Stay up to speed on the Road to the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks with a weekly roundup of all the latest news and developments.

Kentucky Derby Leaderboard Updates

With 30 qualification points to his credit, the undefeated Essential Quality heads into winter ranked atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Victorious in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1), the son of Tapit has accumulated more than twice as many points as Champagne (G1) hero Jackie’s Warrior, who sits second with 12 points after finishing fourth in the Juvenile.

Meanwhile, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (G1) winner Vequist has raced to the top of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 24 points. Juvenile Fillies runner-up Dayoutoftheoffice sits in second place with 18 points, the majority earned when defeating Vequist in the Frizette (G1). It’s safe to say the two fillies are developing a rivalry, which could very well resume during the winter/spring prep season.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1

Unsurprisingly, Essential Quality is listed as the 10-1 individual betting favorite in Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 1, which is open for betting Thursday through Sunday. One more decent effort should cement Essential Quality’s spot in the Derby starting gate, reducing the risk involved with betting a Derby horse this far out.

Exciting maiden winner Life Is Good and Nyquist S. winner Highly Motivated are the co-second choices at 15-1, while Jackie’s Warrior ranks with a bevy of others at 20-1. The “All Other 3-Year-Old Males” option, covering runners not individually listed, is the clear favorite overall at 6-5.

Also available for betting is the Kentucky Derby Sire Future Wager, which — as its name implies — allows horseplayers to bet on which stallion will sire the Derby winner. Tapit (sire of Essential Quality) and Into Mischief (responsible for 2020 Kentucky Derby winner Authentic) are the individual favorites at 6-1 apiece, but if you want to play against big-name stallions, the “All Other Sires” option is available at 9-2 on the morning line.

Looking Ahead

The Road to the Kentucky Derby resumes on Saturday with the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), a 1 1/16-mile event offering qualification points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis. Held over the main track at Churchill Downs, the Kentucky Jockey Club is expected to draw a quality field with experienced Road to the Kentucky Derby alumni King Fury (0 points) and Super Stock (4 points) among the possible starters.

Also on the Saturday card at Churchill is the Golden Rod (G2), the next stop on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks. Worth 10-4-2-1 to the top four finishers, the 1 1/16-mile race could attract Alcibiades (G1) winner Simply Ravishing (12 points) plus Rags to Riches S. 1-2 finishers Coach (0 points) and Lady Traveler (0 points).

In addition, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby kicks off on Saturday with the Cattleya Sho at Tokyo Racecourse. The field for the 1,600-meter event is still in flux, but the Godolphin runner Lemon Pop — a three-length debut winner dashing 1,300 meters at Tokyo three weeks ago — should have a strong chance to vie for the winner’s share of the 10-4-2-1 point distribution.