Kentucky Derby Derby 2019 Daily: Final prep points scenarios

April 11, 2019 02:23pm

Welcome to Horse Racing Nation’s Kentucky Derby Daily, which will each day leading up to the May 4 race at Churchill Downs detail all the news and notes related to contenders in one convenient space.

For the first time since Churchill Downs instituted its points system to set the Kentucky Derby field, one or more horses with serious a case for winning on the first Saturday in May could come up short of qualifying.

There’s more at play, too, than points doled out from the Arkansas Derby (G1) and Lexington Stakes (G3) that drew Wednesday afternoon.

Consider that with the addition of Japan’s Master Fencer, the current cutoff is actually 19th on the leaderboard. Trainer Aidan O’Brien could also send U S S Michigan from Europe pending results of Thursday’s Cardinal Conditions Stakes in England.


Domestic runners may need to finish 18th or better on a year when the minimum points is on pace to set a record. That’s the fallout from a tumultuous prep season that saw just two repeat winners after Jan. 1, War of Will and Tacitus.

Regardless of what unfolds in the coming days, consider these horses — assuming good health — as locks:

1. Tacitus (150)

2. Vekoma (110)

3. Plus Que Parfait (104)

4. Roadster (100)

5. By My Standards (100)

6. Maximum Security (100)

7. Game Winner (85)

8. Code of Honor (74)

9. Haikal (70)

10. War of Will (60)

11. Long Range Toddy (53.5)

12. Tax (52)

13. Cutting Humor (50)

14. Win Win Win (50)

20. Master Fencer

Connections to each of Gray Magician (15th, 41 points), Spinoff (16th, 40), Bodexpress (17th, 40) and Signalman (18th, 38 points) will have to hope horses with substantial point totals entering the weekend sweep the highest-earning spots.

Outside the Top 20 and not set to run again are Bourbon War (21st, 31 points), Instagrand (22nd, 30) and Mucho Gusto (27th, 24). Among those, Bourbon War is viewed as the biggest threat going 1 1/4 miles, as well as the colt with connections who want to get in the field.


So, what about this weekend’s runners?

The Arkansas Derby’s 100-40-20-10 points payout to the Top 4 figures to firm up at least two starters.

As the Arkansas Derby’s second choice, Omaha Beach (19th, 37.5 points) could easily surpass others on the bubble. Third or better keeps him safely in. The favorite at Oaklawn Park, Improbable, has the rail and sits 27th in points with 25. He needs to run first or second.

Long Range Toddy is already in, of course, and Country House (30 points, 24th) could still run third or better qualify for the Derby. Beyond those, every runner needs to win for a sure thing or place for so much as a chance depending on who else hits the board.

Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes pays out fewer points, on a 20-8-4-2 scale. For its Top 2 contenders — Anothertwistafate (23rd, 30 points) and Sueno (25th, 28 points) — the race is a win and you’re in proposition. Second-place points won’t do it unless there's a rash of defections from the current Top 20.

View the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard from Churchill Downs here. Somelikeithotbrown, listed 22nd exiting last weekend’s preps, has since been declared out due to injury.

Derby links

 For more on Saturday’s fields, check out early Arkansas Derby analysis as well as Lexington Stakes analysis.

 O’Brien says he’s “not sure yet” if even a win will be enough for U S S Michigan to advance to the Derby. Preview the Cardinal Conditions Stakes.

 Laurie Ross runs down pedigree profiles for recent Derby qualifiers and asks the big question: Will they get the distance?

 Brian Zipse profiles Plus Que Parfait’s breeders who hope to be dancing on the first Saturday in May. And you’ll have to see the video that comes with this story.

In case you missed it…

Tuesday’s Derby Daily Report features some thoughts from trainer Richard Mandella on Omaha Beach — but mostly jokes from Mandella, a witty personality who seems at ease with his horse’s situation.


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