Uncle Mo, despite fading to third at 1-10 odds, remains on course for Kentucky Derby 137 and is scheduled to ship to Churchill Downs on Monday, April 18. He tops the graded stakes earnings list with $1.36 million and is followed by Florida Derby (GI) winner Dialed In, who has $840,000.
In other movement, Watch Me Go, who entered the TVG Illinois Derby (GIII) at No. 18, fell to No. 19 following a sixth-place finish as the 2-1 favorite. The Kentucky Derby status for the $235,500 graded stakes-earner was unknown at press time.
Florida Derby runner-up Shackleford is now the “bubble horse” at No. 20 with $212,000.
Wood Memorial runner-up Arthur’s Tale debuted at No. 21 after banking a $200,000 check but would need defections. Also, a trio of Santa Anita Derby participants failed to crack the Top 20. El Camino Real Derby (GIII) winner Silver Medallion banked $60,000 for finishing fourth and moved from No. 27 to No. 23 with $184,334. Sham Stakes (GIII) champ Anthony’s Cross earned $20,000 while fifth, but fell from No. 23 to No. 24 with $182,000.
Joe Vann earned $167,400 for his front-running Illinois Derby victory but is not Triple Crown nominated. He could be supplemented for $200,000 to the race but would only have a chance to make the field if less than 20 Triple Crown nominated horses are entered as late supplements can’t trump nominees.
With less than four weeks before Kentucky Derby 137, the list remains in a state of flux. To Honor and Serve and Premier Pegasus, last week’s No. 10 and No. 19, respectively, were taken off the Derby trail due to injury. Meanwhile, No. 15 Jaycito ($250,000) was scratched from the Santa Anita Derby due to a bruised right front foot and will attempt to recover with a return in the Grade III, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (GIII) on April 23. Also, No. 9 Master of Hounds ($441,884) remains a possible starter although there’s been no recent status update from trainer Aidan O’Brien’s camp in Ireland. A final Derby decision about No. 13 Animal Kingdom ($285,000), who has raced exclusively on turf and synthetic surfaces, won’t be made until the colt has a workout over Churchill Downs’ dirt oval. Definitive plans for No. 14 Astrology ($281,893) haven’t been made public either.
Five open graded stakes races for 3-year-olds remain to be run with plenty of money up for grabs. A pair of Grade I, 1 1/8-mile events are scheduled for Saturday: the $1 million Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park and $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass over Polytrack at Keeneland.
Keeneland’s Grade III, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington at 1 1/16 miles and Belmont Park’s Grade II, $150,000 Jerome at one mile are scheduled for Saturday, April 23. The final chance to accrue coveted graded stakes money will come Opening Night at Churchill Downs under the lights in the Grade III, $200,000-added The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial. The one-turn mile race will be run as Race 8 in prime time at 9:36 p.m. ET on Saturday, April 30 – one week in advance of the Kentucky Derby.
The outcomes of those races will surely shake-up the picture as it looks today. Working under the assumption that it may take $250,000 in graded stakes money to crack the Top 20, the following horses scheduled for upcoming prep races must do the following for an optimum chance to make the Kentucky Derby field:
* Likely In: J P’s Gusto ($541,500) and The Factor ($270,000);
* Needs Top 4 finish to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Nehro ($200,000);
* Needs Top 3 finish to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Archarcharch ($180,000) and Brethren ($155,000);
* Needs Top 2 finish to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Caleb’s Posse ($71,504), Elite Alex ($65,000) and Sway Away ($61,500); and
* Must win: Saratoga Red ($15,000), Alternation ($0), Dance City ($0) and Truman’s Commander ($0).
