DERBY BILL PICKS THE FLORIDA DERBY
With the UAE Derby in the books Saturday morning — Rebel’s Romance won — that leaves two races today worth 100 points each to the winner on the road to the Kentucky Derby. The Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park and Florida Derby at Gulfstream take place this evening, and Derby Bill Watson has thoughts.
Derby Bill’s thoughts:
- On to Monmouth Oaks for John Servis duoThe John Servis-trained pair of Midnight Obsession and Leader of the Band, second and third in the Delaware Oaks, will try it again in the Monmouth Oaks.
The 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, a Grade 1 event with a purse of $750,000, has attracted a field of 11, but all eyes likely will be on Greatest Honour. The Shug McGaughey-trained son of Tapit has won three straight, including the two preps en route to the Florida Derby.
Greatest Honour won the Grade 3 Holy Bull for fun — by five lengths — and then closed fast in the final furlong to take the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth. For the third straight contest, Jose Ortiz has the mount on a runner who’s 6-5 on the morning line.
But he won’t have Derby Bill’s money on him.
“He’ll be a big favorite, so I’m going to try to beat him,” says the former Colonial Downs on-air handicapper.
Instead, he’ll put his focus on Collaborate and on Known Agenda.
The former, a Saffie Joseph trainee, broke his maiden last time out by 12 lengths in his second career start. “Very impressive win,” says Derby Bill. He’s 6-1 on the morning line and will have Tyler Gaffalione in the irons. Though this will certainly be a big step up in class, Collaborate, an Into Mischief colt, thrashed his maiden rivals just the way a good horse should.
Bill also has some love for Known Agenda. The Curlin colt, trained by Todd Pletcher, has been well beaten in his two stakes tries, but last time out, getting Lasix for the first time and donning blinkers for the first time, he absolutely throttled an allowance field, winning off by 11 lengths.
He, like all the runners, will not receive Lasix today.
The Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks doesn’t have anywhere near the pedigree, prestige, or purse of the Florida Derby. But what it does offer is 100 points on the Kentucky Derby trail to the winner, same as the Gulfstream fixture. The tepid 3-1 favorite is Tarantino, who ran second behind Greatest Honour in the Holy Bull and fourth behind that same rival in the Fountain of Youth.
It’ll be that runner’s first try on the synthetic track at Turfway, and Derby Bill will look elsewhere.
Gretzky the Great led a long way in the Battaglia Memorial Stakes, the local prep for this contest, before settling for third, and while the top four from that contest all are back, Derby Bill likes this one to turn the tables. He’s a son of a Kentucky Derby winner, Nyquist, and is trained by Mark Casse.
“I’m not gong to go against Gretzky the Great,” he says. “I’m going to try Gretzky the Great and keep the roll going.”
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