Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: Jan. 18, 2021

January 18th, 2021

Did you know the 2021 Kentucky Derby is barely more than 100 days away?

That’s right. Barring another unforeseen postponement (let’s not have a repeat of 2020!), the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby (G1) will take place on May 1, just 103 days from now.

Time flies fast on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, so let’s kick off the week by reviewing the latest Derby trail news and notes. We’ll also check in on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks.

Changes on the Leaderboard

The third time was the charm for Midnight Bourbon. After placing second in the Iroquois (G3) and third in the Champagne (G1), Midnight Bourbon broke through with a signature victory in Saturday’s 1 1/16-mile Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds, leading all the way to spring a mild upset.

It can be argued Midnight Bourbon benefited from a favorable trip, escaping with an uncontested lead through modest fractions of :24.68, :48.99, and 1:13.57. But the Steve Asmussen-trained youngster fully capitalized on his advantage, finishing fast and showing tenacity down the stretch to defeat Proxy and Mandaloun by a length in 1:44.41. Santa Cruiser completed the superfecta, 8 3/4 lengths behind Mandaloun.

Midnight Bourbon's victory secured the son of Tiznow 10 Kentucky Derby qualification points, placing him third on the leaderboard with 16 points total. Proxy also ranks in the Top 20, debuting in 18th place with four points to his credit.

On the Work Tab

Cowan: In preparation for a start in the Smarty Jones S., Cowan blazed a bullet 5 furlongs in :59 at Oaklawn Park last Tuesday.

Eagle Orb: In his first workout since finishing second in the Jerome S., Eagle Orb breezed an easy half-mile in :51.11 over the Belmont Park training track on Wednesday.

Essential Quality: Recorded his fifth workout of the winter on Sunday at Fair Grounds, cruising 5 furlongs in 1:01.40.

Hot Rod Charlie: Stepped up to 6 furlongs for his fourth workout of the winter, getting the distance in 1:13.40 at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Jackie’s Warrior: Spun through a straightforward half-mile in :50.00 on Tuesday at Fair Grounds, his third workout of the winter.

Keepmeinmind: Breezed a quick 4 furlongs at Oaklawn Park last Tuesday, recording a time of :48.80.

Life Is Good: Less than 10 days after winning the Sham (G3), the early Kentucky Derby favorite rocketed a half-mile in :47 on Jan. 11 at Santa Anita.

Medina Spirit: Took things easy on Saturday at Santa Anita, traveling a modest half-mile in :49.80.

Rombauer: Cruised through 5 furlongs in 1:01.60 at Santa Anita on Saturday.

Sittin On Go: Flashed serious speed in a Saturday workout at Gulfstream Park, blazing 5 furlongs in :59.89.

Smiley Sobotka: Joined stablemate Sittin On Go on the Saturday work tab at Gulfstream Park, clocking 5 furlongs in 1:00.29.

Spielberg: Worked a quick 6 furlongs in 1:12.80 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Shortly before Midnight Bourbon made headlines with his Lecomte triumph, Charlie’s Penny joined the Road to the Kentucky Oaks with an upset victory in the Silverbulletday S. at Fair Grounds. After settling in third place behind pedestrian fractions of :25.66, :49.96, and 1:14.55, Charlie’s Penny pounced to the front and drove clear to score by 3 1/4 lengths over Souper Sensational, Moon Swag, and Sun Path.

Charlie’s Penny’s final time of 1:43.80 for one mile and 70 yards was modest, considering Midnight Bourbon required just 1:44.41 to run 40 yards farther in the Lecomte. But there was no denying her superiority at the finish, and Charlie’s Penny now ranks ninth on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 10 qualification points.

Souper Sensational has also debuted in the Top 14, settling in 11th place with four points. The daughter of Curlin ran deceptively well under challenging circumstances, getting bounced around in traffic early on before rallying wide from behind the slow pace. Trained by Mark Casse, Souper Sensational is eligible to improve with a clean trip in her next start.

Looking Ahead on the Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Road to the Kentucky Oaks will both continue next week, though Saturday will be surprisingly void of action. The Derby trail will take a trip to Oaklawn Park for Friday’s Smarty Jones S., which drew a field of seven led by Remington Springboard Mile runner-up Cowan and the exciting Churchill Downs maiden winner Caddo River.

Meanwhile, the Oaks trail will bypass Oaklawn in favor of a stop at Aqueduct, where the Busanda S. will take place on Sunday. The field is still in flux, though the 1 1/8-mile race is expected to attract Diamond Ore, a recent Tampa Bay Downs maiden winner famed as a half-sister to four-time Grade 1 winner Arrogate.