Kentucky Derby Top 10: Art Collector impresses in Blue Grass

July 13th, 2020

Keeler Johnson shares his weekly list of top 10 contenders for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1).

1. Tiz the Law

He continues to train forwardly at Belmont Park, where he breezed 5 furlongs in 1:01.10 Wednesday.

We’ll get a chance to gauge the strength of his Belmont Stakes (G1) victory when runner-up Dr Post competes in Saturday’s Haskell Invitational (G1).

2. Honor A. P.

From a speed-figure perspective, Honor A. P. and Tiz the Law are pretty evenly matched. They aren’t expected to face off until the Kentucky Derby, but we’ll get a better feel for who’s been beating tougher competition when Authentic — the distant runner-up behind Honor A. P. in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) — tackles Dr Post in the Haskell.

3. Art Collector

He continued his ascent with a powerful triumph in the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland, where he ran down the three-time graded stakes-winning filly Swiss Skydiver to score by 3 1/2 lengths.

Swiss Skydiver pulled five lengths clear of the rest, while the winner strode to the finish line in 1:48.11.

No matter how you slice it, the Blue Grass was a huge effort from Art Collector, which cements his position as an elite Derby contender.

4. Uncle Chuck

He’s 2-for-2, with solid speed figures under his belt, but Uncle Chuck is playing catch up compared to Tiz the Law, Honor A. P., and Art Collector.

This Bob Baffert trainee has the pedigree and potential to be a serious Derby threat, but others have beaten tougher competition.

On the bright side, we won’t have to wait until the Derby to find out how Uncle Chuck stacks up against the best of the division. He is tentatively slated to face Tiz the Law in the Aug. 8 Travers (G1) at Saratoga.

5. Authentic

Considering the Santa Anita Derby was his first start off a three-month break, Authentic didn’t run a bad race, considering he switched to rating tactics and stretched out to 1 1/8 miles.

You can argue Authentic might be best running a bit shorter — his pedigree suggests this might be the case — but he’ll get another chance to prove himself over 1 1/8 miles in the Haskell.

6. King Guillermo

He continues to fly under the radar at Gulfstream Park, where he clocked a half-mile in :48.03 Saturday.

King Guillermo is a tough colt to gauge. He showed significant talent during the first half of the season but will enter the Derby off a four-month layoff. There’s no telling how he might improve (or regress?) over the course of the summer, though the improvement he showed from age 2 to 3 hints he’ll keep progressing leading up to Derby Day.

7. Dr Post

He wrapped up his preparations for the Haskell with a half-mile work in :48 flat over the Belmont Park training track Sunday.

This improving colt gamely chased Tiz the Law down the homestretch of the Belmont Stakes and figures to give Authentic a run for the money at Monmouth Park.

8. Mystic Guide

This beautifully bred colt will join the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the Peter Pan (G3) on Thursday at Saratoga, where he’ll likely need a first-place finish to qualify to the Derby.

Mystic Guide ran deceptively well when he rallied to finish second in a 1 1/16-mile allowance at Belmont last month, considering the one-turn race unfolded in fast fashion from start to finish. Stretching back out around two turns should enhance his chances.

9. Cezanne

He went 2-for-2 against maiden and allowance company, and now Cezanne will test deeper waters against Honor A. P. in the Aug 1. Shared Belief S. at Del Mar.

It’s a tough spot, considering victory might be necessary to ensure Cezanne a starting slot in the Kentucky Derby. But if he isn’t up to handling Honor A. P. a month before the Derby, he can always regroup and target the Preakness (G3) four weeks later.

10. Shared Sense

This improving Godolphin homebred finally got a fair setup in the Indiana Derby (G3) and rallied strongly to score by three lengths, over the capable Major Fed.

He is bred top to bottom to relish classic distances and sprinted the final furlong in :12.23, which suggests this son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense can continue to improve with longer distances and maturity.