1/ST BET enlisted XBTV.com workout analysts Jeff Siegel, Millie Ball and Michelle Yu to study the morning videos of top Florida Derby contenders and provide their feedback. You can see the workout videos for yourself at the links below and at XBTV.com, where the Triple Crown contenders all are categorized by region.
Watch the horse racing experts Jeff Siegel and Eddie Olczyk break down the Florida Derby field
1 – Nova Rags (12-1)
March 21, Payson Park, 3f, :38.60b
In company outside Hachure (same time) for W. Mott and was hard held and sharp as the proverbial tack, breaking off a length behind and then finishing about a half-length in front at the wire before galloping out eagerly around the clubhouse turn, splits of :12.3 and :38.3 before coasting out a half in :52.3 while remaining under a tight hold while drawing clear from his workmate. Form suggests he’ll need considerable improvement to be a major factor in the Florida Derby-G1; certainly is headed in the right direction.
Millie Ball: Nova Rags partnered Hachure, an 0-for-3 maiden of the same age in his final drill of the series. He sat very kindly off his stablemate and joined him from outside at the top at the Payson Park stretch. He appeared very focused, switched leads on cue and traveled with ease passing the wire in 38.60. He strikes me as a colt who’s in no immediate hurry and distance will be his ally.
5 – Known Agenda (5-1)
March 13, Palm Beach Downs, 4f, :49.80b
: Breezed from the three furlong pole all the way around to the six furlong pole In company outside Tallis (same time) for T. Pletcher, splits on our watches in :12.60, :36.40 (to the wire) and 1:01.60 for a full five furlongs before coasting out to the 5/8ths pole in 1:15.40, basically stride-for-stride throughout. Was under very mild hand coaxing while appearing plenty fit; certainly not a speed type but rather a one-pace grinder and probably needs every bit of nine furlongs (or more) to act with best in his division.
Millie Ball: Known Agenda had his head down in ‘endeavor mode,’ from almost the start of his work to the end, alongside stablemate and maiden special weight winner Sainthood. He was timed in 49.80 for the 4F. He gives me the impression, based off his work and ease in which he won his allowance, this son of Curlin will keep grinding for as long as you are asking. His dam was a Grade 1 winner at 9 furlongs also. Stamina is his strength.
7 – Greatest Honour (6/5)
March 21, Payson Park, 4f, :50.40b
This time breezed outside usual workmate Or’effice (4f, :50.60b) and was keener today than last time while proving clearly best under wraps, splits of :12.40, :38 flat and :50.60 from the 3/8ths pole to the 7/8 pole, moving fluidly and effortlessly throughout. Spot on for the Florida Derby-G1, suspect he’ll run at least as good as his previous two winning outings.
March 13, Payson Park, 4f, :50.20b
Jeff Siegel: Breezed inside Or’effice (same time) for C. McGaughey III and was slightly second best at the wire though never asked and merely galloping late (workmate hard held and clearly more eager), splits of :12 flat, :24.20 and :50.40 on our watches before galloping out with plenty left while ticking over for the Florida Derby two weeks hence. Usually a lazy sort in the a.m., probably will get a more serious sharpener next time. Watch Greatest Honour at Fountain of Youth Stakes Feb. 27
8 – Soup and Sandwich (20-1)
March 19, Palm Meadows, 4f, :48.40b
Super-easy solo move for this horse who was well within himself and never set down at all. Started off pedestrian and finished up as he pleased with his ears at half mast and the reins never moving. The grey only kicks himself into high gear it seems when he has company in the mornings, such as this team move with recent winner Wora.
9 – Collaborate (6-1)
March 14, Gulfstream Park, 4f, :47.00b
In company inside Sound Machine (same time) for S. Joseph, Jr., breaking off with workmate while hard held and dropping back after the opening quarter mile to be a length behind at the top, then responded to very light coaxing (workmate breezing) to finish stride-for-stride at the wire, splits of :12.40, :23.80 and :46.80 on our watches, sharp through the lane before galloping out in good style. Won his maiden on the lead but doesn’t necessarily strike us as a need-the-lead type and may settle into a stalker’s role depending upon how much pressure materializes inside him in the Florida Derby-G1. Watch Collaborate
maiden victory Feb. 27
10 – Spielberg (4-1)
March 21, Santa Anita, 4f, :59.40h
In blinkers, broke off outside Laurel River (same time) at the five-furlong pole and prompted workmate to the head of the lane, then was allowed to kick on through the stretch and responded in decent style while showing again tendency to lean in, splits of :12.20, :23.60, :35.20 and :59.40 to the wire (a neck in front of breezing ‘River) before continuing out under mild coaxing in 1:12.60 to the 7/8 for a full six furlongs on our watches. Plenty fit, always been a cut below the good ones, but should run his race in the Florida Derby-G1. Watch Spielberg
at Southwest Stakes 2nd, Feb. 27 Oaklawn
Michelle Yu: A pretty typical work for the blazed-faced chestnut; he was very keen to get underway and had to be held tight early. Once he turned for home, he cocked his head out as is customary and ranged up to his workmate, but wasn't able to go by despite the mate being under wraps. Stubbornly he puts his head in front late under urging and is clear by the gallop out. He is definitely a quirky horse, but you can see the screws getting tightened here.
March 13, Santa Anita, 4f, :48.20h
Jeff Siegel: In blinkers, in company outside Ginja (same time) for B. Baffert and did well enough under some late coaxing and leaning in a tad in the upper stretch, splits of :12.20 :24.20 and :48.20(slightly best), then was allowed to continue out to 7/8 pole in 1:01 flat for a full five furlongs. Never has been all the impressive in the morning, but he appears to be holding his form and showed some spark when a willing (though distant) runner-up to Essential Quality in the Southwest S.-G3 at Oaklawn Park in late February. May be most effective when held up early and allowed to run late.