Uncle Mo remains the Kentucky Derby favorite and leads the way with $1.26 million in graded stakes earnings. He’ll continue his march toward Churchill Downs with a final prep race in Saturday’s Grade I, $1 million Resorts World New York Casino Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. After Dialed In ($840,000), the Top 5 is rounded out by Louisiana Derby winner Pants On Fire ($623,000), Arkansas Derby hopeful J P’s Gusto ($541,500) and Soldat ($540,000), who finished a distant fifth in the Florida Derby.
“We’ll see how everything shakes down and if the $212,000 will be good enough to get in,” Shackleford’s trainer Dale Romans said Monday. “We won’t run him again. He’ll be pointed to the Derby and if doesn’t get in we’ll give the (May 21) Preakness a try.”
With less than five weeks before Kentucky Derby 137, the list remains influx. No. 5 Soldat, No. 10 To Honor and Serve and No. 15 Stay Thirsty failed to post serious threats in the Florida Derby and their future plans were not known at press time. No. 7 Master of Hounds, based in Ireland, remains a possible Derby starter but could remain overseas for the European classics. A final Derby decision about No. 12 Animal Kingdom, who has raced exclusively on turf and synthetic surfaces, won’t be made until the colt has a workout over Churchill Downs’ dirt oval. No. 13 Astrology’s plans haven’t been finalized either. And 10 open graded stakes races for 3-year-olds remain to be run with plenty of money up for grabs.
In addition to the Wood Memorial, this weekend’s races include Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby (1 1/8 miles) and Grade III, $300,000 TVG Illinois Derby (1 1/8 miles). Also, the Grade III, $100,000 Transylvania will be run Friday on opening day at Keeneland over 1 1/16 miles on turf and the Grade III, $200,000 Bay Shore, a seven-furlong sprint, is set for Saturday at Aqueduct, although neither is expected to produce a Derby starter.
The $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) has been restricted to 20 starters since 1975. Graded stakes earnings accumulated in races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.
The Kentucky Derby 137 Graded Stakes Earnings List only includes active 3-year-olds that were made eligible to the Triple Crown. Also, their connections have suggested that they’re considering a run in the 1 ¼-mile classic.
Twenty horses have entered the Derby every year since 2004, and 10 of the last 12 years. The 20th and final spot in the starting gate – a.k.a. “the bubble” horse – has varied year to year. Last year, it took a record $218,750 for eventual fourth-place finisher Make Music for Me to make the field. In 2009, it took only $55,500 for Nowhere to Hide to complete the 20-horse lineup. Over the last five years, the final horse to make the field has earned an average of $130,450 in graded stakes races.
Here’s the official Kentucky Derby 137 Graded Stakes Earnings Top 30 through April 3 (with last week’s ranking on the Graded Stakes Earnings List plus graded stakes earnings, the trainer of the horse and their likely next start):
Rank (Last Week) Horse, Graded Stakes Earnings, Trainer (Possible Next Race)
1. (1.) Uncle Mo, $1,260,000, Todd Pletcher (April 9 Wood Memorial)
2. (17.) Dialed In, $840,000, Nick Zito (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
3. (2.) Pants On Fire, $623,000, Kelly Breen (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
4. (3.) J P’s Gusto, $541,500, Joe Petalino (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
5. (4.) Soldat, $540,000, Kiaran McLaughlin (TBD)
6. (5.) Comma to the Top, $471,000, Peter Miller (April 9 Santa Anita Derby but May 7 Kentucky Derby doubtful)
7. (6.) Master of Hounds, $441,884, Aidan O’Brien (May 7 Kentucky Derby or European classics)
8. (7.) Twice the Appeal, $400,000, Jeff Bonde (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
9. (8.) Mucho Macho Man, $370,000, Kathy Ritvo (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
10. (14.) To Honor and Serve, $350,000 Bill Mott (TBD)
11. (9.) Decisive Moment, $301,000, Juan Arias (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
12. (10.) Animal Kingdom, $285,000, Graham Motion (final decision on May 7 Kentucky Derby after work over dirt)
13. (11.) Astrology, $281,893, Steve Asmussen (TBD)
14. (12.) The Factor, $270,000, Bob Baffert (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
15. (13.) Stay Thirsty, $260,000, Todd Pletcher (TBD)
16. (14.) Jaycito, $250,000, Bob Baffert (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
17. (16.) Santiva, $240,254, Eddie Kenneally (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
18. (17.) Watch Me Go, $232,500 Kathleen O’Connell (April 9 Illinois Derby or April 16 Arkansas Derby)
19. (19.) Premier Pegasus, $228,000, Myung Kwon Cho (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
20. (55.) Shackleford, $212,000, Dale Romans (May 7 Kentucky Derby or May 21 Preakness)
21. (20.) Nehro, $200,000, Steve Asmussen (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
22. (21.) Archarcharch, $180,000, Jinks Fires (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
23. (22.) Anthony’s Cross, $162,000, Eoin Harty (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
24. (23.) Brethren, $155,000, Todd Pletcher (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
25. (27.) Flashpoint, $140,000, Rick Dutrow Jr. (TBD)
26. (24.) Willcox Inn, $139,000, Mike Stidham (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
27. (25.) Silver Medallion, $124,334, Steve Asmussen (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
28. (40.) Travelin Man, $120,000, Todd Pletcher (April 30 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial)
29. (26.) Ruler On Ice, $96,000, Kelly Breen (April 30 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial)
30. (27.) Joes Blazing Aaron, $90,000, Mike Maker (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
The following is a list of “known” possible fields for upcoming Kentucky Derby prep races, based on published reports and other sources, as of the morning of Monday, April 4:
TRANSYLVANIA: Grade III, $100,000 Transylvania (1 1/16 miles on turf at Keeneland on Friday, April 8). Likely: Air Support, Barrington Road, Great Mills, Legendary King, Lil Bit ‘O Fun, Memen-IRE, Pluck (main goal is the French or Irish Guineas) and Ronin Dax (now trained by Dave Vance).
