Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: Central Division IV

Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: Central Division IV
Photo: Hodges Photography / Amanda Hodges Weir

Central Division horses on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail include those based mainly at Oaklawn Park and Fair Grounds during the winter, or where either trained in Kentucky as 2-year-old's or belong to barns with a presence at Churchill Downs or Keeneland. With the uncertainty of the Derby trail at this point due to the COVID-19 pandemic, only the Arkansas Derby (G1) remains as a prep race for points on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby," although that situation remains fluid.

RELATED: East Coast Division West Coast Division

Here is the latest look at the horses in the Central Division:

(Sire - Trainer - Owner - Derby Points)

The Leader

Wells Bayou (Lookin At Lucky - Brad Cox - Clint and Lance Gasaway - 104) His Louisiana Derby (G2) victory assures that he will get a Kentucky Derby berth if healthy in September. Now the trick is to keep the front-running colt in good order from now until then. While he seems to be a “needs the lead” type, there are performers out West who possess better speed, so he’s going to have to learn to rate sometime in the next five months. Bettors beware in any subsequent starts he has between now and September--he may be trying something new on the track.  [current William Hill odds: 20-1]

First Tier

Maxfield (Street Sense - Brendan Walsh - Godolphin - 10): It’s the beginning of April and one of the top players of the central division may be a horse that hasn’t started in 2020. Of the horses in this division, many benefit from the Kentucky Derby being postponed until September 5, but Maxfield may benefit the most. He missed the 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile due to an ankle injury, and was not returning to the track fast enough to be a Derby contender had it been contested in May. And while he’s had a bit of a lapse in his training (last published workout was March 14), there is nothing to suggest that last year’s Breeders’ Futurity winner at Keeneland will be sidelined. Any improvement to his 2-year-old form makes him a contender in this division.  [current William Hill odds: 9-1]

Enforceable (Tapit - Mark Casse - John Oxley - 33): While he maybe hasn't progressed in the fashion one would expect this time of the year, Enforceable does possess the raw ability to be considered a contender in this division. His hard-fought second-place finish in one division of the Risen Star (G2) looked to be just as impressive as his victory in the Lecomte (G3), though he did not move forward in terms of speed figures. Then he regressed in the Louisiana Derby. Enforceable is good enough to get the benefit of the doubt, but it could indicate an early 3-year-old plateau, which is not a good sign considering the Kentucky Derby has been delayed for four months. He needs to get better, but he certainly can. [current William Hill odds: 25-1]

Major Fed (Ghostzapper - Greg Foley - Lloyd Madison Farms - 30): He broke his maiden on Jan. 1, then put in a commendable performance when second in the Risen Star division won by Modernist. In his fourth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, he got off slow and was running wide throughout. However, he was one of the few horses to make up ground late. With five months until the Kentucky Derby, he has as good a chance as any of the others here to really mature and become a force. I have a feeling he’ll become a major player down the road. [current William Hill odds: 75-1]

Second Tier

Basin (Liam's Map - Steve Asmussen - Jackpot Farm - 0): Basin made his 2020 debut in the Rebel, where he finished third. Like Maxfield, Basin missed a large chunk of training at the end of his 2-year-old campaign. While this one’s solid performance in the Rebel came much earlier than Maxfield's potential return, the latter seems to have more upside. Basin’s next start will give much more of a clue as to where he is in his development. He could be an interesting horse to bet second off the layoff in the Arkansas Derby should he make the field. [current William Hill odds: 20-1]

Silver Prospector (Declaration of War - Steve Asmussen - Ed and Susie Orr - 21): This one gets a pass in the sloppy Rebel, but it is important to note the performance should he catch another off-track. His performance last month in the Rebel is forgettable, but makes one wonder if it was the wet track or simply a bounce that had him 15 lengths behind Nadal as the winner crossed the wire. His Southwest (G3) victory featured one of the higher speed figures of the sophomore class, so he has displayed the talent. And he has plenty of time to improve, so he seems deservedly in the second tier of Derby contenders from this division. [current William Hill odds: 28-1]

Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice - Brad Cox - Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Doheny Racing Stable - 52): If Mr. Monomoy’s ankle swelling that forced him off the originally scheduled Derby trail ends up being nothing more than a minor setback, he still could be a force in this division later this summer. He should be close to having enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field, although what the official Derby trail consists of this summer remains an unknown. Given the setback, Mr. Monomoy is one of the 3-year-olds that figures to benefit the most from the postponement of the Kentucky Derby, which otherwise he would have missed. [current William Hill odds: 24-1]

Excession (Union Rags - Steve Asmussen - Calumet Farm -20): Of all the horses in this list of division contenders, the one I’m most interested in watching next out is Excession. His forward move when second in the sloppy Rebel last out could be a product of him not being bothered by an off-track, or it could be that he is starting to put it together mentally. Excession looked green in the Lecomte, and broke through the gate prematurely in the Risen Star. While he still looked a bit raw in the Rebel, the result speaks for itself. If you look at the jump in speed figures and the sheets, his latest performance was leaps and bounds better than his two prior starts, which is why he went off at 82-1 in the Rebel. If he can build off his latest effort, he’s a contender to be reckoned with. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Ones to watch

Mystic Guide (Ghostzapper - Michael Stidham - Godolphin - 0): . This one broke his maiden on the undercard of the Louisiana Derby, which is normally not a precursor to being a Kentucky Derby contender. He’s not Triple Crown nominated, but that may change with the Kentucky Derby being moved to September. His maiden-breaker was ultra impressive, but came as no surprise to Stidham, who has known all along that this Godolphin colt was “special” but late in developing. Stidham now has a clean slate to work with, and awaits the Derby picture going forward. This one could make some noise this summer.  [current William Hill odds: 60-1]

Shoplifted (Into Mischief - Steve Asmussen - Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables, et al - 13): He hasn’t raced since finishing fourth in the Southwest in February. He has returned to the work tab, breezing at Oaklawn Park. While his Springboard Mile victory last year loses more and more luster, if he could return to any type of form resembling that effort, he’s one to keep an eye upon. [current William Hill odds: 75-1]

Silver State (Hard Spun - Steve Asmussen -14): Though still just a maiden winner, and coming off a poor finish in the Louisiana Derby, Silver State can’t be written off yet. He’s only missed hitting the board in one of his five career starts. He gets the benefit of the doubt. [current William Hill odds: 65-1]

Dennis’ Moment (Tiznow - Dale Romans - Albaugh Family Stables LLC - 10): I’m sure most people have dismissed Dennis’ Moment following his non-effort in the Fountain of Youth (G2) at the end of February. That race, coupled with his 2019 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile performance has soured many a race fan. He hasn’t put in a work since the Fountain of Youth, but there are now five months left until the Kentucky Derby. While he is the longest of longshots, I still believe he can salvage his 2020 campaign, and at the very least return to the conversation. [current William Hill odds: 16-1]

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