Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: East Coast Division IV

Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: East Coast Division IV
Photo: Derbe Glass/Gulfstream Park

With his win in the Florida Derby (G1), Tiz the Law reaffirmed his position as the leader of the East Coast Division of the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail.

The appearance of the coronavirus pandemic has changed the Derby trail as originally laid out. The move of the Run for the Roses from the first Saturday in May to Sept. 5 is expected to create new points opportunities for Derby aspirants, that i if there is racing later in the spring and in the summer.

With the Derby pushed back to late summer, it is time to bring back our Kentucky Derby scouting report. The series will continue tomorrow with a look at the western contenders on Tuesday and the central division on Wednesday. 


(Sire – Trainer – Owner - Derby points)

The Leader

Tiz the Law (Constitution – B. Tagg – Sackatoga Stable - 122) – The New York-bred is now the points leader for the Kentucky Derby after his facile victory in the Florida Derby. After the race, Sackatoga Stable managing partner Jack Knowlton stated that they want to stay on the east coast with a start possible in a rescheduled Wood Memorial and/or Travers before the first Saturday in September. [current William Hill favorite with odds: 7-2*]

First Tier

Ajaaweed (Curlin – T. Pletcher – Shadwell Stable - 7) He made his 2020 debut in the Sam F. Davis (G3) after running second in the Remsen (G2) in December behind Shotski. At Tampa, he was bet to be the second choice and tried to rally from the back of the pack while behind by almost 20 lengths. He was no threat finishing a distant third. He was scratched from the Florida Derby after looking out of sorts the day before the race. With Kiaran McLaughlin’s retirement from training, Ajaaweed will move to the barn of Todd Pletcher. [current William Hill odds: 45-1]

Ete Indien (Summer Front – P. Biancone – Shanahan, Bacon, Dream With Me Stable, Horse France America, DP Racing, Biancone Racing - 74) – His Derby trail debut was a second to Tiz the Law in the Holy Bull followed by a front-end victory in the Fountain of Youth while racing from the far outside. Heading into the gate for the Florida Derby, he looked washed out, then grabbed a quarter at the start resulting in cut hind leg and a lost shoe, yet still finished third. The extra time on the Derby trail will certainly help this one recover from those minor injuries. [current William Hill odds: 22-1]

King Guillermo (Uncle Mo – J. C. Avila – Victoria’s Ranch - 50) The 49-1 winner of the Tampa Bay Derby surprised the full field when he attended the early pace and then drew off to win by almost five lengths over Sole Volante. He was a late nomination to the Triple Crown series after his win at Tampa. Connections had planned to train up to the first Saturday in May but now those plans have to change. King Guillermo shows no official works since the Tampa Bay Derby. [current William Hill odds: 25-1]

Max Player (Honor Code – L. Rice – George Hall - 10) Max Player moved from a maiden victory at Parx in his second start to the Withers where he got an ideal speedy pace scenario and closed from last to go right by the favorite Shotski. The plan was to run in the postponed Wood Memorial (G2) and now trainer Rice will have to wait and see what points races lie ahead in New York. [current William Hill odds: 50-1]

Mischevious Alex (Into Mischief – John Servis – Cash is King, LC Racing - 50) This John Servis runner is the winner of his last three races, all in stakes, including the seven-furlong Swale (G3) at Gulfstream and the Gotham (G3) at Aqueduct when stretched to a one-turn mile. He was also aiming for the Wood Memorial for his two-turn debut. [current William Hill odds: 22-1]

Modernist (Uncle Mo – B. Mott – Pam and Marty Wygod - 70) Owned and bred by Pam and Marty Wygod, Modernist became a Derby trail winner when he won the second division of the Risen Star (G2) while racing as part of the early pace. The Louisiana Derby (G2) added more distance as he picked up more Derby points with a third-place finish. He has shown the ability to carve out steady fractions over long distances. [current William Hill odds: 32-1]

Sole Volante (Karkontie – P. Biancone – Reeves Thoroughbred, Andie Biancone, Limelight Stables - 30) In his first official start on the Derby trail, he got a great pace set-up when the favorite in the Sam F. Davis battled for the lead. Behind by more than 15 lengths after a half-mile, he passed the leaders in the final turn like they were standing still and drew off to win by more than two lengths. Next up was the Tampa Bay Derby, where Sole Volante was second-best behind King Guillermo as the favorite. The Arkansas Derby, rescheduled for April 4, is under consideration. [current William Hill odds: 10-1]

Ones to Watch

The switch of the Kentucky Derby date to Sept. 5 has given horses more time to develop and presumably more opportunities to earn qualifying points. 

With disappointing performances on the Derby trail by Gouverneur Morris, Silver Ratio, and Candy Tycoon, Todd Pletcher does not have a horse among the leaders of the east coast contenders. However, he still has some promising horses who may benefit from the switch of the Derby date.
Liam’s Point and Palm Springs broke their maidens in February at Gulfstream and have been training steadily since then. The $975,000 2-year-old purchase Money Moves backed up his debut maiden score with an impressive allowance victory this last week while stretching out to a mile at Gulfstream.

Trainer Mark Hennig gets the gift of time for
Sonneman. The son of Curlin broke his maiden going a mile at Belmont in October and now has strung together eight workouts heading towards his 2020 debut. UPDATE: Sonneman beat a strong allowance field at Gulfstream Park on Saturday, April 4, 2020.


Remaining East Coast Division Preps

-- Wood Memorial (G2) – to be rescheduled - [100-40-20-10]

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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