Now that the dust has settled from last weekend's Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby, and we have only the Lexington Stakes remaining, the Kentucky Derby picture is nearly complete.
Below are the latest graded earnings, as of today. From what I can tell, barring injury, the top 15 are being pointed to the Derby, although Terrain and Win Willy are tenuous. After that, things get a little tricky.
In trying to determine who the 20 starters will be, we first must deal with the Mafaaz situation. With an automatic berth into the Dance if they want it, Mafaaz's connections have said they will take a few more days to decide their plan.
For the sake of argument, let's assume Mafaaz will not go, because from what I heard from sources today, that is the way John Gosden is leaning. If that's the case, there are still five spots remaining. Who does that leave us with? Well, at No. 16 is Bittel Road. His poor tenth-place finish in the Lane's End, coupled with the fact that he has never won a surface other than turf has prompted Todd Pletcher to keep him off the trail. He will instead go to the American Turf at Churchill.
At last report, it seems that trainer Chris Block is leaning towards sending No. 17 Giant Oak to the Derby, even though he has only a maiden and optional claiming win on his resume from seven starts.
A couple weeks ago it looked as though Dunkirk would be on the outside looking in, but now, at No. 18, he is in. Obviously, he will be going.
At No. 19 is Birdstone gelding Mine That Bird, who earned $150,000 of graded earnings by winning the Grey Stakes (Can-III) last October at Woodbine. He hasn't won since and last out ran fourth in the Sunland Derby for trainer Bennie Woolley Jr. I don't think he'll be going.
At No. 20 is Theregoesjojo, who disappointed in the Blue Grass. In talking with Ken McPeek, Theregoesjojo is no longer on the Derby trail. His stifle locked up twice in the Blue Grass (which is similar to a hip joint locking up in us) and they are likely going to give him some time off. McPeek said Theregoesjojo seemed to come out of the race fine, but they will remain conservative with the colt. He is now being pointed to the turf.
At No. 21 is Flying Private. In talking with Wayne Lukas, the colt displaced a soft palate in his fifth-place Arkansas Derby finish. The problem is correctable and Lukas has every intention of sending the colt to the Derby. "He's by a Derby winner (Fusaichi Pegasus) and out of a Derby winning mare (Unbridled). So his pedigree screams a mile and a quarter. We're excited about going."
At No. 23 is Massone, who finished third in the Blue Grass. Not Triple Crown nominated.
At No. 23 is Mr. Hot Stuff. The third place finisher in the Santa Anita Derby looks like he is going, if he gets in, according to trainer Eoin Harty. Harty said the Tiznow colt worked four furlongs in :48-flat on April 14 at Santa Anita. "He looks like he'll do his best running at a mile and quarter. He's done his best running late in races. He's got some catching up to do but he's improving at the right time."
At No. 24 is Summer Bird, who ran a very good race to get third in the Arkansas Derby. The word is that he will point for the Lone Star Derby.
Finally, at No. 25 is Take the Points, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby. It looks like the Pletcher trainee would go, if he gets in.
Assuming Square Eddie wins the Lexington and gets the first-place money, these could be your 20 Derby starters (if 20 go this year). If he doesn't and another winner comes out of the Lexington, it would mean Take the Points would be the first horse dropped. Again, this is assuming that Mafaaz does not go and all of the above stays the same (which we know won't happen).
Also, Charitable Man, seventh in the Blue Grass while making his first start of the year, will now be pointed to the Travers and not the Derby, according to DRF.
Stay tuned. As always, there will be lots of changes.
1. Regal Ransom: $1,250,000
2. Pioneerof the Nile: $1,193,250
3. Square Eddie: $774,981
4. I Want Revenge: $774,000
5. Papa Clem: $760,000
6. Desert Party: $641,667
7. Quality Road: $600,000
8. General Quarters: $595,645
9. Friesan Fire: $570,465
10. Musket Man: $485,000
11. Terrain (g): $448,330
12. Hold Me Back: $438,000
13. West Side Bernie: $385,160
14. Chocolate Candy: $370,000
15. Win Willy: $230,000
16. Bittel Road: $211,000
17. Giant Oak: $169,256
18. Dunkirk: $150,000
19. Mine That Bird (g): $138,705
20. Theregoesjojo: $133,063
21. Flying Private $124,000
22. Massone: $115,000
23. Mr. Hot Stuff $114,000
24. Summer Bird $100,000
25. Take the Points $85,000