The New York-bred Kentucky Derby favorite, Tiz the Law, owned by Sackatoga Stable and trained by Barclay Tagg would be the prohibitive favorite Derby no matter who shows up in Louisville. After this, a trio of California-based colts — five-time Derby winner Bob Baffert’s Authentic (Haskell winner) and Thousand Words (Shared Belief winner), and the John Shirreffs-trained Honor A.P. (Santa Anita Derby winner), should be after as soon as the morning is announced during Derby week.
The Derby points standings were completed on Saturday, when preferred Pneumatic won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Pegasus was one of over a half-dozen races Churchill Downs added to the list of qualifiers because the reshuffling of events due to COVID-19 postponed the Derby four months.
A formidable record, with overpowering victories in his hottest races, has him at the head of the class.
Art Collector, handled by little-known-outside-the-Midwest trainer Tommy Drury, could be the surprise celebrity: Like Tiz the Law, this colt is 4-0 in 2020; with a set of allowance-optional promising wins, a victory from the Blue Grass (G2) followed with a win in the Ellis Park Derby.
In question is whether the 1 1/4-mile Derby distance is too far for Authentic — he barely hung on to win the 1 1/8-mile Haskell using a nose over Ny Traffic; and was adjacent to Honor A.P. in the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, defeated 2 3/4 lengths.
Thousand Words stepped up by beating Honor A.P. in the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief, but includes a shaky resume that includes three wins to begin his career (Los Alamitos Futurity, Robert B. Lewis among them), but followed with a fourth in the San Felipe (G2), 11th in the Oaklawn Stakes, and second in the Los Alamitos Derby (G3).
Only a few months ago, Baffert was loaded for the Derby. His Arkansas Derby division winners, unbeatens Charlatan and Nadal, are both sidelined with ailments. (Charlatan was disqualified from his victory in the Arkansas Derby to receive a positive of an overage of the drug lidocaine.)
However, Baffert also has among the best fillies for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) in Gamine, that will take on Alabama (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver in what could be the start of a gorgeous competition.
Due to health and safety concerns, attendance will be less than 23,000, according to Churchill Downs (less than 14 percent of this record crowd of 170,513 in 2015). Strict protocols will be followed by viewers along with participants — coaches, owners, jockeys, grooms, and backstretch workers.
With recent rules set by Churchill Downs for jockeys to participate, several leading riders chosen in the Derby. Among those who won’t be in the Derby are top riders Irad Ortiz, Jr., brother Jose Ortiz, Joel Rosario and Luis Saez, who finished first in the 2019 Derby aboard Maximum Security (the horse was DQ’d to 17th for interference).
With that, here is the rest of the Derby horses which got enough points to run — if they do or not will be known over the next few weeks:
Regardless of his runner-up finish from the Shared Belief, this colt is going to be among the gaming favorites off his pedigree and a record of 2 wins and three seconds in five career races.
King Guillermo, last seen running alongside Nadal in a branch of the Arkansas Derby on May 2, revealed he’s in great shape with a 5-furlong job in 59.40 minutes at Churchill on Saturday. He’ll be ridden by Samy Camacho.
“He enjoys it in Kentucky,” King Guillermo’s exercise rider Edgar Medina said after the job.
Dr Post, trained by two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher, made his Derby trip with a runner-up effort in the Belmont and a third in the Haskell.
“We’ll check in with the owners and think of a game plan,” Pletcher said. “The Derby is in play for sure. We’re satisfied with the way he’s going, so we’ll see how the next few weeks go.”
Max Player, third at the Travers, will be saddled by Steve Asmussen as regular trainer Linda Rice will remain in New York (Saratoga); Caracaro, next from the Travers, is Derby bound and Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is expected to be aboard.
Miriam Lee has always been a horse racing fan thanks to trips to the tracks in her home state of Maryland with her father as kid. She owns an OTTB and is an advocate for promoting the sport among her peers. Miriam studies communication arts at Hood College and will receive her master’s degree in 2021, which she plans to use for a career in screenwriting. Her all-time favorite racehorse is Man O War.