Toyota Blue Grass
* Needs Top 5 finish to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Santiva ($240,254);
* Needs Top 2 finish to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Willcox Inn ($139,000); and
* Must win to surpass $250,000 in graded stakes earnings: Joes Blazing Aaron ($90,000), Wilkinson ($70,000), Queen’splatekitten ($30,000), Sensational Slam ($400), Brilliant Speed ($0), Crimson China ($0), King Congie ($0), Praetereo ($0) and Swift Warrior ($0)
* Likely In: Jaycito ($250,000)
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, $1,360,000, Todd Pletcher (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
2. (2.) Dialed In, $840,000, Nick Zito (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
3. (6.) Comma to the Top, $671,000, Peter Miller (May 7 Kentucky Derby under consideration)
4. (42.) Toby’s Corner, $625,000, Graham Motion (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
5. (3.) Pants On Fire, $623,000, Kelly Breen (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
6. (New) Midnight Interlude, $600,000, Bob Baffert (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
7. (4.) J P’s Gusto, $541,500, Joe Petalino (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
8. (5.) Soldat, $540,000, Kiaran McLaughlin (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
9. (7.) Master of Hounds, $441,884, Aidan O’Brien (May 7 Kentucky Derby or European classics)
10. (8.) Twice the Appeal, $400,000, Jeff Bonde (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
11. (9.) Mucho Macho Man, $370,000, Kathy Ritvo (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
12. (11.) Decisive Moment, $301,000, Juan Arias (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
13. (12.) Animal Kingdom, $285,000, Graham Motion (final decision on May 7 Kentucky Derby after work over dirt)
14. (13.) Astrology, $281,893, Steve Asmussen (May 7 Kentucky Derby under consideration)
15. (14.) The Factor, $270,000, Bob Baffert (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
16. (15.) Stay Thirsty, $260,000, Todd Pletcher (May 7 Kentucky Derby)
17. (16.) Jaycito, $250,000, Bob Baffert (April 23 Coolmore Lexington)
18. (17.) Santiva, $240,254, Eddie Kenneally (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
19. (18.) Watch Me Go, $235,500 Kathleen O’Connell (status unknown after sixth in Illinois Derby)
20. (20.) Shackleford, $212,000, Dale Romans (May 7 Kentucky Derby or May 21 Preakness)
21. (New) Arthur’s Tale, $200,000, Tom Albertrani (status unknown after second in Wood Memorial)
22. (21.) Nehro, $200,000, Steve Asmussen (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
23. (27.) Silver Medallion, $184,334, Steve Asmussen (plans not firm after fourth in Santa Anita Derby)
24. (23.) Anthony’s Cross, $182,000, Eoin Harty (status unknown after fifth in Santa Anita Derby)
25. (22.) Archarcharch, $180,000, Jinks Fires (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
26. (24.) Brethren, $155,000, Todd Pletcher (April 16 Arkansas Derby)
27. (26.) Willcox Inn, $139,000, Mike Stidham (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
28. (New) Mr. Commons, $120,000, John Shirreffs (status unknown after third in Santa Anita Derby)
29. (35.) Norman Asbjornson, $100,000, Chris Grove (status unknown after fourth in Wood Memorial)
30. (29.) Ruler On Ice, $96,000, Kelly Breen (April 30 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial)
Known Possible Fields for Kentucky Derby Prep Races (as of April 10)
ARKANSAS DERBY: Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby (1 1/8 miles at Oaklawn Park on Saturday, April 16). Likely: Alternation (could run in Northern Spur), Archarcharch, Brethren (might try cut-back blinkers), Caleb’s Posse (could run in Northern Spur), Dance City, Elite Alex (will add blinkers), J P’s Gusto (will add blinkers), Nehro, Saratoga Red, Sway Away, The Factor and Truman’s Commander. Possible: Astrology and J W Blue.
TOYOTA BLUE GRASS: Grade I, $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (1 1/8 miles on Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday, April 16). Likely: Brilliant Speed, Crimson China (bled a 2 on a scale of 5 in the Spiral, according to co-owner Barry Irwin), Joes Blazing Aaron, King Congie (scratched out of Spiral due to hind muscle strain), Newsdad, Praetereo, Queen’splatekitten, Santiva, Sensational Slam, Swift Warrior, Wilkinson and Willcox Inn. Possible: Clarke Lane.
COOLMORE LEXINGTON: Grade III, $200,000 Coolmore Lexington (1 1/16 miles on Polytrack at Keeneland on Saturday, April 23). Possible: Casino Host, Jaycito (battling right front foot bruise & Baffert said he’s likely going to put blinkers back on), Prime Cut and Twinspired.
JEROME: Grade II, $150,000 Jerome (1 mile at Aqueduct on Saturday, April 23). Possible: Cal Nation, 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: Casper’s Touch, Dominus (also under consideration for Jerome), Machen, Maclean’s Music, 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: Decisive Moment, Dialed In, Midnight Interlude, Mucho Macho Man, Pants On Fire, Soldat, Stay Thirsty, Toby’s Corner, Twice the Appeal and Uncle Mo. Possible: Animal Kingdom (will hinge on how he trains over dirt), Astrology, Master of Hounds (also under consideration for Qipco English 2000 Guineas) and Shackleford (will run if he can get in, Preakness if not). Unknown: Arthur’s Tale and Watch Me Go. On the outside looking in: Silver Medallion ($184,334), Anthony’s Cross ($182,000) and Mr. Commons ($120,000).