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

March 30, 2019 08:45pm

With a total of 255 points paid out this weekend toward qualifying for the 2019 Kentucky Derby, a few new names are safely in the field. The biggest opportunity came via the Louisiana Derby (G2) which awarded 100 points to the winner and 40 to the runner-up. Not as valuable, but just as intriguing, was the Sunland Derby (G3) with the winner earning 50 points.

Post time favorites failed to finish in the Top 2 in both preps. Instead, the horses that emerged to claim these Derby spots weren't even on the leader board, meaning a trio of new names are set for the first Saturday in May, while a number of contenders that appeared destined to qualify are stuck on the bubble inside of six weeks until race day.

Using recent history as a benchmark, the cutoff to get in the Top 20 should range from between 21 and 30 points. Contenders will potentially need a few more, too, if spots 19 and 20 are filled by horses qualifying in Europe or Japan.

Before running down changes prompted by the Louisiana Derby and Sunland Derby, let's start by looking at contenders already projected to qualify for the Derby, along with the next race they're targeting.

Already In

War of Will, 60 points, Kentucky Derby

Code of Honor, 54 points, Florida Derby

Long Range Toddy, 53.5 points, Arkansas Derby

Haikal, 50 points, Wood Memorial

Tacitus, 50 points, Wood Memorial

Game Winner, 45 points, Santa Anita Derby

Omaha Beach, 37.5 points, Arkansas Derby

Newly In

By My Standards
, 100 points

Just like that, the son of Goldencents earned a trip to Churchill Downs with a 22-1 Louisiana Derby upset. Before Saturday, By My Standards was just another recent maiden winner testing his skills against top-rated talent in the 3-year-old division. After his graded stakes debut, trainer Bret Calhoun has his first Derby horse and believes this charge is a real contender.

, 40 points

Spinoff is another example of how a horse can fly in from off the radar and into the Top 20. Before Saturday's second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, the son of Hard Spun won an allowance optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs in his first start of the year. It was also the first time he raced at a distance of at least one mile. He became the first Todd Pletcher runner of the weekend to make it in the Derby field and is expected to train up to race day, with the other option mentioned by Pletcher before Saturday's race the Arkansas Derby (G1) should Spinoff have needed more points.

Cutting Humor
, 50 points

This one rounded out a big weekend for Pletcher on the Derby trail. The Sunland Derby marked Cutting Humor's second try on the trail, but it was the first time that he scored points by finishing in the Top 4. In his first attempt, the son of First Samurai finished seventh as the Southwest Stakes (G3) betting favorite. This time, a much better trip yielded a neck victory.

On the bubble

Country House
, 30 points

A second-place finish to War of Will in the Risen Star put Country House in an excellent position to qualify with a win or runner-up finish in the Louisiana Derby. The son of Lookin at Lucky and his connections are now in a for a long wait should they maintain Derby dreams after a fourth-place effort. Given so many defeated favorites as of late, it could take more than 30 points to run this year.

, 28 points

2015 was the last time this point total was enough to make it in the Derby. Perhaps the Louisiana Derby's third-place finisher will follow in the footsteps of another Keith Desormeaux trainee. Last year, My Boy Jack went from the Louisiana Derby to win Keeneland's Lexington Stakes (G3) as a last-chance qualifier.

, 30 points

It's rare to see a Kentucky Derby hopeful win a points prep race in February, finish a runner-up next time out in late March and still sit on the bubble. But given his route, from the El Camino Real Derby to the Sunland Derby, that's the reality for this runner, who nearly caught Cutting Humor in a nice looking move from synthetic races to dirt. 

Mucho Gusto
, 24 points

Opting for the Sunland Derby represents a risk for a horse that enters with Mucho Gusto's 14 points, because a third- or fourth-place finish won't move you on to the big dance. This colt ran second in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G1) and won the Robert B. Lewis (G3) but after fading from the lead Sunday, he's on the wrong side of the bubble and either needs another race or a lot of help to make it in the Top 20. 

Others on the bubble

Mind Control, 30 points, Wood Memorial

Improbable, 25 points, Arkansas Derby

Bourbon War, 21 points, Florida Derby

Somelikeithotbrown, 20 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Outshine, 20 points, Wood Memorial


The following horses all needed to finish first or second in the Louisiana Derby or Sunland Derby if they were going to reverse their trajectory and land inside in the Top 20. Consider them out after what was probably their final attempt at qualifying for the Kentucky Derby.

Roiland, 10 points

Hog Creek Hustle, 9 points

Wicked Indeed, 6 points

Bankit, 4 points

Limonite, 2 points

Mr. Money, 2 points

Others with work left to do

Signalman, 18 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Tax, 12 points, Wood Memorial

Harvey Wallbanger, 10 points, Florida Derby

Instagrand, 10 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Vekoma, 10 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Win Win Win, 10 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Galilean, 7.5 points, Blue Grass Stakes

Hidden Scroll, 5 points, Florida Derby

Roadster, 0 points, Santa Anita Derby

Also worth mentioning…

Gunmetal Gray, 21.75 points

The son of Exchange Rate, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, exited his workout at Santa Anita on Sunday with a condylar fracture. Gunmetal Gray is off the Kentucky Derby trail, but connections say it is not considered a career-ending injury.

Back on the trail: Gray Attempt, 10 points

Gray Attempt's Kentucky Derby hopes appeared dim after he finished 11th in the Southwest Stakes and required therapy for hind-end problems following the race. But he earned another try on the trail by posting a dominant win in Oaklawn Park's Gazebo Stakes on Saturday. The six-furlong score will lead to a try at the Arkansas Derby.


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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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