After a drama filled weekend, the Kentucky Derby picture is now flipped upside down. Heavy favorites in both the Florida Derby and Louisiana Derby were beaten, making our job very challenging in ranking these three-year olds. Also, since grading earnings are what get you into the field, we’ve added each horses graded earnings beside their name. We’ll focus on those earnings from here on out, and let you know what each horse has to do to make the Kentucky Derby field.
1. Creative Cause ($686,000) – The new number one is now Creative Cause, and he can almost lock himself in as the Kentucky Derby favorite if he wins the Santa Anita Derby this Saturday. He’s been the most impressive visually, and has run faster than anyone so far. I’m expecting a huge performance from him this Saturday.
2. Daddy Nose Best ($545,558) – Call me crazy, but after the recent disappointments from others, Daddy Nose Best is looking better and better. His win at Sunland was impressive, and he looked to be doing his best running late in that race, suggesting he’s going to get better with distance. He also has enough graded earings to be a lock for the Derby.
3. Bodemeister ($60,000) – His recent works have me DYING to see his next start. This horse almost beat our number one ranked horse in just his third start, and looks to be getting better. The pressure is on Bodemesiter however. With just $60,000 in graded earings, he must finish first or second in his next race to qualify.
4. Union Rags ($1,170,000) – Saturday’s Florida Derby confirmed what I had thought about Union Rags from the start: Good horse, but not a freak. He has a legit excuse for losing, but a truly great horse would have over came that and won. He still remains high on my list, but consider this….he’s had two tough trips in his career and lost BOTH of them. One would have to think his trip in the Kentucky Derby will likely be his worst yet considering the field size.
5. Hansen ($1,400,000) – Hansen continues to train well in Kentucky and is being pointed towards the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14th. This is a very talented horse, but the distance is still a big question mark for me.
6. Secret Circle ($470,000) – Much like Hansen, the distance is my only concern with Secret Circle. There is no doubting this horses talent, but how far can he go? We’ll find out in the Arkansas Derby.
7. Take Charge Indy ($698,400) – His win in the Florida Derby this weekend punched his ticket to Churchill Downs. After scratching from the Tampa Bay Derby, Take Charge Indy pulled the upset at Gulfstream. His jockey, Calvin Borel, knows a thing or two about winning at Chruchill so you better keep a close eye on this one.
8. On Fire Baby ($286,729) – The big grey filly continues to trainer beautifully at Oaklawn Park, and is still deciding between the Fantasy or Arkansas Derby for her next start. She should have enough graded earnings to qualify for the derby no matter where she runes next.
9. Gemologist ($103,855) – This undefeated colt will be running in the Wood Memorial this Saturday at Aqueduct. The race is huge for him considering he’ll need to finish in the top two to lock himself into the Kentucky Derby. If he was to finish third he would definitely be on the bubble as far as graded earnings go.
10. Alpha ($180,000) – Alpha also will be running in the Wood Memorial. He’ll need to finish in the top three to advance on to Churchill Downs, which is something he should be able to do.
11. El Padrino ($250,000) – El Padrino is our biggest dropper of the week after a flat performance in the Florida Derby. El Padrino was in the clear the entire race but failed to make up much ground on the top three. Graded earnings wise he is now on the bubble.
12. Daddy Long Legs ($1,294,000) – He was an impressive winner of the UAE Derby in Dubai last weekend, but that race has not produced runners that have had success in the Kentucky Derby. I think he is more of a turf or synthetic horse, but you must respect his talents.
13. I’ll Have Another ($151,000) – He’ll be running in the Santa Anita Derby this Saturday. We’ve been waiting for him to run for a while now, and to be honest I’m not sure what to expect. He’ll need to be first or second to lock himself into the Derby, third will put him on the bubble.
14. Optimizer ($181,375) – Optimizer continues to train great for D Wayne Lukas as he awaits the Arkansas Derby. He’ll need a top three finish in that race to qualify for the derby. A fourth place finish would put him on the bubble.
15. Went the Day Well ($282,000) – His win at Turfway was solid, but he still has plenty of question marks surrounding him. His connections have said he might have one more prep race so we will be able to analyze him one more time in the next couple of weeks. He should have enough earnings to qualify for the Derby.
16. Howe Great ($90,000) – His winning streak is impressive, but can he run on dirt? It won’t matter in his next start, as he will be running in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland on April 14th. He’ll need a top two finish to qualify for the Derby.
17. Dullahan ($405,000) – His next start will also be in the Bluegrass Stakes at Keeneland, but he has plenty of graded earnings so he doesn’t have to worry about winning it. Dullahan is much like Howe Great…can he run on the dirt?
18. Mark Valeski ($260,000) – He’s now ran two decent seconds at the Fair Grounds, but couldn’t quite catch the winner in either race. It’s been said that he lost a shoe in the Louisiana Derby, so that could be a legit excuse. He’s on the bubble graded earnings wise, so we’ll have to keep an eye on that situation.
19. Reveron ($220,000) – You have to be impressed with his race in the Florida Derby, as he was a close second to Take Charge Indy. I still think he’s better on turf, but I don’t think you can leave him off your Derby list at this point. He’s on the bubble graded earnings wise.
20. Sabercat ($601,429) – I think he’s way better than what he ran in the Rebel Stakes so look for an improved effort in the Arkansas Derby. One great advantage he has over several others: No matter what he does in the Arkansas Derby, he has plenty of graded earnings to qualify for the Kentucky Derby.