Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: Central Division I

December 12, 2019 10:35am
The Central Division of the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail is comprised of horses that train in the Midwest during the spring and summer and are likely to be entered in prep races at Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park and Keeneland. The Springboard Mile at Remington Park and the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park will also be noted here in the coming months, as well as horses that emerged in earlier races at Churchill Downs.

RELATED: East Coast Scouting Report

Here’s a look at where the current contenders stand:

(Sire - Trainer - Owner - Derby Points)

The Leader
Dennis’ Moment
(Tiznow - Dale Romans - Albaugh Family Stables LLC - 10): 
A stumble to start the Breeders' Cup Juvenile notwithstanding, he's still the top choice of Kentucky Derby contenders in this and, perhaps, any region. An ultra-impressive maiden winner in the first race where he kept his jockey aboard throughout, he won Churchill's Iroquois Stakes (G3) geared down. He has a chance to be a real superstar leading into a 3-year-old campaign that should start with Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth (G2).

First Tier
(Street Sense - Brendan Walsh - Godolphin - 10): 
Following surgery to remove a bone chip from an ankle last month, there are plenty of reasons to dismiss his chances of being ready for the Kentucky Derby. But if all goes well in his recovery, he has the foundation to overcome such obstacles and is a top-tier contender at this point until proven otherwise. He won at first asking then followed that up with a Grade 1 win in Keeneland's Breeders' Futurity. While there are question marks about his durability, his ability is unquestionable.

Scabbard (More Than Ready - Eddie Kenneally - Joseph W. Sutton - 10): 
After winning on debut in June by five lengths at Churchill Downs, he is still learning the ropes against graded stakes company. He hung on to finish second in the Saratoga Special (G2), then overcame traffic trouble to be second to Dennis' Moment in the Iroquois. He heads into the new year with a fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile over a track where it may have been tough to close.

Silver Prospector (Declaration of War - Steve Asmussen - Ed and Susie Orr - 10): 
The Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) winner has shown quite a bit of development from summer to the end of November. It took him four tries to break his maiden, which he did at Keeneland on Oct. 13. Since then, he finished third (behind winner South Bend and Fighting Seabee) in his stakes bow before stretching to two turns in his recent score.

Second Tier Art Collector (Bernardini - Joe Sharp - Bruce Lunsford - 0): On Stars of Tomorrow II day at Churchill Downs, he was a tremendously impressive winner of an allowance optional claiming affair over solid 2-year old winners. It's important to note that his victory in that race came over a sloppy track, and that he has won on both turf and dirt. Basin (Liam's Map - Steve Asmussen - Jackpot Farm - 0): After a promising start, which included winning the Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga in September, he was sidelined due to a pastern injury and missed the Breeders' Cup. Connections intend to bring him off the bench for a two-turn debut in Oaklawn Park's Rebel Stakes (G2). Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice - Brad Cox - Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Doheny Racing Stable -0): A half-brother to champion Monomoy Girl, he broke his maiden at second asking in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs last month. In his Keeneland debut he was a beaten favorite, but a different, front-running ride keyed vast improvement and signaled some talent in this colt. Necker Island (Hard Spun - Stanley Hough - Sagamore Farm LLC and Stanley Hough - 0): This $250,000 yearling finished third in a maiden special weight race at Saratoga that was won by emerging New York prospect Three Technique before breaking his maiden in his second try. Following his maiden win at Churchill Downs in September, he won an allowance optional claiming affair, beating Silver State by a nose. Shashashakemeup (Shackleford - Keith Desormeaux - Calumet Farm - 0): Racing in the Calumet Farm colors, this one was impressive in winning on debut by 5 1/2 lengths going seven furlongs at Churchill Downs last month. He's already at Fair Grounds, where he logged his first workout since his maiden victory. Desormeaux said the upcoming Sugar Bowl Stakes is possible before he tries the Louisiana preps. Silver State (Hard Spun - Steve Asmussen - Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC - 0): He was a beaten favorite by a nose to Necker Island in that competitive allowance optional claiming race at Churchill Downs. Silver State previously broke his maiden on debut in a dead heat with Relentless Dancer, 9 3/4 lengths clear of the rest of the field. Independently, these connections have brought horses such as Gun Runner and Will Take Charge to the Derby. Together, they also campaigned 2018 contender Combatant. Ones to Watch Answer In (Dialed In - Brad Cox - Robert LaPenta - 0): The morning line favorite for Sunday's Springboard Mile at Remington Park broke his maiden in thrilling fashion in his second attempt. Drawing off to win by 5 1/4 lengths, this gelding was the prohibitive favorite in the seven-furlong maiden special weight affair. Along with Mr. Monomoy, he'll venture to give the Cox barn its first Derby runner. Chestertown (Tapit - Steve Asmussen - West Point Thoroughbreds, Chester and Mary Broman et al - 0): After breaking his maiden second out at Aqueduct on Dec. 1, the $2 million New York-bred purchase is joining Asmussen's main Fair Grounds string for a run at the preps in 2020. Finnick the Fierce (Dialed In - Rey Hernandez - Arnaldo Monge and Rey Hernandez - 4): Finishing second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at 88-1 came as a surprise to many, but it squarely placed this Dialed In gelding on the Kentucky Derby watchlist. Letmeno (Twirling Candy - Ian Wilkes - Randall Bloch and Six Column Stables et al- 0): He was beaten by two of the contenders near the top of this list in Dennis' Moment and Scabbard when fourth in the Iroquois. Stakes-placed in his first race against winners after winning on debut, he's been on the shelf since September. Mailman Money (Goldencents - Bret Calhoun - Allied Racing Stable, LLC - 0): A $150,000 purchase as a 2-year old in training in April, he won on debut on the Stars of Tomorrow II card at Churchill Downs on Nov. 30 for the connections of current 3-year-olds Mr. Money and By My Standards. Rowdy Yates (Morning Line - Steve Asmussen - L and N Racing LLC - 0): Another Springboard Mile contender, he already has three stakes wins to his credit and had a solid race in the Bashford Manor (G3) at Churchill Downs at the end of June where he finished second, less than a full length behind the winning race favorite Phantom Boss. Sounion (Liam's Map - Brian Lynch - Town and Country Racing, LLC - 0): A $360,000 purchase as a yearling, he improved his placing in each of his three attempts at breaking his maiden. He finished third at Ellis Park in July, then placed at Churchill Downs in October, before finally breaking through in Louisville at the end of November. South Bend (Algorithms - Stanley Hough - Sagamore Farm LLC - 0): He started 3-for-3, including a stakes victory in Churchill's Street Sense, before finally tasting defeat going a bit longer. He'll enter 2020 off a sixth in the Kentucky Jockey Club. Remaining Central Division Preps
 Springboard Mile - Remington Park - December 15 - [10-4-2-1]

 Lecomte (G3) - Fair Grounds - January 18 - [10-4-2-1]

 Smarty Jones (G3) - Oaklawn Park - January 24 - [10-4-2-1]

 Risen Star (G2) - Fair Grounds - February 15 - [50-20-10-5]

 Southwest (G3) - Oaklawn Park - February 17 - [10-4-2-1]

 Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) - Turfway Park - March 14 - [20-8-4-2]

 Rebel (G2) - Oaklawn Park - March 14 - [50-20-10-5]

 Louisiana Derby (G2) - Fair Grounds - March 21 - [100-40-20-10]

 Blue Grass (G2) - Keeneland - April 4 - [100-40-20-10]

 Lexington (G3) - Keeneland - April 11 - [20-8-4-2]

 Arkansas Derby (G1) - Oaklawn Park - April 11 - [100-40-20-10]


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