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The Kentucky Derby Post

Kentucky Derby: New Points Leader is Guaranteed

Gone are the days when the winner of a $1 Million Juvenile Stakes would remain locked into a top 5 Kentucky Derby qualifying spot without having to race as often. As we know, the updated points system is now in place so get ready for the leader board to start moving. In fact, we’d better be ready to start seeing it move more than we have so far as the road to the 2013 Kentucky Derby opens a new chapter this weekend.  
So far we have seen a total of 19 Kentucky Derby preps. All of them have carried the same value for the top four finishers: 10-4-2-1. Although there has been some shuffling within the rankings the points awarded have never been large enough to create a significant gap between horses. Nor has there been an instance where a derby contender or hopeful made a huge jump in the rankings just by scoring a win. And my huge jump I’m referring to a superior leap, not a hop and certainly not a skip. Specifically, an instance where a horse that was trailing by anywhere between 25 to 50 points suddenly wins and lands inside the top ten.
If that’s what you were waiting for then get ready because on Saturday the first leg of the “Championship Series” kicks off with the Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds and the Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park. The points that are awarded to the top four finishers now rise to 50, 20, 10, and 5 so the opportunity to start making some noise from well off the contender list is open for business. And, the chances that a new points leader will move into position by Saturday evening is guaranteed.
As things stand right now Goldencents and Shanghai Bobby are perched atop the new Derby eligibility rankings with 24 points. But, neither of the two will be racing on Saturday. They will have their shot at climbing back to the top but under this new system they have also left themselves open for the unthinkable, a chance at missing the Kentucky Derby completely.
At the moment I have not spent much time considering this to be a likely scenario. In fact, I don’t think the odds of that occurring are very good. But, the chance is out there. The reason I mention it because my derby fever is rising with the amount of different ways we can reach a 20 horse field. If you’re struggling to find yours then let me know if the first Saturday in May seems closer after this weekend.
These Kentucky Derby preps have a lot of interesting story lines. I like the amount of potential contenders that will be racing but I’m also intrigued by an element of surprise that could surface. Particularly, as strong as contenders like Violence, Normandy Invasion, Oxbow, and He’s Had Enough appear to be, there will also be more than ten horses loading into each starting gate. The more challengers you face, the greater the opportunity for another Derby hopeful to emerge.
Now, it is definitely going to be more difficult then I may portray it to be but, what if. Yes, what if a horse with zero points finds the winners circle? Or, even more interesting, what if it happens twice? Of course I understand the odds are very long but I have to throw the scenario out there. We all love long shots right. So, why don’t we take a closer look and find out what kind of ripple effect it would create.
First let’s begin with the obvious; it would play right into the hands of Churchill Downs and their decision to revamp the qualification system. The race to the top 20 will still be as close as it was in the old system and there will still be a good amount of horses on the “bubble”. But, because we’re dealing with points instead of dollars, the intensity and attention amongst the fans might heat up.
So, let's just say that what I’m inferring pans out. First, let's look at what happens if a horse with zero points doesn't win but still finishes in the top 3. If a horse that has yet to score finishes 2nd in either prep this weekend he may not be as good as Shanghai Bobby or Goldencents but according to what counts, he’ll only be 4 points behind. If that does not make you think that things will start getting crowded in the middle of the points pack then consider this. If a horse that has yet to score a point finishes 3rd then they will have earned enough be tied with highly regarded contenders like Itsmyluckyday, Super Ninety Nine, Flashback or Revolutionary.
Now, back to my original scenario. What if they win and catapult from 0 to 50 points. I know that this may not be any different than when a horse went from having hardly any graded stakes earnings in the bank to practically starting in the upcoming Kentucky Derby. Let’s be honest, a big win can still get you in. But, what’s more interesting to me is the battle of securing your spot after the initial series of scoring over the first 19 Preps has ended. That time begins on Saturday and that is the reason I am pointing this out.
The ten point wins are not anywhere near as valuable as they were in the past. And, at this stage of the derby trail, for the very first time in a very long time, not one horse has secured their spot in the starting gate yet. It’s about racing top level closer to May than further away and we’re getting closer this weekend.   

As you can probably tell, I am very excited about this series. I think it will turn into a very stimulating turning point on the Kentucky Derby trail and get people talking about how many points it's going to take to earn a spot. I also believe the interest level is going increase as derby fever continues to rise each time the points increase. This series will feature a lot of leader board changes but it will also be the perfect set up for the major Kentucky Derby preps.


Your field for both Kentucky Derby Preps this weekend including points. 


G2 Risen Star Stakes | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt | Purse $400,000


1Proud StrikeG. Stevens S. Assmussen0
2Code WestM. Garcia B. Baffert0
3AgentR. Eramia J. McAnally0
4Golden SoulM. Mena D. Stewart4
5MyluteS. Bridgmohan T. Amoss2
6Palace MaliceR. Napravnik T. Pletcher0
7Hardrock ElevenJ. Theriot D. Banks0
8Ive Struck a NerveJ. Graham J. Desormeaux1
9Normandy InvasionJ. Lezcano C. Brown4
10OxbowJ. Court D. Lukas11
11BethelI. Diego G. Dorochenko0
12He's Had EnoughM. Gutierrez D. O'Neill6
13Circle UnbrokenL. Goncalves G. Simms0
14DepartingB. HernandezA. Stall, Jr.0
AESunbeanC. HernandezA. Stall, Jr.0


