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HRN Original Blog:
The Kentucky Derby Post

2014 Kentucky Derby: Time to Start Scoring


As we creep closer to the first Saturday in May we can now begin to sense which contenders and qualification races we should focus on the most. But, it’s still early and there is still much to talk about surrounding the 2014 Kentucky Derby Point Standings.  


The fifty point club is officially open. 50 is a very solid number and is by far more than enough to ensure you a spot in the Kentucky Derby. However, to give a better idea of just how early it is, let’s look at it this way; there are only two horses that I believe have earned enough points to qualify. Of course, I’m referring to Intense Holiday, 53 points, and Wildcat Red, 50 points.


Despite the fact that Giant Finish rounded out the field of 19 in the 2013 Kentucky Derby with only 10 points, there were a lot of breaks he needed to go his way in order for his qualification to become a reality. For instance, who else recalls these qualification winners that notched 20 points or more yet never made it to the starting gate: Shanghai Bobby, Hear the Ghost, I’ve Struck a Nerve, Black Onyx, Govenor Charlie?


The same could be said for our runner up, Golden Soul, who got into the big show with only 14 points. Finally, rounding out the bottom three was Charming Kitten with 20 points, as Falling Sky secured #16 with 30 points.


So, if this were 2013 then Albano (24 points), Tapiture (22 points), Vicar’s in Troube (20 points) and General a Rod (20 points) would all have a spot in the starting gate. However, even though their chances are probable, less than 30 points offers no guarantees. Thus, we’ll have to keep a good eye on the leaderboard, these four contenders, as well any derby hopefuls that are officially taken off the derby trail.


Which, brings up another very interesting discussion; Besides New Year's Day there haven’t been many points leaders that have retired or been sidelined with no chance of returning in time to qualify. However, if you are below 20 points and have had a setback, time is ticking and a plan to get back on track is critical.


As we approach 60 days until the 140th Kentucky Derby there are three horses that everyone is curious about. The question is; when will they make their 3-yr-old debut?


The good news is that Honor Code has been breezing (2/12 3F 35.66, 2/19 4F 49.71), and should be ready for his first real drill sometime in the next two weeks. Secondly, a debut race has been decided. Trainer Shug McGaughey has ruled out the Gotham Stakes on March 1 and opted instead for the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn on March 15.


If all continues to go well up to and through the Rebel, expect McGaughey to then enter Honor Code in the Wood Memorial, the track where he won the Remsen, or keep him at Oaklawn for the Arkansas Derby.


In a nutshell, what this means is that Honor Code is not required to make a huge statement in his first race after injury. Timing is everything and by racing in March, the son of AP Indy, will likely start in two qualification preps. Therefore, his 14 points are safe because even if he scores zero in the Rebel, a third place and 20 points or fourth place and 10 points in the second leg of the Championship Series may be enough to get him to Churchill Downs.


Now let’s look at another highly regarded contender that is in a similar position to Honor Code. Although, there is one major difference; Havana has no chance at scoring any points in his 3-yr-old debut. Todd Pletcher has decided on the seven Furlong Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park this coming weekend.


It’s great that this successful Juvenile is doing well after missing so much time and that he will be returning to the Kentucky Derby trail. He’s been breezing at Palm Meadows Training Center these past 5 weeks with the most recent on Sunday 2/23 - 5F in 1:00.90. So, he should be ready to go for a face-off with No Nay Never but he’s also in front of a qualification disadvantage.


As mentioned, Honor Code looks like he will get two cracks at scoring additional points. Havana on the other hand will have to wait until after the Swale before he can improve from where he sits in the standings; 14 points. If Honor Code misses in the Rebel then these two that dueled to an exciting 1-2 finish in the Champagne Stakes will both be in a position of missing the 2014 Kentucky Derby heading into their final qualification race. Would not have guessed it back then but it’s a possibility right now.


