Several "bubble" horses in good shape to make Kentucky Derby

April 12th, 2021

The 2021 Road to the Kentucky Derby prep series is complete, but the field for the May 1 classic at Churchill Downs remains somewhat fluid.

As of the afternoon of April 12, the 20th horse on the Derby leaderboard is Sainthood, who has accumulated 40 points. However, the points cutoff is expected to be much lower, as the connections of a pair of horses in the top 20 are reportedly cool at pressing on to the Derby.

Who might opt out of the Kentucky Derby?

Those two are the New York-based Weyburn and Crowded Trade, who finished first and second, respectively, in the Gotham (G3) in early March. Weyburn subsequently finished fourth in the Wood Memorial (G2), one place behind Crowded Trade. The connections of Weyburn are inclined to point toward the Belmont S. (G1), while those of Crowded Trade, who feel the colt could be distance limited, might wait for the Preakness (G1).

Who are the "bubble" horses likely to fill the Derby field?

Just outside the top 20 is Proxy, whose fourth-place run in last weekend's Lexington (G3) suggests that he, too, is a likely non-starter for the Derby.

With three potential openings into the field of 20, the next three "bubble" horses are Rombauer, Hidden Stash, and Dream Shake. The long-winded Rombauer most recently finished third in the Blue Grass (G2), while Hidden Stash finished a more distant fourth in the Keeneland fixture. Dream Shake, a well-beaten third in both the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and San Felipe (G2), is an uncertain participant, with connections reportedly looking at the Pat Day Mile (G2) on the Derby Day undercard or the Preakness.

Additional defections in the next week or two are always possible, and the next three after Dream Shake are O Besos, Get Her Number, and Hozier. O Besos was a surprise third in the Louisiana Derby (G2) last time out, while Get Her Number and Hozier both finished up the track in last weekend's Arkansas Derby (G1).

Unfortunately for King Fury, who unlike most of the "bubble" horses, is coming off a victory (an impressive one in the Lexington), he would need quite a few defections to sneak into the Kentucky Derby. However, his connections had to have expected it would be a longshot, as the colt had not raced this season before the Lexington, which awarded only 20 Derby qualifying points to the winner.

Trainer Kenny McPeek said after the Lexington that King Fury would be considered for the May 15 Preakness, a race he won in October with the filly Swiss Skydiver.