Las Vegas, NV - The Road to the Kentucky Derby continued with two points gathering races this past weekend - the Wither Stakes from Aqueduct and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes from Santa Anita. Just two more races remain in the Prep Series that rewards 10-4-2-1 points for the first to fourth place finishers. After the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate and the Southwest Derby at Oaklawn Park next weekend the points values increase dramatically - 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 which includes seven races hand out 100-40-20-10 points from first to fourth. 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.
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So how have the standings changes after two important races over the weekend? Let's take a look at the early contenders to fill the top 20 spots in the biggest race on North American soil.
John Terranova trained El Kabeir vaulted to the top of the standings this past weekend after a second place finish in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct. Thanks to wins in the Jerome Stakes and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and his second he has 25 points. Mike Maker trained International Star is second with 21 points after wins in the Lecomte Stakes and Grey Stakes and a fourth in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and Bob Baffert's Dortmund is now third with 20 points after a win this past weekend in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes and a win in the Los Alamitos Futurity.
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In fourth place is Rick Violette trained Upstarts who recently won the Holy Bull Stakes, had a third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a second in the Champagne Stakes - he has 16 points. Next is Todd Pletcher's Carpe Diem who has just two starts on the Road to the Kentucky Derby so far - a second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile followed a win in the Breeders' Futurity in October.
There are three colts ties with 12 points - Keith Desormeaux trained Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red, D Wayne Lucas's Mr. Z and Ron Moquett pupil - Smarty Jones Stakes winner Far Right. Five horses sit tied with 10 points apiece - Jim Cassidy's Ocho Ocho Ocho thanks to a win in the Delta Downs Jackpot, Bob Baffert's highly regarded American Pharoah after his win in the FrontRunner Stakes, Todd Pletcher trained Champagne Stakes winner Daredevil, the winner of this past weekend's Wither Stakes Far From Over and Steve Asmussen trained Iroquois winner Lucky Player.
Rounding out the top 22 contenders with four points or more are:
- Frosted - Kiaran McLaughlin - 8
- Firing Line - Simon Callahan - 8
- Bold Conquest - Steve Asmussen - 6
- Rock Shandy - Peter Miller - 6
- Conquest Typhoon - Mark Casse - 4
- Bayerd - Steve Asmussen - 4
- Imperia - Kiaran McLaughlin - 4
- Nasa - John Servis - 4
- War Story - Tom Amoss -4
- Rock Shandy - Peter Miller - 4
Nine other hopefuls have at least two points so far and have some work to do in the next three months. Stay tuned to OffTrackBetting.com for frequent updates on the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings as well as previews for all of the important qualifying races on the schedule.