Kentucky Derby and Oaks roundup: March 29, 2021

March 29th, 2021

Five weeks out from the “Run for the Roses,” the action is really heating up on the Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1) trails.

Let’s look back on a busy Saturday of racing and recap the latest news and notes.

Changes on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard

Three major Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races took place around the world last week, and when the dust settled, the leaderboard was virtually unrecognizable from the week before.

  • Like the King (104 points, second place) ascended highest up the rankings, after he rallied to a comfortable victory in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) over the Tapeta track at Turfway Park. Previously the runner-up in the John Battaglia Memorial S., Like the King timed his rally perfectly, forged past Hockey Dad (20 points, not a Triple Crown nominee), and held off a late charge from Sainthood (40 points, 13th place) to win by a length.
  • Known Agenda (102 points, third place) also made a big move up. The Todd Pletcher trainee has improved by leaps and bounds since he added blinkers, with a 2 3/4-length triumph in the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park the latest testament to his talent. The son of Curlin settled in mid-pack early, before he rallied to defeat Soup and Sandwich (40 points, 12th place) and Greatest Honour (80 points, fifth) with relative ease.
  • In Dubai, Rebel’s Romance (100 points, fourth place) secured a Kentucky Derby starting spot with a blowout win in the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan. The Godolphin homebred dominated by 5 1/2 lengths, over Panadol (40 points, not a Triple Crown nominee) and New Treasure (20 points, not a Triple Crown nominee), though it is unclear if Rebel’s Romance will make the trip to Churchill Downs.

The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby wrapped up with the Fukuryu S. at Nakayama Racecourse. God Selection (40 points, not a Triple Crown nominee) posted an upset victory and will be invited to participate in the Kentucky Derby, though his connections will have to pay a $6,000 late nomination fee by March 29 to make God Selection eligible without a $200,000 payment at entry time.

Hyacinth winner La Perouse (30 points, first place) did not participate in the Fukuryu, but remains the top-ranked Triple Crown nominee on the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool 5

Following the defection of Life Is Good, who was injured during a workout, Essential Quality emerged as the 4-1 favorite in the fifth and final Kentucky Derby Future Wager Pool of 2020-2021. Check out the complete list of wagering interests and final odds.

On the work tab

Brooklyn Strong

In his final workout the Wood Memorial (G2), last year’s Remsen (G2) winner clocked six furlongs in 1:13.42 at Parx on Saturday.

Caddo River

He turned in a half-mile workout Saturday at Oaklawn Park, where he ran the distance in :48.

Candy Man Rocket

He breezed a half-mile in :50.20 Sunday at Payson Park.

Capo Kane

He fired off four furlongs in :48.21 Saturday at Parx.

Concert Tour

On Saturday at Santa Anita, the Rebel (G2) winner returned to the work tab with five furlongs in 1:00.80.

Crowded Trade

He took to the Belmont Park training track Saturday and breezed a half-mile in :48.95.

Dream Shake

He signaled his readiness for the Santa Anita Derby (G1) with a five-furlong work in :59.80 Saturday at Santa Anita.

Essential Quality

The Kentucky Derby favorite turned in his final Blue Grass (G2) workout Saturday at Fair Grounds, where he covered five furlongs in 1:00.40.

Get Her Number

He fired off six furlongs in 1:13.60 Saturday at San Luis Rey Training Center.


Three weeks after he won the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), Helium returned to the work tab with a half-mile in :49.25 Saturday at Palm Meadows.

Hidden Stash

He cruised through five furlongs in 1:02.60 Thursday at Payson Park.

Highly Motivated

He traveled four furlongs in :48.95 over the Belmont Park training track Saturday.


He worked five furlongs in 1:00.80 Sunday at Santa Anita.


He bounced back from a disappointing effort in the Rebel to breeze five furlongs in 1:00 Saturday at Oaklawn Park.

Medina Spirit

The Santa Anita Derby favorite took another step toward his first Grade 1 test when he sped through four furlongs in :48 Sunday at Santa Anita.


