Kentucky Derby Scouting Report: 19 to know in the west

Kentucky Derby Scouting Report: 19 to know in the west
Photo: Alex Evers/Eclipse Sportswire

West coast dominance of the Kentucky Derby in recent years, which includes seven of the last 10 winners hailing from Southern California, has been largely engineered by Bob Baffert.


Outside of two wins by trainer Doug O’Neill (2012, 2016) and one by Art Sherman (2014), Baffert accounts for all the others, including with the ill-fated Medina Spirit this year. At
 least for now, as final adjudication of Medina Spirit’s failed drug test at the Kentucky Derby still awaits from the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission. Yet already as a result of the alleged infraction, host track Churchill Downs has already barred horses trained by Baffert from competing in the Kentucky Derby for the next two years.

The action taken by Churchill Downs against Baffert leaves a convoluted situation in the lead-up to the 148th Kentucky Derby. Four horses trained by Baffert – Corniche, Rockefeller, Messier and Barossa – have already had to vacate Derby qualifying points, per the rules put in place by Churchill Downs. Several more are likely to do the same, as Baffert has 15 2-year-olds currently listed in Kentucky Derby futures in Nevada.

Among Baffert’s owners, the company line to this point has been any decision on possibly transferring horses from the Hall of Fame trainer would come later on the Derby trail when the available qualifying points spike. So it remains to be seen how things ultimately shake out in a multitude of directions. But for now, Baffert’s horses will be ranked in this space as if they are on the path to Louisville, whoever the ultimate trainer.

Here's a look at where the current contenders stand in the West:

(Circa Sports odds - Sire – Trainer – Owner - Derby points)

The leader

Corniche (Circa 11-1, William Hill 6-1 - Quality Road - Bob Baffert - Speedway Stables - 0) Corniche has risen to the head of the class in the west with a perfect 3-for-3 mark that includes wins in the American Pharoah (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile. The champion 2-year-old male in waiting, who was a $1.5 million auction purchase, is also the winter-book favorite in Nevada.

First tier

Doppelganger (Circa 60-1, William Hill 35-1 - Into Mischief - Bob Baffert - Golconda Stable, Madaket Stables, SF Racing, Siena Farm, Starlight Racing, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Robert Masterson, Jay. A. Schoenfarber - 0) Doppleganger served notice earlier this month when launching from off the pace and drawing away late to win his debut by 3 1/2 lengths at Los Alamitos. A $570,000 auction purchase, he returned to work this week for a likely date on the Derby trail. 

Rockefeller (Circa 85-1, William Hill 65-1 - Medaglia d'Oro - Bob Baffert - SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Robert Masterson - 0) Rockefeller was a debut winner at Del Mar in August and came back to be fourth in the American Pharoah. Sent to New York for the 1 1/8-miles Nashua (G3) on Nov. 7, he broke on top and took them all the way to win easily by 2 3/4 lengths. Rockefeller has been working steadily since that effort.

Slow Down Andy (Circa 50-1, William Hill 60-1 - Nyquist - Doug O'Neill - Reddam Racing - 10) He was a debut winner against fellow California-breds at Santa Anita in October and came back to be second in the Golden State Juvenile. Ambitiously placed in the Dec. 11 Los Alamitos (G2) for his two-turn debut, he rewarded his connections with an upset of odds-on favorite Messier. 

Pinehurst (Circa 100-1, William Hill 100-1 - Twirling Candy - Bob Baffert - Golconda Stable, Madaket Stable, SF Racing, Siena Farm, Starlight Racing, Stonestreet Stables, Wave Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Robert Masterson, Jay Schoenfarber - 0) He won his bow sprinting at Del Mar Aug. 1 and came back a month later to take down the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (G1). Pinehurst checked in fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile after pressing winner Corniche on the lead. He returned to the work tab on Dec. 11.

Sir London (Circa 35-1, William Hill 75-1 - Malibu Moon - Simon Callaghan - AMO Racing USA and Qatar Racing - 0) After a pair of runner-ups sprinting to start his career, stretched out to one mile at Los Alamitos and promptly routed a field of maidens by 10 lengths on Dec. 4. The $700,000 auction purchase is targeting the Robert B. Lewis (G3) on Feb. 6 for his first try on the Derby trail. 

Kid Corleone (Circa 135-1, William Hill 150-1 - Shackleford - Doug O'Neill - Roadrunner Racing and Barbara Evenson - 0) After running fourth in his debut at Santa Anita, came back to graduate when beating Sir London by a length at Del Mar on Nov. 13. Kid Corleone is working steadily and is candidate to join the Derby trail in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita a week from Saturday. 

