Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: Feb. 15, 2021

February 15th, 2021

The Road to the Kentucky Derby took a couple of notable twists last week as Mandaloun and Rombauer—both placed in previous prep races—stepped up to secure their first victories in the series. The Road to the Kentucky Oaks produced a similar weekend result, with Clairiere stepping up to seize command of the midwinter leaderboard.

Let’s catch up on everything that unfolded during a busy week:

Changes on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

The running of the Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds on Saturday unsurprisingly shook up the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. As the first leg of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series, the 1 1/8-mile event awarded qualification points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis, making it the most valuable prep race run to date.

Bettors established Lecomte (G3) third-place finisher Mandaloun as the narrow favorite, and the Brad Cox trainee delivered on expectations with a sharp performance. Equipped with blinkers for his second start around two turns, the son of Into Mischief tracked fractions of :23.65, :48.45, and 1:12.74 from third place, then edged clear down the stretch to score by 1 1/4 lengths in 1:50.39.

With 52 points to his credit, Mandaloun has surpassed champion two-year-old Essential Quality (30 points) to rank atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard. Proxy, runner-up in both the Risen Star and the Lecomte, has advanced to fourth place with 24 points, right behind Lecomte winner and Risen Star third-place finisher Midnight Bourbon (third place, 26 points).

Rombauer also rallied up the rankings after charging to a tenacious victory in the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields. Winning the 1 1/8-mile Tapeta test by a neck allowed last year’s American Pharoah (G1) runner-up to settle sixth on the leaderboard with 14 points.

Recent Maiden Winners

Trainer Todd Pletcher continues to enjoy strong success with three-year-old maidens. Gritty victories last week from Atlantic Road and Sainthood have added further depth to Pletcher’s up-and-coming roster of Road to the Kentucky Derby contenders.

Manitowish and Run Classic are other recent maiden winners worth following. Check out all the details in the latest installment of our Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch series.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 3 was open for betting from Feb. 12-14, and for the third straight pool, undefeated Sham (G3) winner Life Is Good (7-1) closed as the narrow individual favorite over champion two-year-old Essential Quality (8-1). The “All Other Three Year Olds” option was the overall choice at 3-1. Check out our recap for a complete list of final odds.

On the Work Tab

Caddo River: Took to the Fair Grounds main track on Sunday for a half-mile workout in :50.20.

Essential Quality: Stayed sharp for the Southwest (G3) by clocking five furlongs in 1:02.40 on Sunday at Fair Grounds.

Get Her Number: Took another step toward his sophomore debut when breezing a half-mile in :49.40 on Tuesday at the San Luis Rey Training Center.

Greatest Honour: In his first workout since romping to victory in the Holy Bull (G3), Greatest Honour breezed four furlongs in a modest :50.60 on Saturday at Payson Park.

Hot Rod Charlie: Cruised a slow half-mile in :51.20 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Jackie’s Warrior: Completed his preparations for the Southwest by working four furlongs in :49.40 on Monday at Fair Grounds.

Life Is Good: Sped five furlongs in a quick 1:00.80 on Monday at Santa Anita.

Medina Spirit: Worked a half mile in company with Spielberg on Sunday at Santa Anita, getting the distance in :49.00.

Prime Factor: Returned to the Palm Beach Downs work tab with a half mile in :48.73 on Saturday, his first breeze since fading to finish third in the Holy Bull (G3).

Roman Centurian: Posted a half mile in :48.80 on Friday at Santa Anita, his first workout since finishing second in the Robert B. Lewis (G3).

Sittin On Go: Breezed four furlongs in :48.61 on Saturday at Gulfstream Park.

Spielberg: Joined Medina Spirit on the Sunday work tab at Santa Anita, breezing a half mile in :49.00 alongside his stablemate.

Super Stock: Cruised four furlongs in :50.20 on Monday at Fair Grounds.

Tarantino: The surprise Holy Bull runner-up returned to the work tab on Sunday, negotiating a half-mile in :49.45.

The Great One: Stretched out over six furlongs on Saturday at Santa Anita, traveling the distance in 1:15.80.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

The Kentucky Oaks Championship Series kicked off on Saturday at Fair Grounds with the running of the 1 1/16-mile Rachel Alexandra (G2). Travel Column was the favorite after rallying to defeat Clairiere in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, but in their rematch at Fair Grounds, a change in tactics allowed Clairiere to turn the tables.

Indeed, a slow start left Clairiere in last place early on as Travel Column tracked runaway leader Off We Go through splits of :23.73 and :47.99. When the front runner faded, Travel Column struck the front on the far turn, and while she stayed on strongly down the lane, the surging Clairiere had more momentum. In the final furlong, Clairiere edged past Travel Column to win by a neck in 1:45.34, racing to the top of the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 54 points.

Travel Column lost little in defeat, pulling 6 1/2 lengths clear of the rest, and she now sits second on the leaderboard with 32 points. Meanwhile, distant Rachel Alexandra third-place finisher Moon Swag joined the Top 14 with a total of 12 points to her credit, good enough to rank ninth.

Sadly, two accomplished fillies were removed from Kentucky Oaks consideration last week. Las Virgenes (G3) winner Moonlight d’Oro and Silverbulletday S. heroine Charlie’s Penny both exited the scene with minor injuries, though they’re expected to resume training later in the year. We wish their connections the best!

Looking Ahead

The Southwest (G3) at Oaklawn was originally slated to take place on Presidents’ Day, but winter weather prompted its postponement until Sunday. That means we’ll have to wait another week to see Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) winner Essential Quality, Champagne (G1) hero Jackie’s Warrior,and Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) winner Keepmeinmind vie for the winner’s share of 17 qualification points (split 10-4-2-1 among the first four finishers).

Meanwhile, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby resumes on Sunday with the 1,600-meter Hyacinth S. at Tokyo Racecourse, which awards qualification points to the top four finishers on a 30-12-6-3 basis. Final entries have not yet been drawn, though early entries include last year’s Cattleya S. runner-up Takeru Pegasus and third-place finisher Plus Ultra. A victory by either colt would propel him to the top of the local leaderboard.

Lastly, the Road to the Kentucky Oaks takes a trip to Dubai on Thursday for the 1,900-meter UAE Oaks (G3) at Meydan, a lucrative prize awarding 85 qualification points (split 50-20-10-5) to the top four finishers.

Enjoy the racing!