Wednesday, March 24, 2021
OLDSMAR - Nova Rags, who won the Pasco Stakes on Jan. 16 at Tampa Bay Downs and finished second three weeks later in the Gr. III Sam F. Davis Stakes, and Feb. 24 Oldsmar allowance/optional claiming winner Soup and Sandwich have been entered in Saturday’s $750,000 Curlin Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park.
The 11-horse field is headed by Greatest Honour, who won the Gr. II Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 27 at Gulfstream in his most recent start.
The Florida Derby is the 14th race on a card that will be simulcast by Tampa Bay Downs in its entiret
Bill Mott, who trains Nova Rags for breeder-owner Michael Shanley, told reporters he thinks the colt deserves a c hance to prove he belongs on the Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve trail. Junior Alvarado is the jockey.
“It’s a big race worth 100 points (to the winner in the ‘Road to the Kentucky Derby’ standings),” Mott said. “If he would qualify for the Kentucky Derby, then we’d have to consider it, but this is the race that’s going to tell us what we’re going to do with him.”
Soup and Sandwich is a Florida-bred son of Into Mischief bred by Charlotte C. Weber’s Live Oak Stud. The colt races for her Live Oak Plantation and is trained by Mark Casse, who won the Gr. II Lambholm South Tampa Bay Derby with Helium.
Soup and Sandwich earned his second victory in two starts in a mile-and-40-yard allowance/optional claiming race here in a time of 1:39.65. John Velazquez picks up the mount.
Another Florida Derby entrant sporting Tampa Bay Downs form is Known Agenda, who finished fifth in the Sam F. Davis. The Todd Pletcher-trainee rebounded for an 11-length victory in a Feb. 26 allowance/optional claiming race at Gulfstream to earn Saturday’s opportunity.
Pletcher has won the Florida Derby in four of the last seven years, including the 2017 running with Always Dreaming, who broke his maiden at Tampa Bay Downs that year en route to Florida Derby and Kentucky Derby triumphs.
Nova Rags drew the No. 1 post position for the race, with Soup and Sandwich breaking from the No. 8 post and Greatest Honour and Jose Ortiz starting from the No. 7 position. Known Agenda and Irad Ortiz, Jr., will start from the No. 5 post.
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