Kentucky Derby Top 10: Baffert is loaded for 2020

February 19th, 2020

Just how many talented 3-year-olds does trainer Bob Baffert have in contention for the 2020 Kentucky Derby (G1)?

Well, let’s see—Thousand Words, Authentic, Azul Coast, and Eight Rings have all won Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races. Nadal is 2-for-2 with a victory in the San Vicente (G2) under his belt. High Velocity has placed in multiple Derby preps, while Charlatan and West Sider have posted impressive debut victories.

That’s eight Derby contenders, and for all we know there could be others waiting in the wings. Since it’s tough to predict how they’ll develop and progress, I’ll squeeze four of them into my latest Kentucky Derby Top 10.

How would you rank Baffert’s Derby contenders? Let me know if you agree with my assessment.

1. Nadal

Baffert has tentatively slated Nadal to target the Mar. 14 Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park, where the son of Blame will stretch out around two turns for the first time. Baffert mentioned he didn’t train Nadal particularly hard for the San Vicente, so we can expect to see Nadal improve off that hard-fought sprint victory.

2. Tiz the Law

Since Tiz the Law isn’t scheduled to run again until the Mar. 28 Florida Derby (G1), his training schedule figures to be pretty light for the next few weeks. Look for Barclay Tagg to start tightening the screws next month.

3. Sole Volante

You can argue Sole Volante received a perfect pace setup when he rallied to victory in the Sam F. Davis (G3), but he was full of run down the lane (he sprinted the final sixteenth in :06.11) and posted a 102 Brisnet Speed rating. Sole Volante is bred to relish classic distances and is progressing in the right direction.

4. Charlatan

Baffert’s latest sophomore star obliterated his rivals in a 6-furlong maiden dash Sunday at Santa Anita. He won by 5 3/4 lengths in a time of 1:08.85. His effort garnered a 101 Brisnet Speed rating, plus the respect of handicappers across the country.

But how far can Charlatan carry his speed? He’s a son of champion sprinter Speightstown, but his dam Authenticity won multiple graded stakes races running long on dirt. The jury is still out on Charlatan’s stamina, but the raw talent is there.

5. Thousand Words

He returned to the work tab with a 5-furlong move Monday at Santa Anita. He got the distance in 1:00.60 and worked in company with the maiden Mastering.

6. Authentic

His runway victory in the Sham (G3) was flattered when distant runner-up and stablemate Azul Coast returned to win the El Camino Real Derby.

7. As Seen On Tv

The strength of his runner-up effort in the Mucho Macho Man was reiterated when third-place finisher Sole Volante came back and dominated the Sam F. Davis (G3). The Fountain of Youth (G2) will likely be next for As Seen On Tv, who is bred to improve with maturity and longer distances.

8. Chance It

Sole Volante’s win in the Sam F. Davis also flatters Chance It, who parlayed a ground-saving trip into victory in the Mucho Macho Man. He’ll meet As Seen On Tv again in the Fountain of Youth. Chance It blazed 5 furlongs in :58.33 Feb. 17.

9. Gouverneur Morris

The Breeders’ Futurity (G1) runner-up returned in fine form Thursday at Tampa Bay Downs, where he won a 1-mile and 40-yard allowance race by 1 1/4 lengths over the speedy Untitled. His final time of 1:38.88 missed the track record by just 0.02 seconds.

Trainer Todd Pletcher is taking a conservative two-prep approach to prepare Gouverneur Morris for the Derby, which should set him up for a peak effort on the first Saturday in May.

10. Silver Prospector

After he was compromised by a track bias in the Smarty Jones, Silver Prospector rebounded to win the Southwest (G3) in a professional performance. The colt saved ground behind runners for most of the journey, then shifted out and wore down the pacesetter to win by a length in 1:43.01.

Silver Prospector's final time was just 0.01 slower than the 4-year-old Warrior’s Charge ran in the Razorback H. (G3) on the same day, a testament to the quality of Silver Prospector's performance.