We may be used to the new Kentucky Derby qualification system but since this is only the second year it’s pretty interesting to point out. Under the old system Honor Code and Havana would be just fine. With a graded stakes total earnings of $660,000 Havana would be guaranteed a spot in the Kentucky Derby. But, the days that horse could qualify as a Juvenile are over. As for Honor Code, it’s pretty much the same thing; 2nd place in the Champagne, and a win in the Remsen are no longer enough.


Now, let’s look at Shared Belief from a scoring angle. In spite of how highly considered and talented this colt is he has yet to score. Yes, Shared Belief is undefeated but the Hollywood Prevue Stakes and CashCall Futurity are not included in the Kentucky Derby qualification series. His successful Juvenile season and graded stakes bank account of $435,000 also does not count.


So, what’s the latest? Unfortunately, Shared Belief has missed another week of workouts and his last remains a 5F Drill at Sanita Anita on January 3. This means that starting a qualification race in March is off the table and that a race on a surface he is used to is all that's left.


To date, Shared Belief has only ever raced on Synthetics. Consequently, when combined with injury a cushion track is the obvious choice. If so, the Blue Grass is the only qualification race that remains. It has been mentioned that the Spiral Stakes could be an alternative but it is now just one month away (3/22). So, it is a tough situation as the chances of seeing Shared Belief in the Kentucky Derby far outweigh his chances of winning. The injury setback now makes Shared Belief a long shot so don’t be surprised to see him lose his value in the majority of Kentucky Derby rankings.


Finally, Bond Holder who was scratched in the Risen Star after he was banged up on his flight to New Orleans has returned to Santa Anita. By 2012 Kentucky Derby winning connections, Reddam Racing and Doug O’Neill, the VA bred colt by Mineshaft is expected to resume training and enter the San Felipe. While this set back may be minor, the same remains for this derby hopeful. 11 Points is not doing much for your qualification status. So, finish in the top 3 next time out or face the possibility of not qualifying with a subpar effort in a major Kentucky Derby prep.


Because Kiaran McLaughlin elected to skip the Fountain of Youth and will wait for the Florida Derby, Cairo Prince can be compared to these contenders. Correct, Cairo Prince only has 14 points and would be in danger of missing the Kentucky Derby if he doesn’t finish in the top 4 next time out. But, he is in full swing right now and has not endured a setback. Therefore, I’m almost 99.9% sure that he will deliver in the Florida Derby and move on to Kentucky Derby.


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Older Comments about 2014 Kentucky Derby: Time to Start Scoring...

Ice Wine Stables has another 3 year old besides No Nay Never that to me had the qualities of a Triple Crown horse. It's Here's Johnny that scored a win at the OBS Championships. Have not heard a word since then. I hoe Ward has him pointed to a Derby prep and a late nomiation.
I give Shared Belief little chance of running in the Derby. The move back to Golden Gate is not a postive.
Just saw the tweet in regards to Bond Holder, Averie. If he does in fact go in that spot, I think I would have to go with Vinceremos over him. As for Havana, I think coming back in the Swale will work out okay for him. Look how well Wildcat Red performed in the FOY after running in and winning the Hutcheson.
Bond Holder was actually routed to Florida and is now pointing toward the Tampa Bay Derby because he wasn't happy on his flight back to California, according to O'Neill.



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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up I spent a lot of days in the Bluegrass State. Although I was born and raised north of the mighty Ohio River in Southwest Indiana, I was still next door to thoroughbred racing; Ellis Park, Henderson, KY 


Likewise, the first Saturday in May was always a celebrated family event. As my two brothers and I got older the battle for picking the next winner began to heat up. In 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance. Since then I’ve made it an annaual tradition because there’s no other city or weekend in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, following a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when the 2-yr-old preps commence but it does not quit racing until all results are official, the field is set, the picks are made and the roses are worn. But that’s not all because the road doesn’t stop on the First Saturday in May. The elusive quest for the next Triple Crown has reached 35 years so I invite my readers to remain in the saddle through all three legs as we await the next Champion of Champions. Cheers.





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