By Richard Rosenblatt
Some numbers to digest as we get ready for the first of eight Kentucky Derby preps with qualifying points of 100-40-20-10 to the first four finishers of each race …
The winner of each race is guaranteed a spot in what is sure to be a maximum field of 20 3-year-olds who will Run for the Roses on May 1.
Heading into Saturday’s $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2), the opening 100-pointer, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has five of the top 15 points leaders. In this this week’s usracing.com Derby Top 10 rankings, the six-time Derby winner has Life Is Good at No. 2, latest star Concert Tour at No. 3, and Medina Spirit at No. 6. He has two others still in contention – Hozier and Spielberg.
For now, that puts him at five prospects about six weeks out from the 147th Derby. If all five make it, that would give Baffert 25% of the field in his quest for a record seventh Derby victory.
All five are likely to have one more prep race, and with so many points on the line, all five are likely to qualify for the field.
Not to get too far ahead of ourselves – trainer Brad Cox’s unbeaten Essential Quality remains No. 1 this week, and his Mandaloun is No. 5 and the 8-5 favorite in the Louisiana Derby – but here goes:
Only four times has one trainer sent out five horses in a single Kentucky Derby. Only once, though, did one of the five come through — Grindstone edged Cavonnier [trained by Baffert] by a nose in 1996 for Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas in 1996.
Todd Pletcher saddled five in the race twice, in 2013 and 2017. His best finish of the 10 was a third with Revolutionary in 2013.
Hall of Famer Nick Zito sent out five in 2005, including the favorite Bellamy Road, who ran seventh – the best finish of the bunch.
Concert Tour and Proxy are the newest editions to our Derby Top 10, with Caddo Road and Keepmeinmind, fifth and sixth, respectively, in last week’s Rebel (G2) behind Concert Tour, dropping out.
The 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby is the 14th and final race on the Fair Grounds card Saturday, with a post time of 6:44 p.m. EDT.
Listed below, in addition to the Derby Future wager odds from Pool 4 [which closed March 7], are the up-to-date odds from BUSR.com.
Unbeaten colt continues to train forwardly, working 4 furlongs in 48.20 seconds at the Fair Grounds on March 13 … 2-year-old male champion won Southwest by 4 ¼ lengths in 2021 debut … Derby points and ranking: 40 (7th) … Next start: Blue Grass (G2), Keeneland, April 3, or Arkansas Derby (G1), Oaklawn, April 10 … Derby future wager odds: 5-1 … BUSR.com odds: 8-1.
All is good out in California after his eight-length win in the San Felipe … A perfect 3-for-3 with one race to go before heading to Churchill Downs … Derby points and ranking: 60 (2nd) … Next start: Santa Anita Derby (G1), Santa Anita, April 3 … Derby future wager odds: 2-1 … BUSR.com odds: 3-1.
For his next number, Baffert revealed speedster in Concert Tour, 4 ¼ length winner in the Rebel … Also, a perfect 3-for-3 with one race to go before heading to Churchill Downs … Derby points and ranking: 50 (4th) … Derby future wager odds: 17-1 … BUSR.com odds: 5-1.
Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth winner worked 4 furlongs in 50.20 seconds at Payson Park on March 13 – his first work since latest win … “I think he bounced out of the Fountain of Youth good,’’ said McGaughey. … Career record: 6-3-1-2 … Derby points and ranking: 60 (1st) … Next start: Florida Derby (G1), Gulfstream, March 27 … Derby future wager odds (6-1) … BUSR.com odds: 10-1.
Risen Star winner worked March 13 – 5 furlongs in 1:00.60 at the Fair Grounds … Fourth fastest of 44 at the distance … Has won three of four career starts … Derby points and ranking 52 (3rd) … Next start: Louisiana Derby (G2), Fair Grounds, Saturday … Derby future wager odds: 17-1 … BUSR.com odds: 16-1.
Two wins and two seconds stack up well for this colt, considering he was beaten twice by stablemate Life Is Good … Won Robert B. Lewis by a neck … Derby points and ranking: 34 (8th) … Next start: Santa Anita Derby (possible), Santa Anita, April 3 … Derby future wager odds: 39-1 … BUSR.com odds: 20-1.
The $6,000 supplemental fee is in, and we’ll hold our breath waiting for this guy to show up at Churchill … Surprise winner of Tampa Bay Derby on March 6 and decision was made to train up to the Kentucky Derby … A perfect 3-for-3, his first two wins coming on synthetic surface at Woodbine … Derby points and ranking: 50 (5th) … Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 1 … Derby future wager odds: 7-1 (mutuel field) … BUSR.com odds: 16-1.
Big effort needed to keep this colt Derby-bound … Worked 4 furlongs in 49.20 seconds on March 15 at the Fair Grounds, ninth fastest of 24 at the distance … If he can handle 1 3/16 miles in Louisiana, he could be a factor come Derby Day … Won Lecomte (G3), third in Risen Star (G2), and has a record of 6-2-1-3. … Derby points and ranking: 26 (9th) … Next start: Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds, Saturday … Derby future wager odds: 52-1 … BUSR.com odds: 33-1.
Could be the hot horse if he can come through in Louisiana after runner-up finishes in the Lecomte and Risen Star … A son of top sire Tapit, colt has finished in top 2 in all five of his races – two wins, three seconds. Derby points and ranking: 24 (10th) … Next race: Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds, Saturday … Derby future wager odds: 41-1 … BUSR.com odds: 25-1.
Withers (G3) winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:02.10 at Belmont on March 13, fourth of 16 at the distance … has trainer thinking Derby … … Derby points and ranking: 10 (23rd) … Next start: Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, April 3 … Derby future wager odds: 42-1 … BUSR.com odds: 16-1.
Over the years while working at The Associated Press, Rich Rosenblatt became a familiar name to legions of the horse racing fans and industry insiders with his award-winning articles on horse racing and his stories from the backstretch.
In addition to being an astute observer of sports, Rosenblatt is the co-author of The All-American Chili Cookbook. His work has been seen in just about every publication in the world, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and Time Magazine.