Stay up to speed on the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a weekly roundup of all the latest news and developments:
Changes on the Leaderboard
Art Collector cemented his position as an elite Kentucky Derby (G1) contender with a resounding 3 1/2-length victory in Saturday’s Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, vaulting to fourth place on the leaderboard with 100 qualification points. The filly Swiss Skydiver also ran admirably to gain the runner-up spot and currently ranks 13th with 40 points, one slot behind Enforceable, who settled with 43 points after rallying to finish fourth in the Blue Grass.
Splitting Swiss Skydiver and Enforceable across the finish line was Rushie, previously third in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The improving colt has earned 40 points but isn’t currently nominated to the Triple Crown; if not for this caveat, he would rank 16th.
Shared Sense is in the same boat. A clear-cut winner of Wednesday’s Indiana Derby (G3), Shared Sense isn’t a Triple Crown nominee but boasts 20 qualification points and could still be made eligible for the Derby at entry time. At least Indiana Derby runner-up Major Fed is nominated to the Triple Crown, and the eight points he secured on Wednesday raised his total to 38 points, placing him 16th on the leaderboard.
Also on Wednesday, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby wrapped up with the Japan Dirt Derby at Oi Racecourse, in which Danon Pharaoh sprung a 40-1 upset while series leader Cafe Pharoah faded to finish off the board. According to Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form, neither colt is expected to ship to Churchill Downs, which would open the door for Dieu du Vin (winner of the Cattleya Sho last fall) to receive an invitation.
The European Road to the Kentucky Derby likewise drew to a close last week with the Ballysax (G3) at Dundalk in Ireland. Nobel Prize showed tenacity to score a front-running victory and secure 30 qualification points, but the Aidan O’Brien trainee is not currently Triple Crown nominated.
Meanwhile, Choice of Mine fought on to finish fourth in the Ballysax, and the three points he secured were sufficient to make him the top-ranked Triple Crown nominee with 11 points to his credit. Bred and owned by Charles E. Fipke, whose Golden Soul finished second in the 2013 Kentucky Derby, Choice of Mine previously recorded a runner-up effort in the Patton S. at Dundalk and is in line to receive an invitation to compete at Churchill Downs.
On the Work Tab
Authentic: Aiming for a start in the Haskell (G1), Authentic blazed 5 furlongs in :59.80 on Saturday at Del Mar.
Candy Tycoon: Wrapped up his preparations for the Peter Pan (G3) when breezing 5 furlongs in 1:02.37 over the Saratoga training track on Thursday.
Cezanne: Cranked out a snappy 4 furlongs in :47.80 on Saturday at Del Mar.
Dean Martini: Ohio Derby (G3) winner returned to the work tab with a half-mile in :48.60 on Tuesday at Churchill Downs.
Dr Post: Sped a half-mile in :48.80 over the Belmont Park training track on Sunday, completing his preparations for the Haskell.
Eight Rings: Rocketed 5 furlongs in a blazing :58.80 at Del Mar on Sunday, his second straight sub-:59 breeze since leaving Los Alamitos and returning to trainer Bob Baffert’s primary barn.
Honor A. P.: Turned in a stamina-building workout on Sunday at Del Mar, clocking 7 furlongs in 1:29.20.
King Guillermo: Cruised 4 furlongs in a quick :48.03 on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.
Mischevious Alex: Turned in a bullet 5-furlong workout on Monday at Parx Racing, traveling the distance in :59.57.
Modernist: Slated for a return to action in the Peter Pan, Modernist cruised 4 furlongs in :49.55 over the Belmont training track on Sunday.
Mystic Guide: Scheduled to make his stakes debut in the Peter Pan, Mystic Guide clocked a half-mile in :48.80 on Saturday at Fair Hill.
Ny Traffic: Burned up the Gulfstream main track with 5 furlongs in :59.67 on Sunday.
Pneumatic: Shipped to Saratoga and breezed 5 furlongs in 1:00.83 on Monday.
South Bend: Ohio Derby runner-up took a spin over the Churchill Downs main track on Saturday, cruising a half-mile in :49.60.
Storm the Court: Gave turf a try on Sunday at Del Mar, working a half-mile in :50.00.
Tiz the Law: Stayed sharp with 5 furlongs in 1:01.10 on Wednesday at Belmont Park.
Uncle Chuck: In his first workout since powering to victory in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3), Uncle Chuck sped a half-mile over the Del Mar main track on Monday, traversing the distance in :47.60.
News and Notes on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks
The stock of Swiss Skydiver rose for two reasons last week. The first positive development came when Speech—distant runner-up behind Swiss Skydiver in the Santa Anita Oaks (G2)—rolled to a record-setting win in Saturday’s Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, earning 100 qualification points to rank second on the leaderboard with 160 points overall.
Then Swiss Skydiver herself ran a huge race against males in the Blue Grass, and since the 40 points she secured apply to her total on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks, she jumped to 350 points to extend her control of the leaderboard.
Venetian Harbor (5th place, 90 points) and Bonny South (3rd place, 110 points) picked up points as well by finishing second and fourth in the Ashland, split to the finish line by newcomer Envoutante, who debuts in 20th on the leaderboard with 20 points.
Earlier in the week, Shedaresthedevil (3rd place, 90 points) locked up a spot in the Kentucky Oaks starting gate by posting a dominant victory in Wednesday’s Indiana Oaks (G3) at Indiana Grand. The talented sprinter Four Graces (13th place, 40 points) also made a great impression while breaking a track record in Keeneland’s Beaumont (G3), but her connections have indicated the Kentucky Oaks is an unlikely target for their speedy filly.
Following last week’s hectic action, the Road to the Kentucky Derby will slow down only mildly with two more prep races on the upcoming agenda. The popular Saratoga meet opens on Thursday with the 1 1/8-mile Peter Pan awarding qualification points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis. Nine horses have been entered, including Risen Star (G2) winner Modernist, Fountain of Youth (G2) runner-up Candy Tycoon, and the promising Godolphin homebred Mystic Guide.
The Peter Pan is a nice prize, but the Haskell on Saturday at Monmouth Park is twice as lucrative with 100-40-20-10 points at stake. Belmont Stakes (G1) runner-up Dr Post is expected to square off against Santa Anita Derby runner-up Authentic in a cross-country battle with major Kentucky Derby implications.