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.
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|
|8||Medina Spirit||74||Bob Baffert||$290,000|
|9||Concert Tour||70||Bob Baffert||$820,000|
|10||Midnight Bourbon||66||Steve Asmussen||$430,000|
|13||Caddo River||50||Brad Cox||$320,000|
|14||Highly Motivated||50||Chad Brown||$271,000|
|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|
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.