2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: ENCINO

The 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) is Saturday, May 4, at Churchill Downs, offering a record $5 million purse. The field is limited to 20 starters based on Kentucky Derby qualifying points from dozens of prep races.



With three weeks remaining until the Kentucky Derby, this Godolphin homebred was even outside the Kentucky Derby bubble despite winning the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park in early March and earning 20 points. After the Blue Grass Stakes (G2), which he sat out while stablemate Just a Touch ran (and finished second) the last option to earn enough points to make the Derby gate was to win in the Lexington Stakes (G2) at Keeneland to earn 20 more points.

And win he did, leading every step to post a game-half-length victory and pick up his ticket to Louisville.

He has the credentials to win a big race, but it’s hard to tell where he fits with the top runners here. And though his 108 monster Equibase speed figure suggests so, it was so much higher than any of his three previous efforts one has to wonder about a bounce. He will have a lone workout before next Saturday where everyone will get a chance to see how much his last may have either taken away from him or given back to him.

2024 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Encino

Betting advice:  He is a confirmed frontrunner who will have company. Early types tend to do well in the Kentucky Derby so if he doesn’t get too much pressure, his recent races suggest he’s fit and he is certainly bred to go this distance.

Post Position: SCRATCHED

Odds: 20/1

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Trainer: Brad Cox

Owners: Godolphin LLC

Career record: 4-3-1-0

Career earnings: $378,315

Most recent race: Stonstreet Lexington Stakes, April 13 (1st)

Top Equibase speed figure: 108

Pedigree: Nyquist—Glittering Jewel, by Bernardini

Color: Bay

Running Style: closer

Notes: Geroux and Cox teamed up with eventual Derby winner Mandaloun in 2021… Godolphin has had ten previous Kentucky Derby starters, the best finish was a third by champion Essential Quality, ironically, behind Mandaloun… While to many, Encino is an area in Southern California located in the San Fernando Valley, it is also the Spanish word for oak, which is more likely considering who owns the colt…

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