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OffTrackBetting.com - The 2017 Road to the Kentucky Derby is in the books - the 35 designated points gathering races all over the globe have concluded and the top 20 have earned their way into the starting gates in America's most prestigious race - the 143rd Kentucky Derby in a couple of week's time. Some serious contenders have emerged during the Prep Season which 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. Those contenders flexed some muscle during the Kentucky Derby Championship series- the first phase offered a 50-20-10-5 point scale for nine of the races and the second portion awarded 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.
So, with all of the qualifying races in the books, who are your top 20 likely starters for the biggest race on North American soil? And which horses may draw in if one of the top 20 is unable to saddle up? Let's break it down.
Girvin, Joe Sharp, 150 points - was the winner in the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds February 25 where he earned 50 points and most recently won the G2 Louisiana Derby April 1 at Fair Grounds when he gained 100. He has three wins and a second place finish in his four career starts and is your top point getter this year.
Classic Empire, Mark Casse, 132 points - has wins in the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland in October, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and most recently won the G2 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park where he earned 100 qualifying points. He's also posted a third in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream. Classic Empire now has five wins and a third place finish in his seven career starts and is your second place finisher on "The Road".
Gormley, John Shirreffs, 125 points - has three wins on the Road to the Derby so far - the FrontRunner Stakes at Santa Anita, the Sham Stakes also on that track January 7 and most recently his biggest prize to date - the G1 Santa Anita Derby April 8. He's also had a disappointing fourth in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita March 11 along the way and has been a tad inconsistent. But when right Gormley is a threat for sure.
Irap, Doug O'Neill, 113 points - Doug O'Neill trained colt won the G2 Blue Grass Stakes last time out to earn 100 points and ended with 113 overall. Other results include a fourth in the G3 Sunland Derby and runner-up finishes in the G2 Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February and the G1 Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity.
Irish War Cry, Graham Motion, 110 points - has placed in four of five career starts and arrives off a career best effort - a win in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 8 where he gained 100 points. Other results include a third in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds February 25 - his GS debut and an ugly seventh in his other "Road" race - the G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes. Not sure what to make of Irish War Cry.
Thunder Snow, Saeed bin Suroor, 100 points - Irish bred colt was just OK at home but really caught fire when he shipped to Meydan where he won all three races including the Group 2 UAE Derby March 25 when he earned his 100 points and two other Group races on that track. UAE Derby winners don't typically thrive in this race but Thunder Snow could be different.
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Always Dreaming, Todd Pletcher, 100 points - has placed in all five career starts - three wins, a second and a third place finish. He enters on a terrific three race win streak - the best of which coming in the G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream April 1 for his 100 points. He is definitely peaking ahead of this weekend and could be a sneaky entry in the Derby.
Gunnevera, Antonio Sano, 84 points - gained 10 points with a win in the $1,000,000 Delta Downs Jackpot November 19 and four points February 4 with a second place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park. A victory March 4 provided a 50 point haul in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park and last time out he finished third in the Florida Derby April 1 - he was awarded 10 points for that finish.
Practical Joke, Chad Brown, 74 points - won the Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park October 8 and finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile to gain points. He earned 20 points on May 4 with a runner-up finish in the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream and received 40 more with a second place finish last time out in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes.
J Boys Echo, Dale Romans, 63 points - has been competitive in New York Prep races but really made a name for himself March 4 with a good win in a tough field in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct - a 50 point bonanza. He was fourth last time out in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland - a slight step back.
State of Honor, John Shirreffs, 62 points - finished a good second in the Tampa Bay Stakes March 11 and followed that with another second in the G1 Florida Derby April 1 - a race he gained 40 points. Other results include a third in the Sam F Davis Stakes on that track in February.
Conquest Mo Money, Miguel Hernandez, 60 points - won his first three starts and has looked good in his two "Road to the Kentucky Derby" starts - both runner-up finishes. Last time out was in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park April 15 and before that was in the G3 Sunland Derby in March.
Tapwrit, Todd Pletcher, 54 points - has become a name to watch on the Road. He won the Tampa Bay Derby March 17 and finished second in the Sam F. Davis Stakes on that track February 11. He has won three of his last four starts overall with that runner-up finish over that span.
Malagacy, Todd Pletcher, 50 points - has won three of his four career starts - his only blemish came last time out with a fifth in the G1 Arkansas Derby. Before that was a win in the G2 Rebel Stakes also at Oaklawn Park March 18 and two more wins to starts his career.
Hence, Steve Asmussen, 50 points - arrived on the radar with a nice win in the G3 Sunland derby March 26 after a seventh in his stakes debut - the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in February.
Fast and Accurate, Mike Maker, 50 points - has three wins and a second place finish in six career starts. He got all of his points last time out when he won the G3 Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park March 25. He won his previous two starts as well - one being the minor Sage of Monticello Stakes at Gulfstream in February.
McCraken, Ian Wilkes, 40 points - had a nice win in the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs November 26 and more recently won the G3 Sam F. Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs February 11 - he finished third last time out in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 8. He has four wins and a third place finish in his five career starts.
Battle of Midway, Jerry Hollendorfer, 40 points - has two wins, a second and a third place finish in four career starts. His best effort came last time out when he finished second in the G1 Santa Anita Derby April 8 - a race that awarded him 40 points. He also finished third in the G2 San Vicente Stakes on that track in February.
Patch, Todd Pletcher, 40 points - has three career starts and gained all of his qualifying points in his only stakes action to date - a second in the G2 Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds April 1.
Battalion Runner, Todd Pletcher, 40 points - is another colt that gained all of his points in one race when he claimed second in the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 8 - his stakes debut.
Untrapped, Steve Asmussen, 34 points - Finished second in the LeComte Stakes January 21 and gained 20 points thanks to another runner-up in the Risen Star Stakes - at Fair Grounds February 25. His other 10 points came from a third place finish in the G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Par March 18. He most recently fell back to earth with a sixth in the G1 Arkansas Derby on that track April 15 however.
So there you have it - the top 20 point getters on this year's "Road to the Kentucky Derby". Some may opt out leaving a spot or two for horses that finished outside the top 20. Here is a look at a few that could draw in.
Lookin At Lee, Steve Asmussen, 32 points
Sonneteer, Keith Desormeaux, 30 points
Royal Mo, John Shirreffs, 30 points
Local Hero, Steve Asmussen, 30 points
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