The first 100-point race of the Kentucky Derby prep season takes place this Saturday at the Louisiana Fair Grounds. The Sunland Derby in New Mexico will go on Sunday, but the point value to that winner is just 50, with 20, 10 and five filling out the dole. A second-place finish at Louisiana is worth 40 points, but who cares? It only takes roughly 30 points to get a spot in the Kentucky Derby field. Nothing like excess in horse racing.
The headliners for the Louisiana Derby will be Bravazo, winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds in his last outing, and My Boy Jack, victor in the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes in Arkansas. The home field advantage goes to Bravazo, but both colts earned 98 speed figures and My Boy Jack finished much stronger than did Bravazo in their most recent efforts. I really like Noble Indy, who has run three times and received a speed figure of 95 or better each time with two wins and a third. He was behind Bravazo and Snapper Sinclair in the Risen Star, but he was bumped fairly hard without losing much at the wire. Those four horses would make a reasonable Superfecta this Saturday. If you want a fifth runner to give yourself half of the 10-horse field, take a shot with Dark Temlar. He's run four times with two wins, a second and a third. Each speed figure since his maiden voyage has been an improvement, and he cost $475,000 at auction. Somebody likes him. Hyndford has run three times with a win, second and fourth. He definitely could be a factor in the race and a top five finish is realistic.
The $800K Sunland Derby isn't very likely to provide a horse for Kentucky, but it does produce surprises, including an occasional Kentucky Derby winner. I kind of like an 8-1 shot named Runaway Ghost. He's run six times with three wins, two seconds and a fifth. He also has the highest speed figure in the race with a 100, coming off a 90 while winning his previous race. I can't understand why he's 8-1, but there's no way he stays that low.
Seven Trumpets has hit a 90+ Brisnet number three times in his five outings and has two wins and a second to show for it. Watch him. Peace hasn't really uncorked like I expected, but ran fourth to McKinzie and Bolt d'Oro last time he ran. New York Central has two wins and two 90+ speed ratings, so he fits here nicely. He's never failed to hit the board in four life-time races. Prince Lucky has three wins in five attempts and just throw out his last.
Last week, Magnum Moon was a convincing winner of the Rebel Stakes, remaining undefeated in his three-race career. Solomini placed second and Combatant third. All are legit contenders for the Arkansas Derby in mid-April, with a good shot at Kentucky.
The Jeff Ruby was won by Blended Citizen, a horse not nominated for the Triple Crown Series. He's nominated now, though. Pony Up put on a huge late drive to get second and he may have more to give as the distances grow.
Top 26 prospects to date with points earned toward Derby entrance in parenthesis.
1. McKinzie (40) - won Sham with 98 Beyer, second in San Felipe
2. Bolt d'Oro (64) - third BC Juvenile, won Front Runner with 103 Beyer
3. Justify (0) - won first two outings easily
4. Audible (10) - won Holy Bull with 99 speed figure
5. Magnum Moon (50) - won Rebel Stakes easily
6. Solomini (34) - second in Rebel was not that great
7. Promise Fulfilled (52) won Fountain of Youth on front end
8. Flameaway (30) - won Sam Davis, second Tampa Bay Derby
9. Enticed (63) - won Grade 2 Jockey Club, won Gotham Stakes
10. Good Magic (34) - ran evenly in Fountain of Youth, 2 yr. old champ
11. Quip (50) - won Tampa Bay Derby
12. Catholic Boy (14) - probably won't run again until Florida Derby
13. Strike Power (20) - second in Fountain of Youth
14. Bravazo (54) - won grade 2 Risen Star
15. My Boy Jack (12) - third in Sham, won Southwest Stakes
16. Snapper Sinclair (22) - third Lecomte, second by nose in Risen Star
17. Blended Citizen (20) - won Jeff Ruby on artificial surface
18. Title Ready (5) - fourth in Rebel
19. Kanthaka (10) - won San Vincente, ran third at SanFelipe
20. Instilled Regard (19) - fourth Risen Star, still can do better
21. Mendelssohn (20) - going to have to do well in UAE Derby to make it
22. Combatant (22) - second Southwest, third in Rebel
23. Greyvitos (10) - won $400K Springboard over Combatant
24. Noble Indy (10) - third Risen Star, won both other starts.
25. Pony Up (8) - second in Jeff Ruby on synthetic
26. Old Time Revival (20) - second at Gotham Stakes