Kentucky Derby Context: Known Agenda

April 18th, 2021 horse racing analyst James Scully attended his first Kentucky Derby in 1981. Along with a brief profile of this year’s contenders, he is providing some historical context.

A convincing winner of the Florida Derby (G1), Known Agenda tops an expected four-horse contingent for two-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Todd Pletcher.

The chestnut colt appears likely to be among the top three or four betting choices in the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1.

A St. Elias Stable homebred, Known Agenda has shown an affinity for longer distances, winning three of four starts at 1 1/8 miles, and his form improved with the addition of blinkers two starts back.

Known Agenda wasn’t a serious factor in his first two stakes attempts, but he romped by 11 lengths when adding blinkers for an entry-level allowance in late February. The son of Curlin registered career-best Brisnet Speed (101) and Late Pace (112) numbers when taking the Florida Derby by a widening 2 3/4-length margin a month later.

Irad Ortiz Jr. will ride in the Kentucky Derby.

With a victory, Known Agenda would give Curlin a Triple Crown sweep as a sire. The top stallion has produced winners of the Preakness (G1) (Exaggerator in 2016) and Belmont S. (G1) (Palace Malice in 2013). And he’s been close in the Kentucky Derby, with Exaggerator and Good Magic (2018) finishing second.

As a racehorse, Curlin created a Kentucky Derby buzz when arriving late on the scene in 2007. The unraced juvenile opened his racing career with a scintillating 12 3/4-length maiden win at Gulfstream Park in early February, and he was sold and transferred to trainer Steve Asmussen afterwards.

The well-built chestnut followed with a pair of dominant stakes wins at Oaklawn, taking the Rebel S. (G3) by 5 1/4 lengths and Arkansas Derby (G2) by 10 1/2 lengths.

Curlin rallied on the far turn of the Kentucky Derby, maneuvering his way through heavy traffic, but couldn’t overcome his inexperience in the 20-horse field, winding up a non-threatening third as the 5-1 second choice in the wagering.

He rebounded two weeks later, edging Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense by a head in the Preakness. Curlin won the first of two consecutive Horse of the Year titles when defeating Street Sense and Kentucky Derby runner-up Hard Spun in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1) that fall.

The Hall of Famer established a new North American earnings mark ($10,501,800) before being retired with a 16-11-2-2 career record.

Known Agenda will try to provide Curlin with a fitting career achievement.