Florida Derby — Race 14 (6:40 p.m. ET)
Greatest Honour will attempt a sweep of Gulfstream’s two-turn Kentucky Derby (G1) preps when he starts as a heavy favorite in Saturday’s $750,000 Florida Derby (G1). The Shug McGaughey-colt has been installed the 6-5 morning line favorite against 10 rivals over one lap of Gulfstream’s 1 1/8-mile oval.
Increasing distances have been kind to the son of Tapit during the South Florida winter season. Breaking his maiden the day after Christmas, Greatest Honour has built up his credentials further with strong tallies in both the Holy Bull (G3) and Fountain of Youth (G2) in his last two starts, and his early odds for the Florida Derby reflect the gap between him and the rest of the local contingent.
“He’s been a pleasure all winter. He’s never missed a beat. Things have sort of been the same. We just hope it continues,” McGaughey said.
“With his stride, I don’t think he’s a horse with a quick turn of foot, but when he gets going, he covers so much ground that he catches up in a hurry.”
Bob Baffert has sent Spielberg in from California, thus making the Grade 2-winning colt the first Florida Derby starter ever for the Hall of Fame trainer. A distant fourth in the Robert B. Lewis (G3) in his season debut, the Union Rags colt fared better last time when a clear second to champion Essential Quality in the Southwest (G3), although he was caught flat-footed at the start.
“He’s had a lot of races,” Baffert said of the eight-time starter. “Once in a while he’ll run a flat race. He’s doing well and I think he will like the mile and an eighth. He sort of comes running, but he’s got to ship well and behave himself. And he’s got to break well. He can’t break like he did the last time.”
The pace of the race figures to come from Collaborate, who broke his maiden by more than 12 lengths over a mile last time for Saffie Joseph Jr., or perhaps the Mark Casse-trained Soup and Sandwich, who’s two-for-two after a maiden and allowance win earlier this year.
Also among the field are a trio of colts that have tried other Derby preps. Nova Rags finished second by a length to stablemate Candy Man Rocket in the Sam F. Davis (G3) last out, while Known Agenda was fifth in that same race before taking a track-and-distance allowance over the Gulfstream strip. Papetu, who breaks from the far outside, finished a distant fourth in the Holy Bull and third in the Fountain of Youth, suggesting he’ll need to improve a number of lengths to catch Greatest Honour.
The Florida Derby will award Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the top four finishers.