The Road to the Kentucky Derby Update December 9, 2014

Dave Bond | OTB Writer

Las Vegas, NV - It's December and the Road to the Kentucky Derby has begun - hard to believe. Nine points gathering races have already been run - starting with the Iroquois Stakes September 7 and ending with the Kentucky Jockey Club November 30. This year's Road's Prep Season Starts again January 2 with the Jerome and Sham Stakes and ends February 7 with the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park - then comes the Championship Series when the points values increase significantly.

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"Prep Season" races award 10 points to the winner, 4 to the runner-up, 2 to third and 1 to fourth. Point values escalate by 5X to 10X for the "Championship Series," which is comprised of the most meaningful springboard events within the 10-week run up to the Derby. Each race in the first leg of the "Championship Series" between Feb. 22-March 23 is worth 50 points to the winner, 20 to the runner-up, 10 to third and 5 to fourth. The seven lucrative races staged three-to-five weeks ahead of the Derby offer lofty points worth twice as much as the first leg: 100 to first, 40 to second, 20 to third and 10 to fourth.

Havana, a Todd Pletcher pupil leads with 14 points so far off a win October 15 in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont and a second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Honor Code from Shug McGaughey also has 14 points thanks to a win in the Grade 2 Remsen November 30 and a second in the Grade 1 Champagne behind Havana.

Steve Asmussen's Tapiture is third in the standings with 12 points - a win in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs November 30 followed a third in the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes September 7. The only other colt with multiple placings in Prep Races is Bond Holder, trained by Doug O'Neill who has 11 points thanks to a win in the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita September 28 and a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

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There are five colts tied with 10 points apiece thus far - Bob Baffert's Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner New Year's Day, Tom Amoss's Rise Up, winner of the Delta Downs Jackpot, Todd Pletcher's We Miss Artie who won the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, Grey Stakes at Woodbine winner and Josie Carroll trainee - Ami's Holiday and Dale Romans trained Cleburne who won the first Prep race of the year - the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs in September.

Casiguapo rounds out the top 10 with 5 points while there is a log jam at 4 points including Kiaran McLaughlin trained Cairo Prince, Anne Smith's Smarty's Echo, Chuck Peery trained Laddie Boy, Peter Eurton pupil Dance With Fate, Big Bazinga and Dale Romans trained Smart Cover.

Other horses worth mentioning are D. Wayne Lukas's Strong Mandate with 2 points, Jerry Hollendorfer's Tamarando with 2 points and Kenneth McPeek's Rankhasprivleges. As always, the standings are fluid - new contenders emerge almost every week as we get closer to the Run for the Roses.

Stay tuned to for frequent updates in the weeks and months leading up to the biggest race on North American Soil.

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