Hodges Photography/Jan Brubaker
The cutoff to reach Top 20 in Kentucky Derby points between 2013 and 2019 generally ranged from 21 to 30 points. In 2020, however, the threshold hit an all-time high when Bodexpress just made it in with 40 points.
Last year's Derby trail was, however, influenced by Japanese contender Master Fencer accepting an invitation. Again this year, Japanese and European horses are eligible to run, so truly the Americans are competing to crack the top 18 in points for a trip to Churchill Downs.
Given split divisions of the Risen Star (G2) were run Saturday -- both worth 50 points to their winners -- we could be on pace for horses to need a record points total come entry day for the May 2 Derby. Let's jump in and start by running down changes prompted by Saturday's results.
Once he took the lead in the first division of the Risen Star Stakes, the half-brother to Monomoy Girl never looked back. With this win, Mr. Monomoy, trained by Brad Cox, became the first likely qualifier for the Kentucky Derby should this amount of points prove enough as it has in the past.
He wasn't on the radar coming into the second division of the Risen Star, but now the Bill Mott trainee is most likely a qualifier. Racing out front was a good place be as the son of Uncle Mo, with Junior Alvarado aboard, also played a part in the pace scenario on his way to a victory.
On the Bubble
In most years, this would be enough to get in. Given factors mentioned above, however, we'll wait to see whether the Lecomte (G3) winner and Risen Star runner-up hits the board in his final prep.
After the 2-year-old champ got started in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2), look for trainer Peter Euron to return him around two turns in the March 7 San Felipe (G2). That means Storm the Court has two more opportunities to get his points.
The son of Constitution has already made three starts in Kentucky Derby points races, winning two and running third in another. Yet because those races were all the minor sort of preps awarding 10 points to their winner, Tiz the Law has an elimination race of sorts coming up in the Florida Derby (G1). He needs a board-hitting performance to ensure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
In his first Kentucky Derby points prep, this Ghostzapper colt made a solid impression, fighting for second through the stretch of the latter Risen Star division. He'll likely give it another go in the Louisiana Derby (G2)
Thousand Words, 20 points
The Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) and Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner is 3-for-3 overall and could also resurface in the San Felipe. There's no sense of urgency yet for this grind-it-out win machine from the Bob Baffert barn.
Out (for now)
For the first time in four career starts, Independence Hall lost in last weekend's Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3). Yet, even with a victory, he would have reached at most 20 points and been in need of another top prep finish. This son of Constitution figures to get two more tries.
Though he is still searching for his first stakes win after finishing third in the first division of the Risen Star Stakes, the son of Hard Spun continues to collect points with a pair of on-the-board finishes to start his season.
With a win in Saturday's El Camino Real Derby, the Super Saver colt earned 10 points toward the Derby along with automatic qualification to the Preakness Stakes. He could take two more spins at points preps toward the first Saturday in May or wait for that trip to Pimlico.
The Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Los Al Futurity runner-up was nowhere to be found in the second division of the Risen Star Stakes. Floated wide throughout, he'll get another try in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) back in California.
His third-place finish in the second division of the Risen Star Stakes was a good start in his points race debut. NY Traffic will need to, at the least, repeat that finish in a tougher prep next time if he's to stay in Derby contention.
Worth a mention after his winning return Friday at Tampa Bay Downs, this son of Constitution, Grade 1-placed at age 2, will go into the deep end, likely with a start in the Florida derby or Wood Memorial (G2). Connections aren't pushing to the Derby, but they'll let him prove if he's worthy.
Others with work left to do
Shotski, 14 points
Maxfield, 10 points
Dennis' Moment, 10 points
Eight Rings, 10 points
Sole Volante, 10 points
Authentic, 10 points
Gold Street, 10 points
Three Technique, 4 points
Nadal, 0 points
Take a full look below at the points leaderboard and prep race schedule following the Risen Star and El Camino Real Derby. Oaklawn Park's Southwest Stakes (G3) will allot points on a 10-4-2-1 scale on Monday before the trail goes on hiatus leading up to Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth (G2) on Feb. 29.