Las Vegas, NV - The Road to the Kentucky Derby is well under way - some of the 34 point-gathering races toward the Run for the Roses have already been run. In fact, there are just four races remaining in the Prep Series that rewards 10-4-2-1 points for the first to fourth place finishers. The points values increase dramatically after that - eight races in February and March will reward 50-20-10-5 points for first to fourth during the first leg of the Championship Series. The second leg of the Championship Series is when it gets very interesting - it includes seven races with a 100-40-20-10 scale. Those races include the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, the Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds, the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, the Santa Anita Derby at Santa Anita, the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, and the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland - along with the UAE Derby in Dubai. The "wild card" at the end of the series consists of one race and has a 10-4-2-1 scale.
So, without further adieu, let's take a look at the current standings after the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream was run this past weekend. Keep in mind that only the top 20 point-getters will earn a spot in North America's most prestigious race.
There is a tie atop the standings as we near the end of January - both of the top dogs are already considered Derby favorites. John Terranova trained El Kabeir, thanks to wins in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes in November and the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct January 3 to go along with a fourth in the Champagne Stakes in October and Mike Maker trainer International Star who won the Lecomte Stakes on January 17 and the Grey Stakes at Woodbine in October each sit at 21 points apiece. Rick Violette pupil Upstart is next with 16 points after a nice win this past weekend in the Holy Bull Stakes, a third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a second in the Champagne Stakes in October. Todd Pletcher trained Carpe Diem, after a second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a win in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October, and Peter Miller trained Calculator, thanks to a win in the Sham Stakes January 10 and a second in the FrontRunner Stakes in September, round out the top 5 with 14 points each.
Three Derby hopefuls have 12 points - Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Keith Desormeaux's Texas Red, D. Wayne Lukas trained Mr. Z and Ron Moquette pupil Far Right. Mr. Z had third place finishes in the Smarty Jones Stakes last week at Oaklawn Park as well as the Los Alamitos Futurity to go along with a second in the Delta Downs Jackpot. Far Right of Breeders' Futurity fame won the Smarty Jones Stakes last week.
Some of the best trainers in the land are represented in the next tier of contenders - each of the following has 10 points. Jim Cassidy trained Ocho Ocho Ocho thanks to a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot, Bob Baffert's impressive colt American Pharoah after a win in the FrontRunner Stakes in September, Todd Pletcher's Daredevil after a win in the Champagne Stakes in October, Bob Baffert trained Dortmumd because of a win in the Los Alamitos Futurity, Chad Brown trainee, Remsen Stakes winner Leave the Light On and Steve Asmussen pupil Lucky Prayer thanks to a win way back in September in the Iroquois Stakes.
The top 23 are rounded in the standings are as follows :
- Frosted - Kiaran McLaughlin - 8
- Bold Conquest - Steve Asmussen - 6
- Conquest Typhoon - Mark Casse - 4
- Bayerd - Steve Asmussen - 4
- Imperia - Kiaran McLaughlin - 4
- Firing Line - Simon Callahan - 4
- Nasa - John Servis - 4
- War Story - Tom Amoss -4
- Rock Shandy - Peter Miller - 4
There are 22 colts that have either 1 or two points toward qualifying - one good result will propel them into the top 20. OffTrackBetting.com is your place for Road to the Kentucky Derby points race updates as well as previews and picks for all things horse racing.