What we learned this week on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail

February 21, 2019 09:43am
What we learned this week on the 2019 Kentucky Derby trail
Photo: Coady Photography

The 2019 Kentucky Derby trail was plenty active this past weekend. After three prep races became official and 119 points were paid out, here are my top takeaways:

Louisiana's drought could end

With a win in the Risen Star Stakes (G2),
War of Will is the new leader on the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard. Sixty are enough to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, so the son War Front is on track to return to Churchill Downs, the same racetrack where he earned his first career win last November when switching to dirt.

A developing story line for the Mark Casse trainee is whether War of Will can reverse a trend that has left the state of Louisiana waiting for its next champion. Not since Funny Cide in 2003 has a Kentucky Derby winner raced there before the first Saturday in May.

Based on what we saw in the Risen Star Stakes, War of Will appears to have as good a chance as any runner over the last 15 years to end that streak. Other than that, I'd suggest his odds of winning are better than where he closed in the recent Pool 2 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager at 17-1.

Bill Mott is on the leaderboard

Until last weekend, Bill Mott had everything in front of him in terms of qualifying a horse for the Kentucky Derby, a race still missing from the Hall of Famer's resume. A number of his horses -- Hidden Scroll, Mucho and Tacitus to name a few -- are on the radar. None of them registered a point until the Risen Star.

Country House
 cleared that hurdle when finishing second to War of Will. The son of Lookin Lucky is now on the threshold of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby with 20 points, and he will have an opportunity to secure his spot with a Top 3 finish next time out.

A strong Gulfstream Park winner two starts back, he could return to Fair Grounds for a rematch with War of Will going 1 1/8 miles in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

“We were very pleased with his effort despite running pretty green in the stretch,” Riley Mott, the assistant and son of Bill Mott, said Sunday morning. “He came back well and looked good this morning. I’m sure the boss and the owners will discuss his next race once we get him back home but given how he shipped so well and handled the track fine I would say the Louisiana Derby would be an option for us.”

Will Anothertwistafate qualify?

third consecutive win at Golden Gate Fields was, as with his others, dominant. But he has a ways to go before making the Kentucky Derby gate, given the victory awarded 10 points and came over a synthetic surface.

Answers to question along the way: Is the son of Scat Daddy a fit for the dirt? Is another way to the Derby, through Turfway Park's Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3), the way to go? Or could he skip the first leg of the Triple Crown in favor of going straight to he Preakness Stakes, for which he now has an automatic bid?

If connections do switch back to dirt, there are plenty of options, among them the Santa Anita Derby (G1) over a track where Anothertwistafate made his career debut in a sprint.

Anothertwistafate will look to buck history when it comes to El Camino Real Derby winners moving forward. We have to go back to Charismatic in 1999 to find that last winner that used it as a prep.

Another Upset on the Trail

If you thought a payout couldn’t get any bigger after Harvey Wallbanger’s score in the Holy Bull (G2) earlier this month, then you weren’t on 
Super Steed in Monday's Southwest Stakes (G3). Off at 62-1, the son of 2010 Kentucky Derby winner Super Saver paid $126.60 to win.

Super Steed failed to hit the Top 4 in his first try at a Derby prep in Oaklawn Park's Smarty Jones Stakes. But trainer Larry Jones correctly identified a merry-go-round race, trying again in the Southwest, and Super Speed used a brilliant middle move to rally to the lead.

Next, he could face a new batch of shippers in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

Stock Up, Stock Down

If you're still holding out on War of Will, well, consider yourself in a minority. Still, the verdict's out as far as Super Steed and Anothertwistafate go as Derby contenders.

How about a few runners going the wrong way at the wrong time? M
issed opportunities are becoming more noticeable. In the three Kentucky Derby prep races last weekend, a total of eight horses scored points for the first time. Four – War of Will, Long Range Toddy, Hog Creek Hustle and Sueno – added to existing totals.

Those that failed to score are on the decline:

Risen Star Stakes

Plus Que Parfait, 4 points

Mr. Money, 2 points

Limonite, 2 points

Southwest Stakes

Gray Attempt, 10 points

Bankit, 4 points

Boldor, 2 points

Check out an updated look at the Kentucky Derby points leaderboad.


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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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