused. We know he’s got a lot of talent. He’s shown it in the mornings and hints of it in the afternoon,” Pletcher said. “We’re just trying to get him a little more consistent. It looks like today the blinkers helped. He got into the race a little bit more and won impressively in the end.”
The St. Elias Stable’s homebred colt finished fifth in the Feb. 6 Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay Downs after racing far back early. In his prior start, he finished a distant third in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct after getting bumped at the start.
Known Agenda’s victory came two days after it was announced that Pletcher is among the 2021 National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame nominees in his first year of eligibility.
“It’s an honor to be nominated. I’m very thankful for all the opportunities we’ve had over the years,” Pletcher said. “We’ve been blessed to train a lot of great horses for a lot of great people and have a tremendous staff backing us up.”
Pletcher, who has saddled a record five Florida Derby winners, has saddled the winners of more than 5,000 races and $400 million in purses.
Gulfstream Park Press Release
Photo: Ryan Thompson, Coglianese Photos