SANTA ANITA DERBY: Grade I, $1 million Santa Anita Derby (1 1/8 miles at Santa Anita on Saturday, April 9). Likely: Anthony’s Cross, Bench Points, Celestic Night, Comma to the Top (no plans to run in Kentucky Derby), Indian Winter, Jaycito (Baffert said he’s likely going to put blinkers back on), Mr. Commons, Offlee Wild Boys, Premier Pegasus and Silver Medallion. Possible: Quail Hill.
RESORTS WORLD NEW YORK CASINO WOOD MEMORIAL: Grade I, $1 million Wood Memorial (1 1/8 miles at Aqueduct on Saturday, April 9). Likely: Duca, Isn’t He Perfect, Norman Asbjornson and Uncle Mo. Possible: Arthur’s Tale, Full of Scoundrels, Preachintothedevil, Rattlesnake Bridge, Son of Posse, Starship Caesar and Toby’s Corner (most likely to run here but was also under consideration for Illinois Derby).
TVG ILLINOIS DERBY: Grade III, $300,000 Illinois Derby (1 1/8 miles at Hawthorne on Saturday, April 9). Likely: Joe Vann, Lagoon of Diamonds, Smarter Than Ever, Sour and Southern Sculptor. Possible: Dance City, Economic Summit (also considering an allowance and might need more time between starts), The Fed Eased (also under consideration for Illinois Derby), Toby’s Corner (more likely for Wood Memorial) and Watch Me Go (also under consideration for Arkansas Derby; recently scoped with mucus; trainer believes it was allergies).
BAY SHORE: Grade III, $200,000 Bay Shore (7 furlongs at Aqueduct on Saturday, April 9). Likely: Buffum, Dr Disco, J J’s Lucky Train, Justin Phillip, Royal Currier, Smoke It Right and Vengeful Wildcat. Possible: Opening Move, Rift, Rocking Out, Sensational Slam and The Fed Eased (also under consideration for Illinois Derby).
ARKANSAS DERBY: Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby (1 1/8 miles at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, April 16). Likely: Alternation, Archarcharch, Brethren (might try cut-back blinkers), Caleb’s Posse, Elite Alex, J P’s Gusto, J W Blue, Nehro, Saratoga Red, Sway Away and The Factor. Possible: Astrology and Watch Me Go (also under consideration for Illinois Derby; recently scoped with mucus; trainer believes it was allergies).
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS: Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (1 1/8 miles on Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday, April 16). Likely: Crimson China (bled a 2 on a scale of 5 in the Spiral, according to co-owner Barry Irwin), Data Link (no plans to run in Kentucky Derby), Joes Blazing Aaron, King Congie (scratched out of Spiral due to hind muscle strain), Powhatan County, Queen’splatekitten, Santiva, Swift Warrior, Wilkinson and Willcox Inn. Possible: Jakesam.
COOLMORE LEXINGTON: Grade III, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (1 1/16 miles on Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday, April 23). Possible: King Congie (scratched out of Spiral due to hind muscle strain), Twinspired.
JEROME: Grade II, $150,000 Jerome (1 mile at Aqueduct on Saturday, April 23). Possible: Dominus (also under consideration for The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial)
THE CLIFF’S EDGE DERBY TRIAL: Grade III, $200,000 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (1 mile at Churchill Downs on Saturday, April 30). Possible: Dominus (also under consideration for Jerome), Ruler On Ice and Travelin Man.
KENTUCKY DERBY PRESENTED BY YUM! BRANDS: Grade I, $2 million-guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7). Likely: Animal Kingdom (will hinge on how he trains over dirt), Decisive Moment, Dialed In, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire, Twice the Appeal. Possible: Master of Hounds (also under consideration for Qipco English 2000 Guineas) and Shackleford (will run if he can get in, Preakness if not). TBD: Soldat, Stay Thirsty and To Honor and Serve.