OffTrackBetting.com - The 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby is in full swing as the best three year olds from around the world vie for a spot in North America's most prestigious race - the 143rd Kentucky Derby in May. The top 20 point getters from 35 designated races from around the world will get a chance to Run For the Roses in May.
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Points are awarded for the first to fourth place finishers in these designated races - starting with the 19 races for the Kentucky Derby Prep Season which we are winding down right now. These races offer a 10-4-2-1 point scale except for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile that offered 20-8-4-1 points to the first through fourth place finishers. Three races in the series were contested this past weekend - the Withers Stakes, the Holy Bull Stakes and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes provided a shake-up to the top 20.
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Things start to get a little more interesting later this month when the point allotments increase dramatically in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. The 15 contests during this phase offer a 50-20-10-5 point scale for nine of the races and 100-40-20-10 points for the biggest races including the UAE Derby, the Florida Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes, the Santa Anita Derby and the Arkansas Derby. This year introduced us to the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby, which will consist of two races - the Cattleya Sho for 2-year-olds and the Hyacinth which is coming up on the schedule. The winner of this series will claim one of the 20 starting spots in May.
So, with 17 races already in the books, who has an early line on one of the top 20 spots and beyond? Let's take a look.
Classic Empire, Mark Casse, 30 points - leads the way so far thanks to wins in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October and in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile - the 20 points he gained in that race are the biggest prize so far. This past weekend saw him deliver a bit of a dud however - a third in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream.
El Areeb, Cathal Lynch, 20 points - prevailed in the 1 mile 70 yards Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct January 2 and took the Withers Stakes this past weekend also on that track.
Gormley, John Shirreffs, 20 points - has two wins on the Road to the Derby so far - the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita and the Sham Stakes also on that track January 7.
Gunnevera, Antonio Sano, 14 points - gained 10 points with a win in the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot November 19 and got four points this past weekend with a second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park.
Practical Joke, Chad Brown, 14 points - won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park October 8 and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to gain his points
Uncontested, Wayne Catalano, 11 points - put his name on the radar with a win in the one mile Smarty Jones Stakes at Oaklawn Park January 16.
Lookin at Lee, Steve Asmussen, 10 points - finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and posted runner-up finishes in both the Breeders' Futurity and Iroquois Stakes so far to gain his points.
Irish War Cry, Graham Motion, 10 points won the Holy Bull Stakes this past weekend over names like Gunnevera and Classic Empire to put his name on the radar.
Mastery, Bob Baffert, 10 - has 10 points thanks to a win in the CashCall Futurity at Los Alamitos December 10
Mo Town, Tony Dutrow, 10 - won the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct November 26.
McCraken, Ian Wilkes, 10 - had a nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs November 26.
Guest Suite, Neil Howard, 10 - posted victory in the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Royal Mo, John Shirreffs, 10 - posted victory this past weekend in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes this past weekend at Santa Anita.
Irap, Doug O'Neill, 8
Wild Shot, Rusty Arnold II, 6
True Timber, Kiaran McLaughlin,6
Bonus Points, Todd Pletcher, 5
No Dozing, Arnaud Delicious, 5
Klimt, Art Sherman, 4
Hot Sean, Bob Baffert, 4
Dangerfield, Doug O'Neill, 4
Syndergaard, Todd Pletcher, 4
Petrov, Ron Moquette, 4
Untrapped, Steve Asmussen, 4
American Anthem, Bob Baffert, 4
There are 15 other horses that have at least one point so far on the Road to the Kentucky Derby - expect some of those names to move up during the fluid qualification period. Stay tuned right here for previews for all of the pertinent Road to the Derby race previews and updates on the Standings that will determine which 20 will have a shot at one of the most prestigious races in the world.