He posted a bullet workout Sunday at Palm Meadows, with a half-mile in :47.60.

Risk Tasking

He clocked a half-mile in :49.95 over the Belmont Park training track Saturday.

Roman Centurian

He continued his preparations for the Santa Anita Derby with a five-furlongs breeze in 1:00.40 Saturday at Santa Anita.


He worked five furlongs in 1:00.60 Saturday at Santa Anita.

Sittin On Go

He breezed five furlongs in 1:00.88 Saturday at Gulfstream.

The Great One

Ready to take aim at the Santa Anita Derby, The Great One worked six furlongs Saturday at Santa Anita, where he got the distance in 1:14.20.


He wrapped up his preparations for the Wood Memorial with six furlongs in 1:16.60 over the Belmont Park training track Friday.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

A pair of Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep races complemented the action on the Road to the Kentucky Derby last week and introduced several new names to the leaderboard.

  • At Gulfstream Park, Crazy Beautiful (128 points, second place) unleashed a powerful rally from last place to nab the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) by 2 1/4 lengths. Millefeuille (44 points, eighth place) seemed destined for victory, after she smoothly took command on the far turn, but down the lane, she proved no match for Crazy Beautiful. Competitive Speed (30 points, not a Kentucky Oaks nominee) settled for third place.
  • At Turfway Park, the Bourbonette Oaks saw Adventuring (50 points) rally wide to post a comfortable victory over frontrunning longshot Spritz (20 points). Neither filly has been nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, so we’ll have to wait and see if their connections are interested in targeting the showdown at Churchill Downs.

Looking ahead

Another busy week lies ahead, with no fewer than nine Kentucky Derby and Oaks qualifiers on the agenda. Here’s a breakdown of all the races you need to follow.

  • April 1: Cardinal Condition S. at Chelmsford City, 30-12-6-3 — The European Road to the Kentucky Derby wraps up with this one-mile test over Chelmsford’s all-weather track. Oo De Lally, who finished third in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Condition S. one month ago, is among the early entries.
  • April 2: Beaumont (G3) at Keeneland, 10-4-2-1 — The Keeneland spring meet opens with this minor, seven-furlong Kentucky Oaks qualifier. Forward Gal (G3) runner-up Lady Traveler figures to attract support on the cut back in distance.
  • April 3: Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, 100-40-20-10 — This important steppingstone toward the Kentucky Derby is expected to mark Essential Quality's second and final prep for the Run for the Roses.
  • April 3: Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita, 100-40-20-10 — Historically one of the most important and productive Kentucky Derby preps, the Santa Anita Derby is projected to draw a large field, led by Robert B. Lewis (G3) winner Medina Spirit.
  • April 3: Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, 100-40-20-10 — Withers (G3) winner Risk Taking and Gotham (G3) victor Weyburn are among the main names taking aim at this Kentucky Derby qualifier.
  • April 3: Santa Anita Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita, 100-40-20-10 — Santa Anita’s signature prep for the Kentucky Oaks looks like the target for Santa Ysabel (G3) 1-2 finishers Beautiful Gift and Moraz.
  • April 3: Gazelle (G3) at Aqueduct, 100-40-20-10 — A rare Kentucky Oaks prep held over 1 1/8 miles, the Gazelle could attract Search Results, the undefeated winner of the Busher S. at Aqueduct last month.
  • April 3: Ashland (G1) at Keeneland, 100-40-20-10 — The most prestigious Kentucky Oaks prep of the week may draw the best field, as well, with Alcibiades (G1) winner Simply Ravishing and Honeybee (G3) heroine Will’s Secret among the expected starters.
  • April 3: Fantasy (G3) at Oaklawn, 100-40-20-10 — The final 2020-2021 Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifier has drawn a field of seven, led by Honeybee (G3) runner-up Pauline’s Pearl and Golden Rod (G2) third-place finisher Coach.

Enjoy the racing!