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The Kentucky Derby Post

Kentucky Derby Points: 20 is No Longer Enough

Coming into today, 20 points was a very interesting total and carried the potential to set off a wild string of events. Before the Blue Grass Stakes and Arkansas Derby, there were seven Triple Crown nominated horses tied for 17th place in the Kentucky Derby point standings with 20. As a result, if today’s preps ended with 20 points still being enough to qualify for even a single post position then a familiar qualifying measure would have been forced back into play.

Under the new Kentucky Derby qualifying system, if there is ever a tie for the final post position, or positions, then earnings in non-restricted graded stakes races serve as the tie-breaker. Now, if this tie-breaker rule had to be used, then we would be in for an exciting Wild Card Series.

Up next are the final qualifying races or “Wild Card Races” via the Coolmore Lexington Stakes and Derby Trial. The way those points are awarded is that the top finishers, 1 through 4, earn 20-8-4-2. Just for fun, let’s say that the winners that emerged from these two races were derby hopefuls that had yet to score a single point. Not only would the number of horses stuck on 20 points increase but the race to the 20th post position would be a photo finish. Just like the old system, the almighty graded stakes earnings would make all the difference and even the smallest amount of money would determine who got and who got left out.

Naturally the results of today's preps held all the cards but unfortunately the derby gods decided against it. 20 points is no longer enough and those horses are now on the outside looking in. So, what does this means for any derby hopefuls that are still out there? The answer is that you had better be entering a wild card race with at least 10 points in order to have a chance.

It’s very fitting that the horse that now holds the final post position in the 139th Kentucky Derby with 30 points was one of the seven horses tied at 20 going into today. Since Falling Sky was strong enough to hold on to 4th place by only a neck in the Arkansas Derby, he was awarded 10 points and officially made the jump into the Kentucky Derby field. Not so fortunate was Den’s Legacy. At 20 points in the standings he was also in need of one more top four finish. But, he did not have it in the end as he faded from 2nd at the ¾ pole to finish 6th.

And so the stage is set for the wild card races. Again, you must already have at least 10 points to your name. If you are right at 10 points then to unseat Falling Sky you must also out earn him in non-restricted graded stakes races. The magic dollar amount: $207,500 (More than $100k behind the other two horses that also scored 30 points)

So who does that put into a position to remove Falling Sky from making it to the Kentucky Derby starting gate? The first two horses that come to mind are Code West and Departing. Similar to what Palace Malice did today, they too could return from the Louisiana Derby and take one last shot at qualification. Palace Malice needed a big effort today and he got it when he bested everyone in the field except for Java’s War. The second place finish was still a victory however because he gained an additional 40 points and jumped to 50 overall.

Both Code West and Departing are currently stuck in the 20 point club. But, a big effort and win in either wild card race will put them over the top and lift them to 40 points. Between the two, Departing has a higher graded stakes earnings total. So, in case anyone is wondering what would happen if they both won in separate wild card races, Departing would own the tie-break.

Another horse that comes to mind is Merit Man, 3rd place in the Florida Derby last time out. Coupling that effort with a 4th place finish in the G2 Hutcheson Stakes, Merit Man has accumulated a total of $357,500 in non-restricted graded stakes earnings. In fact, he leads the 20 point club in graded stakes earnings so because of that he is right now classified as "the first one out" and ranked at #21. So, if his connections decide to give it a go, a win will automatically put him in. 

As for any of the other horses listed below, I don't see any of them of entering a wild card race or winning if they do. I believe that if anyone is going to make a last ditch effort to qualify and accomplish that mission, it will one of the three I already mentioned. But, I guess I could be wrong so we'll have to wait and see which probable starters throw their hooves into the wild card round. 

Hopefully this paints a pretty clear picture on where we stand in the first edition of the points system before we head into the final two races of the qualification season.  Since we are now three weeks out until the Kentucky Derby much can still change over the course of the next two weeks. But, for now, it does not appear that any of the horses inside the top 20 will not be be making it to Churchill Downs and running for the roses. 
Besides Palace Malice and Falling Sky, the other horses that either saved their hinds or earned their keep by scoring enough points today to move from outside the top 20 into the Kentucky Derby field were: Java's War, Frac Daddy and Overanalyze
Finally, the two horses that didn't race very well today but are still safe: Oxbow and Uncaptured.  
2013 Kentucky Derby Top 20 (as of 4/13/2013)
1OrbShug McGaughey150
2VerrazanoTodd Pletcher150
3GoldencentsDoug O'Neill129
4Java's WarKen McPeek122
5RevolutionaryTodd Pletcher110
6OveranalyzeTodd Pletcher110
7Lines of BattleAidan O'Brien100
8VyjackRudy Rodriguez70
9Will Take ChargeD. Wayne Lukas60
10ItsmyluckydayEddie Plesa, Jr.50
11Govenor CharlieBob Baffert50
12Black OnyxKelly Breen50
13Palace MaliceTodd Pletcher50
14Normandy InvasionChad Brown44
15Frac DaddyKen McPeek44
16MyluteTom Amoss42
17OxbowD. Wayne Lukas36
18UncapturedMark Casse30
19Super Ninety NineBob Baffert30
20Falling SkyJohn Terranova30


Have a Shot with a Wild Card Win (Triple Crown Nominated)


RankHorseTrainerPointsGS Earnings
21Merit ManBob Hess, Jr.20$357,500
22Den's LegacyBob Baffert20$329,000
23Charming KittenTodd Pletcher20$206,000
24DepartingAl Stall, Jr.20$130,000
25West Hills GiantJohn Terranova20$90,666
26Code WestBob Baffert20$90,000
29Dynamic SkyMark Casse13$290,835
30Power BrokerBob Baffert10$245,000
31RydillucGary Contessa10$127,500
32Mr PalmerBill Mott10$110,000 




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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby Points: 20 is No Longer Enough...

