OffTrackBetting.com - The 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby wrote another couple of chapters this past weekend as the best three year olds from around the world continue to seek 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 officially ended Monday with the Southwest Derby at Oaklawn Park. Those races offered 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. The El Camino Real Derby was also contested this past weekend which has allowed the Derby Standings to really start to take shape.
Things start to get a little more interesting from now on - the point allotments increase dramatically in the Kentucky Derby Championship Series. The 15 contests during this phase, starting with the Risen Star Stakes this upcoming weekend at Fair Grounds 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.
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So, with 19 races already in the books and the Derby Prep series behind us, who has an early line on one of the top 20 spots and beyond? Let's take a look.
Classic Empire, Mark Casse, 32 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. His last race was a bit of a disappointment - 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 February 4 also on that track.
McCraken, Ian Wilkes, 20 - had a nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs November 26 and most recently won the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs February 11. He is undefeated in four career starts and a name to watch going forward.
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 February 4 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.
Lookin at Lee, Steve Asmussen, 12 points - finished fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and posted runner-up finishes in both the Breeders' Futurity and Iroquois Stakes. He finished third February 20 in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park to gain two more points on the Road.
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.
Zakaroff, Steven Specht, 10 points - won the El Camino Real Derby February 18 at Golden Gate in upset fashion - at 48-1 odds.
One Liner, Todd Pletcher, 10 points - won the last of the Derby Prep races February 20 - the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park which rewarded him his 10 points.
Irish War Cry, Graham Motion, 10 points won the Holy Bull Stakes February 4 over names like Gunnevera and Classic Empire to put his name on the radar and is undefeated in three career starts so far.
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.
Guest Suite, Neil Howard, 10 - posted victory in the LeComte Stakes at Fair Grounds.
Royal Mo, John Shirreffs, 10 - posted victory February 4 in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes this past weekend at Santa Anita.
Petrov, Ron Moquett, 8
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
Tapwrit, Todd Pletcher, 4
Untrapped, Steve Asmussen, 4
American Anthem, Bob Baffert, 4
There are 18 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, especially now with the points values for each race significantly increased. 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.