Phantom Points: Bob Baffert Trainees Alter the Dynamics of the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

February 5, 2024

Nysos earned 20 phantom points for his win in the Robert B. Lewis (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

By Maribeth Kalinich

When Churchill Downs decided to extend Bob Baffert’s suspension through the 2024 Kentucky Derby that did not preclude his trainees from running in Derby prep races where points are awarded. Although the Baffert horses do not actually receive the points neither do eligible horses.

Saturday, three of Baffert’s horses ran in Derby prep races. Edward C. Alred and Jack Liebau’s Wynstock made a bid in the Grade 3 $800,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. Baoma Corp’s Nysos and Michael E. Pegram, Karl Watson and Paul Weitman’s Wine Me Up in the Grade 3 $200,000 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita.

Unfortunately, Wynstock fared poorly in the Southwest, a race Baffert had won six times before. Conveyance (2010), Castaway (2012) Secret Circle (2012) – both divisions, Super Ninety Nine (2013), Newgrange (2022), Arabian Knight (2023). 

Forwardly place in perfect position Wynstock with Kyle Frey up hit a traffic jam at the half-mile and had to check hard. The Solomini colt just couldn’t recover and faded to last. No points for 11th.

Wynstock had already won the Los Alamitos Futurity worth 10 points, Baffert trainees Zedan Racing Stables’ Coach Prime would have earned 3 and Wine Me Up 2 in the race as well.

Nysos and Wine Me Up did not disappoint out at Santa Anita. They gave Baffert an exacta and earned 20 and 10 phantom points, respectively. 

Keeping a prefect three for three record, the Nyquist colt followed up his year-end performance win in the Grade 2 Bob Hope with an assertively smoking 7-1/2 length victory in the Bob Lewis at a mile. 

Since the Road to the Kentucky Derby series began Zedan Racing Stables’ Muth has won the American Pharoah with stablemate Wine Me Up second. They would have earned 10 and 5 points respectively. 

Muth was second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and Prince of Monaco fifth. 5 points for Muth and 1 for Prince of Monaco, the latter is owned by SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Stonestreet Stables, Dianne Bashor, Robert E. Masterson, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan and Tom Ryan.

Nysos theoretically has 20 points, Wine Me Up 17 points, Muth 15 points. Wynstock 10, Coach Prime 3 and Prince of Monaco 1 point. More than that these are 66 points no horse will add to their total. 

Those points would put these horses on the leader board in the following positions:

1 Fierceness (36)

2 Track Phantom (30)

3 Mystik Dan (21)

4 Hades (20)

5 Nysos (20)

6 Uncle Heavy (19)

7 Locked (19)

8 Liberal Arts (19)

9 Wine Me Up (17)

10 Timberlake (16)

11 Muth (15)

12 Just Steel (15)

13 El Grande O (15)

14 Nash (13)

15 West Saratoga (11)

16 Wynstock (10)

17 Honor Marie (10)

18 Otto the Conqueror (10)

19 Dornoch (10)

20 Catching Freedom (10)

In the official Kentucky Derby updates each race is listed with finishers first through fifth with the points earned next to the name in parenthesis. Next to all of the Baffert trainees’ names are (0). Zero. Phantom points.

So, Baffert has no control if his horses run in the Kentucky Derby, but his horses inadvertently have some control in which horses will run the first Saturday in May.

Prince of Monaco has yet to make his 3-year-old debut. The Speightstown colt won on debut and followed up with wins in the Grade 3 Best Pal at six furlongs Aug. 13 and Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity at seven furlongs Sept. 10 before his disappointing (but point awarding) fifth place in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. 

Baffert had nominated Prince of Monaco to the Los Alamitos Futurity, but he did not make a start. The colt has had no recorded workouts in the past 60 days.

Having never raced a mile or more if we are going to see Prince of Monaco on the Derby Trail it would likely be in the San Felipe on March 2 at 1-1/16 miles.

Muth last ran Jan. 6 when he won the Grade 2 San Vicente. Previously he had finished second to Fierceness in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile after winning the American Pharoah and placing second to Prince of Monaco in the Best Pal. 

Muth bests stablemate Pilot Commander. (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)
Muth takes the San Vicente (Ernie Belmonte/Past The Wire)

Baffert could spot his Good Magic colt in the Grade 2, $1.25 million Rebel at Oaklawn on March 24. Or the Hall of Famer might choose to keep Muth in California and run the colt in the San Felipe with the Grade 1, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby as a follow-up on April 6.

A follow up for the Rebel would logically be the Grade 1, $1.5 million Arkansas Derby for any Baffert horse. Including Nysos who looked mighty powerful in the Lewis and Wine Me Up who has hung consistent. 

Wynstock is a story to be continued. As is how many phantom points Baffert trainees will collect.

Contributing Authors

MariBeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Past the Wire

Maribeth Kalinich, Senior Editor, Graphic Designer

Maribeth Kalinich grew up in a family with a love for horses, a passion for Thoroughbred horse racing and a taste for playing the ponies....

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