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Las Vegas, NV - The Road to the Kentucky Derby is in the home stretch - just one qualifying race remains after the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland were contested over the weekend. Each of those races awarded 100-40-20-10 points for the first through fourth place finishers. The remaining race on the Road is the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland April 19 - it allows just a 10-4-2-1 points breakdown for the first through fourth place finishers. The top 20 is basically set - the possibility exists that one, maybe two colts sitting outside the top 20 at this point may do enough to qualify for the Run For the Roses - but it is certainly a long shot.
Needless to say, the heavy lifting has been done - the top 20 in the standings right now will likely be the 20 starters we see May 3. Let's take a look.
Art Sherman trained California Chrome still sits in first place overall with two wins along the Road - in the San Felipe to go along with the Santa Anita Derby. He 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 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. Dance With Fate off a slight upset win in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes on the weekend has entered the top 3 with 108 points with Wicked Strong next with 102 points - he had a win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct to go along with a third in the Remsen November 30.
Danza, thanks to a shocking win in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park this past Saturday has joined 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 with 100 points. Each is sitting pretty with a few weeks to go before the Run for the Roses, guaranteed a spot in the Derby. Bob Baffert trained Hoppertunity is eighth with 95 points thanks to a second place finish in the Santa Anita Derby while Intense Holiday is in ninth 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. Wildcat Red rounds out the top 10 with 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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Todd Pletcher trained We Miss Artie should be in the mix as well on May 3 - he is eleventh with 60 points and Bob Baffert trained Chitu also appears safe 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 - sixteenth place after his win in the Tampa Bay Derby March 8 - they too are assured a spot in the Derby. There are just two more colts safe in the standings - Michael Maker's General A Rod, after a third in the Florida Derby and a second in the Fountain of Youth sits in seventeenth tied with Dale Romans pupil Medal Count with 40 points thanks to the latter's second place finish this past weekend in the Blue Grass Stakes. Each have 40 points - out of reach for any of the horses currently on the outside looking in.
After General A Rod and Medal Count, it becomes very interesting - there are nine horses battling for two spots. John Sadler's Candy Boy is in the driver's seat of that pursuit with 30 points - he looks as though he will gain one of the two final spots but Kiaran McLaughlin trained Cairo Prince and Gary Contessa's Uncle Sigh are tied with 24 points and occupy twentieth and twenty-first place - each are definitely on the bubble with one race to go in qualification.
A total of six currently have 20 points in the standings and with a good result this weekend in the Lexington Stakes could leap-frog any one of the colts sitting in nineteenth, twentieth of twenty-first place. They include Todd Pletcher trained Vincermos who had a chance this past weekend in the Blue Grass Stakes, Harry's Holiday who was also failed to fire in the Blue Grass, Commanding Curve, third place finisher in the Blue Grass Stakes Pablo Del Monte, Bayern and Social Inclusion.
Some names that are now officially out of contention include Big Bazinga, Coastline, Strong Mandate, In Trouble, Noble Moon, Cleburne, Commissioner, Schivarelli, Conquest Titan, Casiguapo and Asserting Bear.
As previously mentioned there is one final chance for potential qualification into the Run for the Roses and it comes this weekend - in the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland. The race offers 10-4-2-1 points for first to third place meaning that only one or two of the final qualification spots will be up for grabs. Stay tuned to offtrackbetting.com for that race preview and all of the hype leading up to the Derby May 3.
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