Who's in, out and on the 2019 Kentucky Derby points bubble?

March 11, 2019 10:39am

On a busy Saturday that featured three 2019 Kentucky Derby prep races, a total of 204 points were paid out. The field is continuing to take shape as at least two new horses punched their ticket to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May and a number of others moved a step closer.

Using recent history as a benchmark, fewer than 20 points won't be enough, and the cutoff to get in the Top 20 should range from between 21 and 30 points -- potentially a few more if spots 19 and 20 are filled by a contender that qualifies from Europe and Japan.

Let's dive in and look at which categories fit our contenders from the Gotham Stakes (G3), Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3).

RELATED: Current Kentucky Derby points leaderboard

In: Haikal
, 50 points

The son of Daaher made it three consecutive wins by taking down the field in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct. In his debut race on the Kentucky Derby trail, Haikal
 came soaring home to seal the deal with his second straight Aqueduct stakes win.

In: Tacitus
, 50 points

At this point on the Kentucky Derby trail, all it takes is one good race. On the other hand, one poor finish could leave a talented horse out of the field. Bill Mott and Juddmonte Farms have been on both sides of that, with a Tampa Bay Derby win by Tacitus
 easing the blow of Hidden Scroll's defeat last week in the Fountain of Youth (G2). Tacitus, a son of Tapit, is in the Derby field, while Hidden Scroll is expected to get another shot on the trail.

On the bubble: Mind Control, 30 points

After a ground-saving trip along the rail, Mind Control looked poised to be our Gotham Stakes winner with an eighth of a mile left to go. It was valiant effort and a great ride by John Velazquez, but Haikal swept by. This son of Stay Thirsty tacked on an additional 20 points, adding to his 10 from a Jan. 1 win in the Jerome Stakes.

In 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2018, 30 points were enough to qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Because it wasn't enough in two of the last three years, however, Mind Control remains on the bubble. He'll need to just hit the board in his final prep, likely the Wood Memorial (G2).

On the bubble: Somelikeithotbrown, 20 points

As expected, the post time favorite was much the best in Turfway Park's Jeff Ruby Steaks. Somelikehotbrown set the pace, weaved a bit in the stretch and was ultimately much the best on the synthetic.

As a reminder, the Jeff Ruby pays out a different points total than other Championship Series races we have seen so far, on a 20-8-4-2 basis to the Top 4. It also ran a bit earlier this season, meaning we'll get to see Somelikeithotbrown look to punch his Derby ticket in a final prep like Keeneland's Blue Grass Stakes (G2) in which he'll have to translate his talent to dirt.

On the Bubble: Outshine, 20 points

Tacitus wasn't the only Tampa Bay Derby starter that made plenty out of his first Derby trail start. The runner-up, Todd Pletcher-trained Outshine, picked up 20 points and will be looking for a Top 3 finish in his final prep to get punch a ticket to Churchill Downs.

Out: Instagrand, 10 points

It wasn't the return from a long layoff that many fans were hoping for, but Instagrand at least finished well enough, third in the Gotham, to accumulate a significant number of points. Should he continue on to a final prep, the Jerry Hollendorfer-trained son of Into Mischief will need to win or place to fit comfortably in the Derby. A third would only bring his total to 30. Last year, these connections limped into the field with Instilled Regard, who wound up completing the superfecta the first Saturday in May.

Out: Win Win Win, 10 points

In his first race at a distance of more than seven furlongs, Win Win Win's late rally came up short, but Derby hopes remain should he get another shot around two turns. His position is similar to that of Instagrand.

Out: Much Better, 7

The son of Pioneerof the Nile first appeared on the Kentucky Derby radar after he switched over to the dirt from the turf and finished third in Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. He looked much more like a one-turn sprinter in the Gotham, going out to the lead before reeled in late. He was game to hold on for fourth.

Here are the others who earned points on Saturday but are on the outside looking in and have a lot of work to do if they want to keep their Kentucky Derby hopes alive.

Zenden, 5 points - Tampa Bay Derby, 4th place

Moonster, 4 points - Jeff Ruby Stakes, 3rd place

Five Star General, 2 points - Jeff Ruby Stakes, 4th place

Also worth mentioning...

Out: Dynamic Racer, 8 points

For the second time in as many races, Dynamic Racer finished a runner-up to Somelikeithotbrown. The Jeff Ruby effort was worth 8 Kentucky Derby points, but Dynamic Racer needs a late Triple Crown nomination at a cost of $6,000 for further consideration.

Out: Super Steed, 10 points

Due to bone bruising, Super Steed, winner of Oaklawn Park's Southwest Stakes (G3), is off of the Kentucky Derby trail. 


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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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