OTB Race Previews
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Las Vegas, NV - The Road to the Kentucky Derby got a little more interesting this past weekend as qualifying races took place on both coasts - the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct and the Santa Anita Derby in California both awarded 100-4-20-10 points for the first to fourth place finishers. A new favorite emerged in the Run for the Roses and a new contender showed unforeseen promise as we get nearer to May 3. Three races remain in which Derby hopefuls can gather the necessary points to qualify for the May 3 Classic. The Arkansas Derby comes our way this weekend from Oaklawn Park as does the Blue Grass Stakes from Keeneland - both offer the last two chances for hopefuls to earn 100 points for first, 40 points for second and 20 points for third. One final chance for horses on the bubble comes at Keeneland when the Lexington Stakes will award 10-4-2-1 points for first to fourth on April 19. Here is the updated with just two more Championship series races to go.
Art Sherman trained California Chrome made quite a statement with a dominant win this past weekend in the Santa Anita Derby. He now has two wins along the Road and after a victory in the San Felipe to go along with the Santa Anita Derby - he leads the standings with 150 points. In turn, California Chrome will enter the Run for the Roses as one of the favorites for sure. Mike Maker's Vicar's In Trouble, thanks to a win in the Louisiana Derby on the weekend, sits in second with 120 points. He also had a win in the Lecomte Stakes January 18 and a third in the Risen Star February 22. Wicked Strong is next with 102 points - he had a win this past weekend in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct to go along with a third in the Remsen November 30.
There are two colts with 100 points - they are all-but-guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby. Rick Violette trained Samraat off a second place finish in the Wood Memorial on Saturday and Todd Pletcher pupil Constitution thanks to a win in the Florida Derby March 29 are each sitting pretty with less than a month to go before the Run for the Roses. Bob Baffert trained Hoppertunity now has 95 points thanks to a second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby Saturday, Intense Holiday is in seventh with 93 points after his second place finish March 29 in the Louisiana Derby and a win in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds February 22, and Wildcat Red has 90 points because of a second in the Florida Derby March 29 and a win in the Fountain of Youth February 22.
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There is a fairly substantial drop-off after Wildcat Red in the standings - Todd Pletcher trained We Miss Artie sits in ninth place with 60 points and Bob Baffert trained Chitu rounds out the top 10 with 54 points. Bob Baffert's Midnight Hawk has 52 points after hitting the board in four Road to the Kentucky Derby points races and H. Graham Motion trainee Ring Weekend has 50 points - 12th place after his win in the Tampa Bay Derby March 8.
Steve Asmussen trained Tapiture is next with 42 points, Michael Maker pupil General A Rod is fourteenth with 40 points and Albano is next with 34 qualifying points. Candy Boy sits in sixteenth place with 30 points while Cairo Prince and Uncle Sigh are tied with 24 points in the standings. Vincermos, Harry's Holiday, Commanding Curve, and Social Inclusion are currently the colts on the bubble - each have 20 points and occupy nineteenth to twenty-second spot in the standings.
Currently on the outside looking in are names like Ride On Curlin, Kristo, Mark Casse's Coastline, Tamarando, Strong Mandate, Rise Up, Giovanni Boldini, In Trouble, Noble Moon, Cleburne, Commissioner, Schivarelli, Dublin, Conquest Titan, Dance With Fate and a host of others that all have single-digit points totals up until this point. Each will need a first or second place finish this weekend or face the reality of watching the Derby from the sidelines.
The Road hasn't come to an end quite yet - there are still two huge qualification races to come as well as that minor wild-card race that will likely determine the last two or three qualifiers into the Run for the Roses. Keep it locked right here to offtrackbetting.com for the ever-changing points updates and for all the pertinent previews for the qualifying races leading up to the Big Race in May.