Fear the Kitten just got in with SIX.
Looks like 20 could be enough points now. With all these defections, wouldn't it be ironic if they couldn't fill the 20-horse field? And, with Departing, Winning Cause, and Governor Charlie(among others) now aiming at the Preakness Stakes, it seems strange that the Preakness could be as competitive as the Derby? We have a little over 120 hours til the Derby, but, is there some doubt as to the significance of the point system now?
Process of elimination is good but 15 horse's is enough and safer,I think.
Goldencents, Verrazano, Itsmyluckyday up front with the gov,the ox and uncaptured snorting down their necks will make for an honest pace, 23+, 46+ and perhaps from anxiety of this group, a 1:10+ for the 3/4. Faster than all the preps, except the Sunland Derby. That will be fast enough to weed out the pretenders by the 1/8 pole and allow for an exciting finish for those with the reserve to unleash for another panel. Lots of talent stalking mid pack and a larger than usual group of deep closers with real talent. Of all the horses on the outside of the fence, only Charming Kitten belongs. Hope he gets a break.
  • ismalli · Nothing Honest about a pace when all but Gov. Charlie ran their 1 1/8th Slower than Any Prep for the last 20 years. If No Pace via No 99er then Gov. may go wire2wire · 1678 days ago
  • fromtheillstate · Normandy invasion coming from deep after the pace drops off. · 1677 days ago
I would have loved to see Dreaming of Julia get on the trail!
Would like to see Al Stall call an audible and run Departing in the Lexington & not the Illinois Derby. He improves with every start & I think could be a contender in the Derby.
  • Show All 3 Comments
  • amdaman · I just realized they're both ran on the same day (I thought the Lexington was on the same date as the Derby Trial). Still, the Illinois Derby has an attractive purse and a win would likely get him into the KD. · 1679 days ago
  • jasen.mangrum · The Illinois Derby doesn't offer KY Derby qualifying points. · 1678 days ago
let's not forget the one wildcard here. Something called Derby fever, I would almost guarantee 20 starters. Mine that bird pretty much sealed that fate with his impossible result. Ay?
Thank god too! This is a classy, good looking field. I tried to handicap it a little and knock some horses off, and it's hard? Where are the Sabercats and Daddy Nose Bests when you need them!?
Have you seen Official Kentucky Derby "Contender-List?" Many Trainers/Owners Have taken their Horse "Out of Contention for the 20 spots."
WPS, I'm with ya on Departing. I think he has much more to unveil than his 3rd place in the LA Derby.
I have a feeling this year's KD may have less than 20 starters. The likes of Orb, Verrazano, Goldencents, Java's War, Overanalyze, Revolutionary, Vyjack, Will Take Charge, Itsmyluckyday, Palace Malice, and Normandy Invasion should discourage a few from wasting 50 grand to run against them. I would venture to guess only 16 horses will start in this year's KD.
With the defections of Uncaptured, Merit Man, Den's Legacy, and Departing, will Charming Kitten be #20?
The announcers on HRTV have said several times that Merit Man is not going to the Derby
Instead of floundering around trying to see which horses can be squeezed into the Derby, it would benefit all concerned if only horses with 50+ points were entered. A 13 or 14 horse field would be more than enough, and give contenders a reasonable chance at running to form as opposed to being a great horse that had his chances crushed by the crowd.
Yeah Uncaptured is not running. Throw in Merit Man!
I hate the fact that NBC gives horse racing the cold shoulder to those fans without cable or satellite TV. They can interrupt regular braodcasting to show tennis and golf on their free NBC channel but can't do the same for horse racing. First they took away covering the Breeders Cup in it;s entirety and now they screw us out of prep races for the Derby. They chose to cover the World Series of Poker instead. Then when they did show the Blue Grass, they cut away and said the Arkansas Derby was going to be shown on it;s NBC Sportsnetwork station. There are many fans that can;t afford or choose not to have cable or satellite who deserve better treatment from NBC. I say that the NTRA should consider switching to Fox because they do a great job showing NASCAR. Horse racing fans can;t even watch the Kentucky Oaks or Black Eyed Susan without having cable or satellite. At least I can go online and watch racing but there are some who can;t even do that. I'm tired of horse racing fans getting shafted.
  • El Kabong · Well said derby girl. The broad appeal of the Kentucky Derby deserves a wider audience and it certainly would have helped their ratings against The Masters. I do really like their coverage and broadcast team just wish like you that they would keep this on their main network. This is an American Classic Event and a tradition that should not be ignored. · 1680 days ago
Unless the connections have changed their minds since last night, Uncaptured won't be in the Derby
Contessa said Rydilluc is back to the grass and Casse has Dynamic Sky aimed at Woodbine
too bad nbc wont extend coverage to the lexington
Baffert has called super99 a miler, why would the connections start him even if they got in? Seems like the KD needs Merit Man more than Merit Man needs the KD. Without him Goldencents and Verrazano have it all their own way. Orb, probably one of the best 3yos I've seen won't have a pace to run at in the KD.

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer – Chicago, IL


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park, Henderson, KY. 


In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance and the tradition continues because there is no other city in the racing world like Louisville, KY on Derby Day. 


Although the story of a Kentucky Derby winner is legendary, a champions trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. The coverage begins when Juvenile season starts and continues until the field is set, the picks are in and the roses are awarded. 



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