Second tier
Forbidden Kingdom (Circa 150-1, William Hill 75-1 - American Pharoah - Richard Mandella - My Racehorse, Spendthrift Farm - 0) A debut winner at Del Mar this summer, he next tried turf in the Speakeasy Stakes at Santa Anita and ran third. Back to dirt for the Bob Hope (G3) going seven-eighths of a mile, he set the pace into the final furlong before being overtaken by Messier and finishing second. 

Forbidden Kingdom developed a foot abscess after the Bob Hope and has yet to return to the work tab, though Mandella recently told Horse Racing Nation he was expected too soon.

Oviatt Class (Circa 100-1, William Hill 50-1 - Bernardini - Keith Desormeaux - James E. Downey - 2) He graduated at Del Mar in August and came back to be third in the American Pharoah and fifth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He is working steadily at Santa Anita towards a next engagement. 

Newgrange (Circa 125-1, William Hill 100-1 - Violence - Bob Baffert - Golconda Stable, Madaket Stables, SF Racing, Siena Farm, Starlight Racing, Stonestreet Stables, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Robert E. Masterson, Jay A. Schoenfarber - 0) Newgrange debuted sprinting at Del Mar on Nov. 28 and scored by 1 1/2 lengths. He is back working steadily at Santa Anita.

Mackinnon (Circa N/A, William Hill N/A - American Pharoah - Doug O'Neill - ERJ Racing, Madaket Stables, Dave Kenney - 0) After debuting on dirt, he earned his diploma in start No. 3 on turf and has since added wins in the Del Mar Juvenile Turf and Zuma Beach on grass. He is a candidate to return to dirt and join the Derby trail in next week's Sham.  

Ones to watch

Winning Map (Circa 125-1, William Hill 100-1 - Liam's Map - Bob Baffert - Prince Sultan bin Mishal al Saud - 0) He set the pace and drew off late to win his debut sprinting by 4 1/4 lengths in early October at Santa Anita. Winning Map returned in the Bob Hope, beaten some five lengths by stablemate Messier. He has worked four times since that effort.  

Murray (Circa 100-1, William Hill 75-1 - Street Sense - Bob Baffert - Golconda Stable, Madaket Stable, SF Racing, Siena Farm, Starlight Racing, Stonestreet Stables, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Robert Masterson, Jay A. Schoenfarber - 0) He won his debut at Del Mar in late July and came back to be fifth as the odds-on favorite in the Del Mar Futurity (G1). The $300,000 auction purchase has not worked since that effort.

Enbarr (Circa 175-1, William Hill 125-1 - Brody's Cause - Bob Baffert - Baoma Corporation - 0) Purchased for $200,000 at auction, he was second to Pinehurst in his debut at Del Mar and came back to win the Capote Stakes at Los Alamitos on Sept. 18. He has not worked since Nov. 29. 

Straight Up G (Circa 125-1, William Hill 135-1 - Straight Fire - Richard Baltas - Jungle Racing - 0) The homebred for sports-talk personality Jim Rome graduated against fellow California-breds in his second start at Del Mar on Nov. 21 and came back to win the one-mile King Glorious Stakes at Los Alamitos, also restricted to Cal-breds. 

Barossa (Circa 200-1, William Hill 150-1 - Into Mischief - Bob Baffert - 0) The $775,000 auction purchase earned his diploma in October at Santa Anita and came back to finish off the board in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Most recently, he was a non-threatening third in the Los Alamitos Futurity. 

Durante (Circa 250-1, William Hill 175-1 - Distorted Humor - Doug O'Neill - 1) He graduated at Del Mar in his third start on Nov. 14 and came back to earn a qualifying point for the Kentucky Derby when fourth in the Los Alamitos Futurity. 

Kamui (Circa 150-1, William Hill 125-1 - Quality Road - Bob Baffert - Baoma Corp. - 0) He romped by six lengths when graduating at Los Alamitos on Sept. 11, but was no match when fourth in the Bob Hope behind Messier, Forbidden Kingdom and Winning Map.

Montebello (Circa 175-1, William Hill 150-1 - Curlin - Bob Baffert - Golconda Stable, Madaket Stable, SF Racing, Siena Farm, Starlight Racing, Stonestreet Stables, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Robert Masterson, Jay A. Schoenfarber - 0) After winning his debut at Del Mar in August, the New York-bred was sent to Saratoga where he finished second in the Funny Cide Stakes. The $400,000 auction purchase was subsequently second behind stablemate Enbarr in the Capote Stakes. 


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