Kentucky Derby Scouting Report: Central Division II

January 22, 2020 11:15am

Central Division horses on the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail base during the winter mainly at Oaklawn Park and Fair Grounds, while the leader has settled into a new locale to continue prepping for the first Saturday in May.

Among points races already concluded in this region are Churchill Downs' Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), Remington Park's Springboard Mile and Fair Grounds' Lecomte Stakes (G3). This Friday, Oaklawn Park will stage the Smarty Jones Stakes with points awarded on a 10-4-2-1 scale to the Top 4 finishers.

RELATED: East Coast Kentucky Derby Scouting Report

Here's a closer look at names to know from the Central Division.

(Sire - Trainer - Owner - Derby Points)

The Leader

Dennis’ Moment (Tiznow - Dale Romans - Albaugh Family Stables LLC - 10): He's still the top threat from those in the Central Division of Kentucky Derby hopefuls until proven otherwise. That chance may present itself as early as Feb. 29 in Gulfstream Park's Fountain of Youth (G2). After a stumble in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the Dale Romans trainee deserves a "show me" race to prove his talent in 2020. He's back to breezing after basing in Kentucky through the fall. [current William Hill odds: 12-1]

First Tier

Enforceable (Tapit - Mark Casse - John Oxley - 13): The Lecomte doesn’t have a rich recent history in producing top Derby prospects, but as of late, horses such as War of Will, Instilled Regard and Oxbow have used the race as a successful springboard to the Triple Crown series. Is Enforceable a lock to make the gate for the Kentucky Derby based off his Lecomte win? No. But any subsequent forward move from Mark Casse’s Tapit colt puts him squarely in position, and he figures to enjoy stretching out in distance with the Risen Star (G2) likely next. [current William Hill odds: 30-1]

(Street Sense - Brendan Walsh - Godolphin - 10): He's back in training following surgery in November to remove an ankle chip. If Maxfield's working in February, he could return in time to run in Derby preps offering the most points. Of the horses in the top tier here, the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner is definitely the biggest question mark. But he also may offer the most upside, so he'll remain here until he proves he doesn't belong, either by not returning in time or faltering once back to the racetrack. [current William Hill odds: 10-1]

Shoplifted (Into Mischief - Steve Asmussen - Grandview Equine, Cheyenne Stables, et al - 10): A leading Smarty Jones contender, Shoplifted made a big move forward when winning the Springboard Mile in his most-recent start. Before that, he'd missed the board in two starts at Santa Anita Park, where a deeper surface may have slowed this big horse, a Saratoga maiden winner who's Grade 1-placed.

Silver Prospector (Declaration of War - Steve Asmussen - Ed and Susie Orr - 10): Asmussen's other leading Smarty Jones prospect posted a local work Monday after training since his Kentucky Jockey Club victory at Fair Grounds. Having run on turf but excelled on sloppy dirt, he'll look to put in a winning stakes effort on a fast track Friday. [current William Hill odds: 35-1]

Second Tier

Letmeno (Twirling Candy - Ian Wilkes - Randall Bloch and Six Column Stables et al- 0): Though only a maiden winner, Letmeno has been patiently handled and is training in Florida for a 3-year-old debut. He's already seen Dennis' Moment, finishing fourth in the Iroquois, and hasn't raced since then while looking to remain fresh for 2020. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Lynn’s Map
 (Liam's Map - Mark Casse - HRH Prince Sultan Bin Mishal Al Saud - 0): Casse could win back-to-back Kentucky Derby preps should Lynn’s Map pull through in the Smarty Jones. Although Steve Asmussen saddles a third of the nine horse field at Oaklawn Park, Casse has every reason to believe he can do it. The Liam’s Map colt is jumping up in class following his most recent win at Fair Grounds at the end of December but has already beaten some classy horses and is looking sharp in the morning. He may not go off as the post-time favorite in the Smarty Jones, but he has more than a puncher’s chance. [current William Hill odds: 75-1] 

Mr. Monomoy (Palace Malice - Brad Cox - Madaket Stables, Michael Dubb and Doheny Racing Stable - 2): Cox was pleased with Mr. Monomoy’s third-place effort in the Lecomte. The half-brother of Monomoy Girl moved forward in terms of speed figures and raced at his longest distance to date. He may ultimately be limited in range but has yet to evidence that. [current William Hill odds: 75-1] 

