Takeaways from this week on the Kentucky Derby 2020 trail

December 11, 2019 12:53pm
Takeaways from this week on the Kentucky Derby 2020 trail
Photo: Elsa Lorieul/NYRA

One points-paying 2020 Kentucky Derby prep remains before the New Year, but it’s a Jan. 1 race that looms larger on the trail. Here’s to looking ahead…

Independence Hall 'on course'

Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, whip campaigns Independence Hall along with Twin Creeks Racing Stables and Kathleen and Robert Verratti, posted to social media Wednesday that the colt is “on course” for his next start in the $150,000 Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct.

Last time out, the son of Constitution emerged as one of the winter book favorites when winning the Nashua (G3) by 12 1/4 lengths. Since then, he has worked three times at trainer Michael Trombetta’s base, the Fair Hill Training Center.

The last two of those came on synthetic, including Monday’s six furlongs in 1:12.80. According to Eclipse, Trombetta caught the breeze 1/5 of a second faster, with a gallop out of seven furlongs in 1:25.80. They called it “a powerful workout.”

The Jerome will mark Independence Hall’s third career start after he broke his maiden at Parx on Sept. 21, Pennsylvania Derby day. The Nashua ran on Nov. 3.

“It falls well on the calendar,” Trombetta recently told the NYRA Press Office. “Off of such a big win, the Remsen was a little close and the Jerome allows us to run over a track and a distance that he's familiar with.”

The Jerome pays out Derby qualifying points on a 10-4-2-1 basis to the Top 4 finishers. Nominations close Dec. 21.

Two for the Kentucky Derby Radar

A big weekend at Los Alamitos for the Bob Baffert barn — he won five races in a row Saturday, a personal Thoroughbred record — also produced a pair of horses to watch for the Derby trail.

First, on Saturday Baffert sent out Ra’ad for a second out start going six furlongs, and he rallied down the long Los Al stretch to win with relative ease. Given his ownership, Baffert says the UAE Derby (G2) is possible next spring.

On Sunday, a colt with perhaps an even bigger future debuted for the “Three Amigos” of Karl Watson, Mike Pegram and Paul Weitman — McKinzie’s ownership group. Despite a tough trip, Azul Coast made it six straight wins for Baffert over two days.

Top Kentucky Derby headlines

 As with Dennis’ Moment, another Albaugh Family Stable runner, Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Thousand Words figures to run twice before the Derby in 2020.

 So, too, does Eight Rings, who Baffert is pointing to Oaklawn Park’s Rebel Stakes (G2) in hopes more time will do him good.

 The $2 million New York-bred Chestertown is officially bound for Steve Asmussen’s string at Fair Grounds to take on open company on the trail.

 Although Shotski took the Remsen Stakes (G2) on the front end, trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer insists his horse is more than a “one dimensional” speedball.

 The Remsen runner-up, Ajaaweed, meanwhile is headed to Florida as Kiaran McLaughlin mulls plans.

A look at Kentucky Derby odds

Via VSiN’s Ron Flatter, based in Las Vegas, the full list of Vegas and offshore offerings for the Derby…

Upcoming Kentucky Derby preps

On the agenda Sunday is the $400,000 Remington Springboard Mile, a race that track stakes coordinator Don Thompson expects to be a “local affair” due to shipping restrictions on horses exiting the Oklahoma City track. An EHV-1 outbreak earlier in the meet would mean horses trying to return to, for instance, Gulfstream Park, would need to remain in quarantine for a month.

As a result, trainer Steve Asmussen is expected to enter as many as five on Wednesday, including last out stakes winners Jungle Runner and Rowdy Yates.

2019 Remington Springboard Mile (LS)

Current Kentucky Derby leaderboard


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