The Long and Winding Road to the Roses, with Detours

March 24, 2020

Usually at this time of year, we are close to the end of the road for Kentucky Derby prep races, those offering the greatest points. Out of the nine prep races left on the original schedule there are only three still scheduled to run — the Florida Derby, the Fukuryu and the Santa Anita Derby. All set to run sans fans in the stands. 

Barring unseen events, the Florida Derby should go off on March 28th at Gulfstream Park. Because casinos are closed and there is no on-track handle reducing revenue, there will be a purse reduction to the Grade 1 race. Running with prize money of $750,000, the 1 1/8 mile contest is still eligible for it’s points of 100 for the win, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth place. 

Also scheduled for March 28th is the Fukuryu at Nakayama, part of the Japanese Road. The race awards 40, 16, 8 and 4 points from first through forth place, respectively. 

A week later, the Santa Anita Derby is set for April 4th. Should the Grade 1 run on that date it will be the last of the scheduled series and offers 100 points to the winner. The next prep would be the rescheduled Arkansas Derby on the first Saturday in May. 

The path to the first Saturday in September. 

The Florida Derby will be sort of a rematch between Ete Indien with a well-earned 54 points, and Candy Tycoon (Twirling Candy), awarded 20 points for placing second to Ete Indien (Summer Front) in his Fountain of Youth (G2) romp. Tiz the Law (Constitution), who collected 20 points in the Holy Bull (G3) for a total of 22, will also fight to move up in standings on Saturday.  

Also vying for points will be another son of Constitution, Gouverneur Morris, trained by Todd Pletcher, winner of his last start. Independence Hall, the third son of Constitution in the mix, conditioned by Michael Trombetta placed second in the Sam F. Davis G3. The Curlin colt, Ajaaweed, finished third in the Sam F. Davis for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. Kelly Breen trained As Seen On TV (Lookin At Lucky) hit the board third in the Fountain of Youth. 

Mark Henning’s War Front colt, Americanus runs back off a win at Gulfstream. Disc Jockey, the Saffie Joseph Jr. conditioned son of Bodemeister starts after a second place in the American Fabius. Rounding out the possible entries for Saturday, Dale Romans brings Rogue Element by Honor Code last ran at Gulfstream finishing second. 

This past weekend saw a shakeup on the Derby leaderboard after the Louisiana Derby. The Brad Cox conditioned colt Wells Bayou rocketed to number one after earning 100 points for the win in a gate to wire duel with Ny Traffic, who placed second for 40 points moving him to number seven. 

Modernist moved into the second gaining 20 points for third to add to his 50 points earned in Division Two of the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds on Feb. 15 after a tight duel with Ny Traffic, placing third in the day. Mr. Monomoy took Division One but is off the leaderboard due to injury. 

What would have been. 

With the announcement of the cancellation of Keeneland’s spring meet the 100 points April 4 Blue Grass was postponed, as was the April 11th Lexington, garnering 20 points. The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 4 was also postponed when live racing was cancelled at that facility. The winner would have been awarded 100 points. 

On March 15th, Sunland Park announced the 50 point Sunland Derby to be held March 22nd was officially canceled. This came just three days after stating that the $700,000 race would run without fans. After the 10-race card on Sunday racing would be suspended for the remainder of the current meet set to end April 21 as the entire racetrack & casino would shuttered for three weeks. 

The British Horseracing Authority announced March 17th that the United Kingdom is canceling all racing from March 18 through the end of April which includes the Cardinal Condition Stakes (30-12-6-3) at Chelmsford City on April 2nd, part of the European Road series. 

After planning to run with no spectators, the Dubai World Cup meet at Meydan was cancelled including the $2.5 million, 100 point UAE Derby set to run March 28th. Entries that shipped weeks ago, some directly from the Saudi Cup, will now be required to quarantine for 14 days upon return to the U.S. and will be delayed in training and entries. Jockeys as well will be required to quarantine and ineligible to pick up mounts in the upcoming derby weekends. 

Usually the last race for points, the Arkansas Derby scheduled for April 11th for Oaklawn Park will now be contested May 5th. With the Kentucky Derby postponed until Sept. 5th, the Arkansas Derby will be run on one of the biggest days in sports, the first Saturday in May, and provide the winner with 100 points. The Oaklawn race has in past years been a deciding factor in who gained entry into the Run for the Roses.

All total, 1,428 points are on the line in 11 races between March 21 and April 4 with a total of 170 awarded and 408 left and 850 up in the air. Churchill also announced it may create additional prep races offering points. So some races will be rescheduled and we may see new races in the mix. It will certainly make things interesting and boy, could we use it!

What it is.

Leaderboard as of 3/22/2020

Rank. Horse/points 

1. Wells Bayou/104

2. Modernist/70

3. Authentic/60

4. Ete Indien/54*

5. Nadal/50

6. Mischevious Alex/50

7. Ny Traffic/50

8. King Guillermo/50

9. Enforceable/33

10. Storm the Court/32

11. Sole Volante/30

12. Major Fed/30

13. Thousand Words/25

14. Tiz the Law/22*

15. Silver Prospector/21

16. Excession/20

17. Honor A. P./20

18. Candy Tycoon/20*

19. Untitled/20

20. Shotski/19

*Starting in Florida Derby 

Contributing Authors

MB Kalinich

Maribeth Kalinich is a racing enthusiast and historian who writes about current racing events, Thoroughbred history and preservation of historic racing sites. Growing up in...

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@PastTheWire Great race for the spot play!!! #membersmakemoney

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