Scabbard (More Than Ready - Eddie Kenneally - Joseph W. Sutton - 6): He's running out of excuse races, as he finished fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and fifth in the Lecomte. But his foundation as a 2-year-old suggests he deserves another chance, especially seeing his troubled second when quickly narrowing the gap late on Dennis' Moment. [current William Hill odds: 75-1] 

Silver State (Hard Spun - Steve Asmussen - Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and Willis Horton Racing LLC - 4): Asmussen has such a large contingent of promising 3-year-olds that Silver State isn’t necessarily his top prospect with "Silver" in his name. We'll determine that a couple of months from now after this colt ran second in the Lecomte, regressing a bit on speed figures when compared to his final race of 2019. But Silver State faced stiffer competition, bobbled at the break and ran into more traffic. He's eligible to move forward next time. [current William Hill odds: 35-1]

Ones to Watch

Answer In (Dialed In - Brad Cox - Robert LaPenta - 4): He submitted a solid effort to just miss in the Springboard Mile, with his race-by-race progression even and encouraging. He began breezing at Oaklawn Park on Jan. 5 and should next be seen on the track there in the Feb. 17 Southwest Stakes (G3). [current William Hill odds: 40-1] 

Basin (Liam's Map - Steve Asmussen - Jackpot Farm - 0): He hasn’t been seen on the track since his Hopeful Stakes (G1) win at Saratoga in early September. Asmussen has him working at Fair Grounds now on the comeback from a minor injury, with targets including Oaklawn's Rebel (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He beat both Shoplifted and Three Technique last year in separate races. This one’s margin for error may be slim. [current William Hill odds: 50-1]

Blackberry Wine (Oxbow - Joe Sharp - Calumet Farm - 0): An allowance win at Fair Grounds has him on to the Risen Star for a stiffer test. There’s enough to like about him given solid performances over a variety of surfaces, and he defeated a nice 3-year-old in Digital going 1 1/16 miles in a faster final time than the Lecomte the same day. [current William Hill odds: 75-1]

Chestertown (Tapit - Steve Asmussen - West Point Thoroughbreds, Chester and Mary Broman et al - 0): Despite being well beaten in Blackberry Wine's allowance flight, there’s always the chance his Tapit “light” has either just turned on or is about to. Give this $2 million New York-bred, who broke his maiden up north, one more race to figure i tout. [current William Hill odds: 50-1]

Digital (Into Mischief - Bret Calhoun - Tom Durant - 0): Calhoun has some serious 3-year-olds, much as he did last year when By My Standards and Mr. Money won graded races for the barn. This one will have to prove he's a fit for the distance after looking poised to go by Blackberry Wine, then running out of steam late in that Fair Grounds allowance. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Finnick the Fierce (Dialed In - Rey Hernandez - Arnaldo Monge and Rey Hernandez - 5): He shouldn't be dismissed after a fourth-place finish in the Lecomte. This horse, blind in his right eye, broke from the rail, meaning he couldn't see his opponents. So he saved ground and went for a closing move without much pace to run into, earning another point after his Kentucky Jockey Club runner-up. [current William Hill odds: no odds]

Gold Street
(Street Boss - Steve Asmussen - Mike McCarthy - 0) He could be the third-best chance for Asmussen to win the Smarty Jones this week, but that doesn’t mean he’s not a contender in his own right. Gold Street comes in to the race off two straight wins, and it’s debatable which race was more impressive-- his maiden breaking effort or his stakes victory last out in Fair Grounds' Sugar Bowl. Both were over the slop, a boost to this front-running type. [current William Hill odds: 100-1 ]

Mailman Money (Goldencents - Bret Calhoun - Allied Racing Stable, LLC - 0): It's another nice one from Calhoun's barn by Goldencents, yet the conditioner will tell you that the only similarities between this colt and Mr. Money are name and sire. Mailman Money is a 2-for-2 Fair Grounds allowance winner bound for the Risen Star. [current William Hill odds: 110-1]

Necker Island (Hard Spun - Stanley Hough - Sagamore Farm LLC and Stanley Hough - 0): He has improved in each race, has been beaten by decent competition and comes into 2020 fresh. He’s been working at Palm Meadows Training Center since the end of December. Necker Island appears to be a need-the-lead type, but that kind of style can sometimes steal early 3-year-old Kentucky Derby preps. His natural speed is his best asset. [current William Hill odds: 60-1]

Remaining Central Division Preps 

 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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