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
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.
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?
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.
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
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.
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?
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.