The Kentucky Derby Trail ended Saturday, which means it’s time to parse the Derby qualifying points ladder and see who’s in, who’s on the bubble, and who won’t be discussed as a Kentucky Derby starter.

Super Stock-KD Points
Super Stock and Ricardo Santana Jr. reeled in a Kentucky Derby spot by reeling in Caddo River (2) and heavy favorite Concert Tour in Saturday’s Arkansas Derby. (Image: Coady Photography)

It took 40 points to make the top 20, the usual target number connections shoot at when trying to get their horses into the Churchill Downs starting gate. Churchill Downs holds two spots for the top European and top Japanese horses, but once again, connections from those locales declined their invites, so the Derby will once again be a North American-only endeavor.

There are five horses sitting at 40 points, which would bring the tiebreaker into play if there had been more qualifiers. That tiebreaker is non-restricted stakes earnings. The five are Panadol, Soup and Sandwich, Dynamic One, Crowded Trade, and Sainthood. Outside of Crowded Trade, who finished second in the Gotham and third in the Wood Memorial, the other four were literal one-trick ponies. They turned one key finish in one high-point prep into their spots.

For Panadol, who needed to supplement his resume to get into the Triple Crown races, it was his second in the UAE Derby. For Soup and Sandwich, it was his runner-up to Known Agenda in the Florida Derby. For Dynamic One, it was his runner-up to 72/1 Bourbonic in the Wood Memorial. And for Sainthood, it was his second to Like the King in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on the Turfway Park Tapeta.

Proxy sits on the bubble

Sainthood owns only one victory along with only $47,500 in non-restricted stakes earnings. That puts him last in the field by $87,500. Crowded Trade’s $135,000 makes him 19th.

Your bubble horse is Proxy at 36 points. He went into the Lexington Stakes needing a top-three finish to get into the top 20. That minor prep race at Keeneland offered 20-8-4-2 qualifying points. Proxy finished fourth to grab two points, leaving him four points short.

Proxy likely would get in, considering Weyburn, with his 60 points, isn’t going to run. But Proxy’s trainer, Michael Stidham, said before the Lexington that Proxy probably won’t run the Derby either. That’s surprising, given Proxy’s early form finishing second in the Lecomte in January and the Risen Star in February. But the Godolphin colt lost his momentum in the Louisiana Derby, finishing fourth.

Rombauer needs help

That takes us one spot down to Rombauer. After his third to top qualifier Essential Quality and No. 11 Highly Motivated, Rombauer checks in with 34 points. He’d be the next horse in if Proxy passes. Regardless, Rombauer already has a spot in the Preakness Stakes, courtesy of his El Camino Real Derby victory in February.

Go down one spot from Rombauer and you find Hidden Stash (32 points). Another defection puts the fourth-place Blue Grass finisher in the gate.


2021 Kentucky Derby Points Standings

Rank Horse Points Trainer Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 Essential Quality 140 Brad Cox $2,210,000
2 Hot Rod Charlie 110 Doug O’Neill $962,000
3 Super Stock 109 Steve Asmussen $709,000
4 Like the King 104 Wesley Ward $161,000
5 Known Agenda 102 Todd Pletcher $461,000
6 Rock Your World 100 John Sadler $510,000
7 Bourbonic 100 Todd Pletcher $400,000
8 Medina Spirit 74 Bob Baffert $290,000
9 Concert Tour 70 Bob Baffert $820,000
10 Midnight Bourbon 66 Steve Asmussen $430,000
11 Weyburn 60 Jimmy Jerkens $215,000
12 Mandaloun 52 Brad Cox $270,000
13 Caddo River 50 Brad Cox $320,000
14 Highly Motivated 50 Chad Brown $271,000
15 Helium 50 Mark Casse $255,492
16 Panadol 40 Salem bin Ghadayer $240,000
17 Soup and Sandwich 40 Mark Casse $161,000
18 Dynamic One 40 Todd Pletcher $140,000
19 Crowded Trade 40 Chad Brown $135,000
20 Sainthood 40 Todd Pletcher $47,500

Two horses used Saturday’s preps as their ticket in, and both opened the door via the Arkansas Derby. The first was the surprise winner of that Grade 1, Super Stock. He outran his 12/1 odds with a career-best 106 Equibase Speed Figure that produced a 2 ½-length victory. That victory, which paid $26.40, brought him 100 points. He placed third on the ladder at 109.

As for Caddo River, he needed a first or second to get in. He got the latter, holding off Concert Tour in deep stretch to grab the 40 points needed. He finished with 50.

Your points leader is the likely Derby favorite, Essential Quality. He finished with 140. Hot Rod Charlie at 110 was second.

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