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Las Vegas, NV - The Road to the Kentucky Derby is in full swing as two and three year olds from around the world try to qualify for arguably the biggest race on the planet - the first Saturday in May at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
This past Monday saw the end of the Kentucky Derby Prep Season - a series of races that allowed 10-4-2-1 scale for the first to fourth place finishers. From now on things become a little bit more interesting as the Kentucky Derby Championship Series kicks off. The first leg includes eight races with a 50-20-10-5 scale. Races in this leg include the Risen Star at Fair Grounds, the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, the Gotham at Aqueduct, the Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs, the San Felipe at Santa Anita, the Rebel at Oaklawn, the Spiral at Turfway, and the Sunland Derby at Sunland Park. The second leg includes seven races with a 100-40-20-10 scale - 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 and the UAE Derby in Dubai.
There are two races in the weeks preceding the Kentucky Derby in which contenders can earn points on a 20-8-4-2 scale - this is the "Wild Card Round".
Some serious contenders have begun to emerge already as the Prep Series has come to a close. Let's take a peek.
Kentucky Derby Championship Series betting with OffTrackBetting.com
Nyquist, Doug O'Neill, 30 points - won again this past Monday in the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes at Santa Anita in record time - that race didn't offer up any qualifying points toward the Derby. He has been the most impressive horse on the Road so far with wins in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile ,the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes September 26 and the Del Mar Futurity September 7. He is undefeated in his six race career and made a believer out of a lot of folks on Monday.
Mor Spirit, Bob Baffert, 24 points - won the Robert B Lewis Stakes February 6 at Santa Anita and also posted victory in the Los Alamitos Futurity December 19. He also had a second in the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes November 28. Nor Spirit is a horse that is certainly peeking at the right time.
Mohaymen, Kiaran McLaughlin, 20 points - has won all four starts (three graded stakes) including the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park January 30, the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct November 28 and the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes on that same track November 4.
Sunny Ridge, Jason Servis, 18 points - had been sitting outside the top 20 before a nice win in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct January 30. Sunny Ridge has some work to do but proved last time out that he could be one to be reckoned with.
Exaggerator, Keith Desormeaux, 16 points - was at his best in last time out when he win the Grade 3 $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot November 21. He also had a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, a second in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity October 3 and a win in the Grade 2 Saratoga Special in August.
Flexibility, Chad Brown, 15 points - started 2016 with a good win in the Grade 3 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct January 2 and also had second place finishes in the Grade 2 Remsen Stakes November 28 and the Grade 2 Nashua Stakes November 4 - also at Aqueduct.
Brody's Cause, Dale Romans, 14 points - earned his points with a third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and a win in the Grade 1 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland October 3.
Greenpointcrusader, Dominick Schettino, 14 - got his 14 points thanks to a second place finish last time out in the Grade 2 Holy Bull Stakes January 30 and a win in the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park October 3 but was a somewhat disappointing seventh in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile against many of his future competitors.
Swipe, Keith Desormeaux, 12 - earned his points with a couple of respectable runner-up finishes - in the Breeders' Cup and the Grade 1 FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita September 26.
Mo Tom, Tom Amoss, 12 - won the Le Comte Stakes at Fair Grounds January 16 to get his name on the radar.
Collected, Bob Baffert, 11 - has two wins and a second place finish in three career starts including a victory in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes in his dirt debut as overwhelming favorite.
Suddenbreakingnews, Donnie Von Hemel, 10 - Burst on the scene with a win in the final Prep Series race - the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park February 15.
Frank Conversation, Doug O'Neill, 10 - won the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby February 13 - his second straight stakes win on that track. He looked OK before that but has certainly stepped up lately.
Airoforce, Mark Casse, 10 - has three wins and a second place finish in four career starts including a win in the Grade 1 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes last time out at Churchill Downs November 28 and a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.
Cocked and Loaded, Larry Rivelli, 10 - won the Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs September 12 but finished fifth last time out in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He has placed in just one of four graded stakes tries however.
Riker, Nick Gonzalez, 10 - has won four of five career starts including the 10 point Grade 3 Grey Stakes at Woodbine October 4 but was sixth in his biggest step up in competition - the Breeders' Cup Juvenile last time out.
Discreetness, Williams Fires, 10 - has two straight stakes wins - both ungraded stakes races. He gained his points with a win last time out in the Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park January 18.
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