The Kentucky Derby trail continued on Sunday as the road traveled to Western Kentucky for the Ellis Park Derby. It's not a race that holds the same prestige as the final Kentucky Derby prep races that we are accustomed to seeing, but points were up for grabs, qualification hopes were on the line, and this race from the “Pea Patch” made an impact on the leaderboard.
As we witnessed in the Travers Stakes on Saturday, the favorite cruised home to an easy win while second place was good enough to see a new contender surge into the top 20. Here is an updated look at the points picture following the Ellis Park Derby.
Attachment Rate, 35 points
The horse that finished runner-up to a commanding performance by the post-time favorite in the Ellis Park Derby walked away with a very rewarding consolation prize. Coming into the Sunday, the son of Hard Spun needed to win or finish second to gain enough points to vault into the top 20. Now that he has coveted points, the Kentucky Derby will be next if his connections choose to send him there.
Art Collector, 150 points
The son of Bernardini continued his winning ways on Sunday. Although he never won a graded stakes before he scored in the Blue Grass Stakes, Art Collector backed up that performance with a dominant effort in the Ellis Park Derby. The win moves him into third place on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. It also makes him a strong candidate for becoming the second choice on the Kentucky Derby morning line behind the expected favorite Tiz the Law.
Anneau d’Or, 32 points
The son of Medaglia d’Oro has enough points to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, but his contender status continued to fade after a disappointing effort in the Ellis Park Derby. In four career races at a distance of 1 1/8 miles, Anneau d’Or has failed to equal the promise he showed in two runner-up finishes in his juvenile season at a distance of 1 1/16 miles. His connections have earned their spot in the Kentucky Derby, but the added distance will not improve his chances of finding what worked in the juvenile season.
Both horses landed on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard when they won a Kentucky Derby series race on the extended summer schedule. Since they also couldn’t be found on the radar this spring, it’s not a surprise that they were not Triple Crown nominated. Because the pair didn’t fare very well in the Ellis Park Derby, it is unlikely that their connections will pay the late entry fee if they make it into the top 20.
Winning Impression, 20 points
The son of Paynter is Triple Crown nominated, but his late bid at gaining more points took another hit on Sunday when he missed out on finishing in the top four in his second consecutive points race. After finishing fourth in the Arkansas Derby, Winning Impressions first took a step back with a seventh-place finish in the Indiana Derby before repeating another seventh-place finish in the Ellis Park Derby.
Necker Island, 14 points
Even in standard years, we see a lot of 3-year-olds like this son of Hard Spun — modestly consistent in their Kentucky Derby points series races, but not good enough to finish in the top two. It happened again in the Ellis Park Derby, when Necker Island finished third but needed it to be first or second.
Rowdy Yates, 7 points
His return to Ellis Park for the first time since winning the Ellis Park Juvenile didn’t return him any new Kentucky Derby possibilities. It was a reasonable effort by Rowdy Yates, and it was worth it for his connections to try to stretch him out at a longer distance in the Ohio Derby and Ellis Park Derby. But it just didn’t work out, so expect him to shorten back up next time out.
Also worth mentioning …
The long qualification road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby will come to a close next weekend in the Pegasus Stakes from Monmouth Park. Until then, the bubble watch to round out the top 20 may be centered on horses that are ranked in the top 20 but will not be moving forward.
The top candidates that may opt out include:
#13, Swiss Skydiver, 40 points: The filly that finished second in the Blue Grass Stakes likely will start in the Kentucky Oaks.
#15, Rushie, 40 points: Not Triple Crown nominated, will have to pay the late nomination fee.
#17, Storm the Court, 32 points: On Sunday, the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner switched over to turf in the La Jolla Handicap (G3) at Del Mar. He turned in a solid performance and runner-up finish, so his connections might keep him on the grass.
Here are the top 25 horses on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard:
|1||Tiz the Law||372 points|
|3||Art Collector||150 points|
|4||Honor A. P.||140 points|
|5||Ny Traffic||110 points|
|6||King Guillermo||90 points|
|7||Thousand Words||83 points|
|8||Dr Post||80 points|
|9||Max Player||60 points|
|11||Country Grammer||50 points|
|13||Swiss Skydiver||40 points|
|16||Major Fed||38 points|
|17||Storm the Court||36 points|
|18||Attachment Rate||35 points|
|19||Anneau d'Or||32 points|
|20||Sole Volante||30 points|
|21||Finnick the Fierce||25 points|
|23||Dean Martini||20 points|
|24||Shared Sense||20 points|
|25||Uncle Chuck||20 points|