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DERBY DISPATCH – APRIL 11

Edited Churchill Staff Release – Just one race remains on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, the $400,000 Lexington Stakes (Grade III) run on Saturday at Keeneland.

          Throughout the last seven months, the field for this year’s 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (Grade I) took shape and, on Saturday, some horses running in the Lexington could garner enough points to qualify for this year’s race.

          Hades, the upset winner of the Holy Bull Stakes (GIII), currently has 30 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and would need to win the Lexington to make the top 20 point earners. Another potential Kentucky Derby contender could be Encino, who has 20 qualifying points after winning the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway. Should Encino win the Lexington, he’d earn an additional 20 points and would need at least one defection (depending on where Hades finishes) to make the field for the Kentucky Derby.

          There will be a lot of moving parts throughout the next three weeks until the Kentucky Derby but Saturday’s Lexington Stakes is a major part of deciding who’s in and who’s out of this year’s field.

BREEDERS’ FUTURITY RUNNER-UP THE WINE STEWARD TABBED AS 5-2 MORNING LINE FAVORITE IN SATURDAY’S LEXINGTON STAKES – Paradise Farm Corp and David Staudacher’s Breeders’ Futurity (Grade I) runner-up The Wine Steward is set to make his first start in more than six months as the 5-2 morning line favorite in Saturday’s $400,000 Lexington Stakes (GIII) at Keeneland, the final race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

          Run at 1 1/16 miles, the Lexington will go as Race 10 with a post time of 5:48 p.m. The Road to the Kentucky Derby Championship Series race will award the top five finishers qualifying points on a 20-10-6-4-2 scale in their final attempt to make the field for the 150th running of the $5 million Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve (GI).

          Trained by Mike Maker, The Wine Steward has three wins from just four lifetime starts in his young career. The talented New York-bred son of Vino Rosso finished a game second to Locked in the Breeders’ Futurity (GI) at Keeneland, his first start trying two-turns. Four weeks later, The Wine Steward was scheduled to compete in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (GI) but bypassed the race with a minor issue. The Wine Steward returned to Maker’s base at Gulfstream Park early this winter to begin preparing for his return.

          Another top contender that entered the Lexington is DJ Stable and Robert Cotran’s Hades. The winner of the Holy Bull (GIII) in January, Hades would secure his spot in the starting gate for the Kentucky Derby with a victory in the Lexington. The speedy son of Awesome Slew will be ridden for the first time by Jose Ortiz.

          Another colt attempting to qualify for the Kentucky Derby is Godolphin’s Encino. The homebred son of Nyquist was victorious six weeks ago in the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park, earning 20 qualifying points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Lexington will be Encino’s first start on dirt.

          Tabbed as a 15-1 longshot, Secret Chat will break from the rail under Joel Rosario for trainer Roderick Rodriguez. He’s followed in post position order by (with jockey, trainer and morning line odds) The Wine Steward (Luis Saez, Maker, 5-2); Dilger (Tyler Gaffalione, Saffie Joseph Jr., 12-1); Footprint (Brian Hernandez Jr., Kenny McPeek, 10-1); Hades (Ortiz, Orseno, 7-2); How’s Ur Attitude (Adam Beschizza, John Ennis, 30-1); Everdoit (Axel Concepcion, Kevin Rice, 30-1); Encino (Florent Geroux, Brad Cox, 5-1); Liberal Arts (Irad Ortiz Jr., Robbie Medina, 4-1); and Lucky Jeremy (Gerardo Corrales, Bill Morey, 8-1).

SIERRA LEONE CLINCHES TOP SPOT ON ROAD TO KENTUCKY DERBY – Following his victory in Saturday’s Blue Grass Stakes (Grade I), Sierra Leone clinched the top spot on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 155 qualifying points.

          Only Saturday’s Lexington Stakes (GIII) remains on the Road to the Kentucky Derby to decide the field for the first Saturday in May.

          Here are the top 24 horses on the Road to the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard:

RankHorseTrainerArrival DateCurrent LocationRTKD Points
1Sierra LeoneChad BrownWeek of April 21Keeneland155
2FiercenessTodd PletcherTBDPalm Beach Downs136
3Catching FreedomBrad CoxMarch 25Churchill Downs125
4StrongholdPhil D’AmatoTBDSanta Anita125
5ResilienceBill MottApril 9Churchill Downs110
6Forever Young (JPN)Yoshito YahagiWeek of April 14Meydan100
7EndlesslyMichael McCarthyMarch 23Churchill Downs100
8DornochDanny GarganApril 10Churchill Downs60
9Just a TouchBrad CoxApril 7Churchill Downs75
10Track PhantomSteve AsmussenMarch 27Churchill Downs70
11West SaratogaLarry DemeritteTBDThoroughbred Center67
12Just SteelWayne LukasTBDOaklawn65
13Honor MarieWhit BeckmanMarch 27Churchill Downs65
14Domestic ProductChad BrownWeek of April 21Payson Park60
15CatalyticSaffie Joseph Jr.TBDGulfstream Park50
16DeterministicChristophe ClementTBDAqueduct50
17Society ManDanny GarganApril 10Churchill Downs50
18Mystik DanKenny McPeekApril 7Churchill Downs46
19No More TimeJose D’AngeloWeek of April 14Palm Meadows45
20T O Password (JPN)Daisuke TakayanagiApril 25NakayamaJapan RTKD
Invite
AE 21Grand Mo the FirstVictor Barboza Jr.TBDGulfstream Park40
AE 22Common DefenseKenny McPeekMarch 28Churchill Downs37
AE 23Epic RideJohn EnnisTBDThoroughbred Center35
AE 24HadesJoe OrsenoTBDGulfstream Park30

UPCOMING WORK TAB – It will be a busy work tab Saturday and Sunday at Churchill Downs with several Kentucky Derby and Longines Kentucky Oaks contenders scheduled to have breezes.

          Nearly two inches of rain fell in Louisville on Wednesday and Thursday causing the track to be “sloppy” during training hours and making trainers slightly alter their work plans.

          On Saturday, Jeff Ruby Steaks (GIII) winner Endlessly is scheduled to breeze at 5:30 a.m. ET. About two hours later, Louisiana Derby (GII) winner Catching Freedom is scheduled to work for trainer Brad Cox.

          Sunday’s work tab is once again scheduled to feature Louisiana Derby runner-up Honor Marie and Risen Star (GII) runner-up Track Phantom.

          Trainer Kenny McPeek reported Southwest (GIII) winner Mystik Dan and Rebel (GII) runner-up Common Defense are slated to have works this weekend.

DOWN THE STRETCH

As of Thursday morning, there were six possible Longines Kentucky Oaks (Grade I) contenders at Churchill Downs: Into Champagne (Barn 26), Just F Y I (Barn 19), Our Pretty Woman (Barn 38), Tarifa (Barn 22), Thorpedo Anna (Barn 6) and Where’s My Ring (Barn 30).

Stakes nominations for all Kentucky Derby week races closed Wednesday. The full list of nominations will be available in the coming days. …

The first day of the exclusive Kentucky Derby/Kentucky Oaks training window begins Saturday, April 20 from 7:30-7:45 a.m. …

Only 23 days remain until the Kentucky Derby.

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