G2 Fountain of Youth Stakes | 1 1/16 Mile | Dirt | Purse $400,000 


1OrbJ. VelazquezC. McGaughey0
2Joshua's CompriseE. PradoB. Rose1
3ViolenceJ.CastellanoT. Pletcher10
4Majestic HussarL. SaezE. Kenneally0
5ElmutahidJ. BravoK. McLaughlin0
6Cerro (IRE)J. Rocco JrG. Motion0
7Sky CaptainP. HusbandsM. Casse0
8Speak LogisticsJ. RosarioE. Plesa Jr.1
9He's Had EnoughM. Gutierrez D. O'Neill6
10Falling SkyJ. EspinozaJ. Terranova10
11Sr. QuisqueyanoC. OliveroL. Oliveres0



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Older Comments about Kentucky Derby: New Points Leader is Guaranteed...

They could make the system better if they model it after the BCS. LOL
The new point system is stupid, as I have been saying since the day they released the details. Trainers can not take the top 2 year olds and PREPARE them for the Derby. Now all their efforts at age 2 are worth squat. If anybody really thinks that the third place finisher in the Breeders Cup Juvenile is less deserving than the winner of the Rebel or the Risen Star, that person is just clueless.
Nor how CD has almost no preps.
I don't like how biased it is to winners of races.
I think a grade 2 in December ought to be worth the same points as a grade 2 in March, I undersatand the points but they should based on the level of competion not the month they are ran in
The Illinois Derby still has some significance for the Preakness. Just think of the big colts that Mike in SB mentions, that could possibly encounter a problem in the last group of races. All of a sudden, the Preakness looks to have more value than possibly years' past.
I'm liking the point system less and less. It isn't even just that some very talented horses aren't going to get in, but trainers are going to have to adjust training schedules artificially to make sure their horses are winning preps. Are they going to be past their peak for the derby? Did the likelihood of getting a Tripile Crown just go down, from it's already abysmally low level?
The last group of 100 point races are going to be very important this year under the new system. There are going to be a lot of well regarded horses, like Normandy Invasion and maybe even Violence and Shanghai Bobby that will have to at least hit the board to make the Derby field. All the good horses pointing to just 7 races will mean strong fields, this is good for racing.
They have made it harder for consistant in the money horses to qualify and rewarded winning
And a handful of the 8 pt to 11 pt horses that end up with 40-59 pts with a 2nd and 3rd
Gobblin, i could easily see a senerio where a third place finish and 24 pts = total of 44 and you dont get in. We will have 14 horses with 50+ pts ( 1sts & 2nds) in the last leg, another 1-4 50 pt winners that dont finish 1st or 2nd in the last leg
What I don't like about the points system is that today is Feb 22 and not one horse has enough points to get in the Derby. It's only 10 weeks away!
Hardrock Eleven in the Risen, Cerro in the FOY. Horses to look at are Falling Sky, Majestic Hussar, Violence, Orb, Oxbow, Mylute, Palace Malice, Circle Unbroken, Proud Strike, and even He's Had Enough.
Notice that it looks already going by this weekend's races that some of the most promising colts will be facing off earlier and more often under the new system when under the old they dodged each other as much as they could up until the last round of major preps (Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, etc.) and even tried to dodge each other as much as possible then. Better racing should result..
I think one of the best things about the new system is it will make horses race more often. If a trainer waits for the last group of 100 point races to get in, then they are setting themselves up for any problem that comes along, bad weather, bad break or post etc. I would think a trainer would want at least 20 points going into these last win and your in races just to be sure they can get in even without a win. My guess is that a horse with 24 points could make the field, if recent history is a guide at least one 100 point race winner will be injured and miss the race and some of the 50 point and 100 point races will be won by the same horse, but 40 points looks like a sure thing for a place in the field.
Now, it's win and you're in for the Derby! WIn one of the next 15 races and you're got enough points.
I agree, Floridaf, strategic placement of the colts becomes necessary under the new points system. If a horse has gained some 10 point wins early on, he will be in a better place if he later has a minor setback than if his trainer waits for the big races. For example, SB or Goldencents have 24 points already; even a third place in a 100 point race (20 points) would theoretically get them into the gate. So far, I don't think the system is unfair; it does require careful thought and planning by the trainers/owners though.
I rather like the suspense that this system will build. Strategy, now more than ever, will be a key factor in who makes the starting gate come May.
What I dont like about the system is it closes the door on a superior horse that may have a set back or just be unlucky. What if a horse like Shanghi Bobby or Goldsence gets a slight injury or gets sick and it hampers thier training. So they come back for the final prep and score a respectable 3rd for a great horse that is still getting back in racing shape, because they might have taken a month to heal? Uncaptured comes to mind.
And Trinniberg!

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About Me

Meet Bryan Brinkmeyer  


Growing up across the river from the Bluegrass State, I was able to spend a lot of summer days at Ellis Park in Henderson, Ky. It was there that my attraction to the Sport of Kings began. In the spring of 2000, I made my inaugural Kentucky Derby appearance, and the tradition continues annually 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 champion's trail is what The Kentucky Derby Post is all about. It begins when 2-year-olds hit the track continues until the field is set, the picks are in, and the roses are awarded. 

Twitter: @thederbypost

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