Geo Sette attacks the 2021 Florida Derby

March 25, 2021

Gulfstream Park Race 14 The Grade 1 The Curlin Florida Derby with a purse of $750,000, Post Time 6:40pm EST. 

Our Man Geo

The always intriguing top tier race at Gulfstream Park has produced numerous Kentucky Derby Champions in prior years. Inaugurated back in 1952, this race has become one of the staples in determining the successful path of three-year-olds in training. 

This 2021 version offers a field of 11 colts, and after my typical and extensive reconciliation of past performances, film study, workouts  and full pedigree analysis,   I have determined that 5 of these colts are genuine contenders, with the remaining 6 starters needing to perhaps run their career best race to hit the board. 

It should be a competitive race, all part of a fabulous 14 race card beginning at 11:30AM.  

Gulfstream Park

The following are my top 5 in precise best order of finish:

# 5  Known Agenda  

Overall I have been entirely impressed with this son of Curlin who was purchased for $175,000.00.  This colt has shown the type of versatility I like to see during his brief 5 race career.  He raced 3 times as a juvenile, debuting in a sprint, showing willingness even though he was forced wide. He then stretched out and graduated  at this same 9 furlong distance while beating the much regarded Greatest Honour who is likely to be the post time favorite in this race. He closed out his juvenile campaign running 3rd in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes in the slop at Aqueduct. It was a race where he had a poor trip and gained some valuable experience in a short field.   He made his three-year old debut in early February in the Grade 3 Sam F Davis stakes at Tampa. He was well supported at the window but clearly wasn’t at his best. He then made his first start over this Gulfstream Park strip dropping into an optional claimer,  and ran rather effortlessly to a smashing 11-length victory at this needed 9 panel distance. Irad Ortiz is back up for Todd Pletcher who has won this main event 5 times. This colt has the bloodlines to go even longer and I am fully expecting him to break tactically well,  and be in a good position vs a moderate to fast pace to mount a stalking presence as they turn for home.  We haven’t seen his best yet, and he just may be sitting on his best right now. 

# 8 Soup and Sandwich 

This grey colt did not race as a juvenile, making his debut as a three-year-old at the end of January. With just two races under his belt, he’s obviously lightly raced and is sacrificing experience to many others in the field.   Purchased for $225,000, this son of Into Mischief comes out of the widely successful Mark Casse barn.  He won his debut in a Florida State Bred MSW and then a month later made his 2nd start and was just as impressive where he broke well, stalked and won rather easily.  He comes into this race fresh and fit after some consistent morning breezes. He also benefits from what I believe is a fabulous rider switch to Hall of Famer Johnny V who has won this Florida Derby 5 times over the years.  I’m expecting this guy to demonstrate a nice turn of foot. Based on many colts coming into this race with quality starts under their belt, it’s very possible you may bet generous odds at the window, perhaps someone in the area greater than 12-1. Watch the board for indication. I’m fully expecting this colt to improve which can add great value to your exotic tickets.  

# 7 Greatest Honour   

It is quite evident that there’s much to like about this colt and his chances to win this race. At this point I would be shocked if he doesn’t end up being the post time favorite, probably in the area of even money or a few ticks less at 4:5.   He’s got 6 lifetime starts, hitting the board in all 6, while winning 3,  his last 3 in succession, including the Grade 3 Holy Bull and the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth.   His connections are fabulous with Jose Ortiz up for Shug McGaughey who won this race back in 2013 with Orb ( who then won the Kentucky Derby circling the field in the slop).  This guy is a son of Tapit, so I’m comfortable with the added distance.   Please keep in mind that in his only 9 furlong start he was defeated by my top choice, but he was certainly game in that race and lost by only a head.  This guy is definitely a horse for a course being that he’s 3 for 3 in the win column over this Gulfstream soil. You cannot argue with that type of success, although I have some concerns regarding his morning drills.  To me they are below par breezes where I was expecting much more efficient times.   A deserving favorite at the window and must be considered to be used in many of your wagers, but he presents very little betting value facing many colts who may be sitting on much improved races. 

# 10 Spielberg

This colt for various reasons could be the race wildcard,  so by default he’s got the ability to better my 4th place rating.  Saddled by the great Bob Baffert and shipping in from the West Coast, this colt carries some of the best overall race experience with 8 lifetime starts,  5 being as a juvenile. He was purchased for a robust $1,000,000.0. This son of Union Rags has the pedigree to take the distance rather easily. Expectations have been very high for him for obvious reasons. With that he’s been a disappointment and his race times haven’t been too flashy. He’s working well and has certainly not peaked yet. Now he makes his debut at Gulfstream Park and I feel he can be a capable stalker and perhaps present his best run in the final 1/8th of the race with a solid rider switch to the very consistent and reliable Javier Castellano.  I feel it will be most beneficial to watch his behavior during the post parade, and watch the board  to see the window action, or lack of for this Bob Baffert trained colt.  Don’t ignore completely, especially in your deeper gimmicks. 

# 9 Collaborate   

This guy is another late blooming colt. He did not race as a juvenile, making his debut in early February where he was well backed at the window but really never got going in a sprint over a sloppy track. 3 weeks later making his 2nd start and stretching out, he ran a big number and dominated an eleven horse field by a dozen lengths.  He seemed to run effortlessly, completely overmatching the field of MSW maidens.  Consistent rider  Tyler Gaffalione is up for Joseph Saffie Jr who knows how to win at Gulfstream Park. This colt was a $600,000.00 purchase, the son of Into Mischief and carries expectations to be very successful early on in his career.  I like his steady breezes for this race and there’s no reason why he shouldn’t improve.  For obvious reasons with the lack of overall experience, and facing winners for the first time, he has some obstacles to overcome, but I feel he wants the distance and if he hits the board you will be rewarded with a generous price. 

Lastly, just to provide a respectful mention,  # 1 Nova Rags, the son of Union Rags comes in for Bill Mott.  He would be my last of a throw in with an outside shot to emerge as a contender. I see talent with this guy during my film study,  just not sure he’s entirely ready yet, but I will fill some of my deeper gimmicks with him just in case he hits the board if others falter. 

Well, there you have it, 

It should be a great day of racing in Florida, and I want to thank you in advance for your readership and any comments you would like to make.  Let’s take this race down! Don’t forget the mandatory rainbow pick 6 payout, pool could hit 7 million.

Contributing Authors

Geo Sette

Geo serves multiple roles at Past the Wire. He is a columnist, handicapper, and analyst. Geo has been fascinated with the Sport of Kings since...

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@pastthewire As always brilliantly written and perfectly toned observations written by @jonathanstettin everyone in the industry needs to read this and view it as a call to action.

Christopher Fronczek @Christo17607782 View testimonials