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For the first time since 1945, the Kentucky Derby will not be ran in May. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Churchill Downs announced plans to move the race to September 5, 2020.
While this isn’t ideal, nor what anyone hoped for, this does now open the door to a different set of horses making up the field of 20. Current 2020 Kentucky Derby qualifying points will count toward the new date, however, Churchill Downs also announced existing stakes races over the summer for 3-year-olds will be added to the Derby points schedule. Those are to be announced in coming months.
So with that in mind, here’s my TOP 5 horses who will benefit most by the Kentucky Derby being pushed back to September:
Nobody benefits more than Maxfield from the Derby’s move to September. Last October, he gave the best juvenile performance of the season when he won the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland by more than five lengths. An ankle injury forced him to the sidelines since. Last Saturday, he worked a bullet five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.80.
One of the nation’s most highly regarded juveniles after he won last year’s American Pharoah Stakes (G1) by six lengths, then was a major flop in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. At one point he was off the Kentucky Derby trail, then he worked himself back on it but time was running out. Now Baffert has time back on his side. Monday at Santa Anita, he worked an easy five-eighths of a mile in 1:02.80 with the veteran Dr. Dorr.
Chad Brown seemed set to enter the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner in the Fountain of Youth (G2) until an undisclosed minor setback took him off the Kentucky Derby trail last month. He hasn’t worked in over a month, but perhaps with the Kentucky Derby being moved to September, this son of Palace Malice will make some noise in the summer.
Winner of one of the two Risen Star Stakes (G2) divisions, this sibling of champion Monomoy Girl already has the points for the Kentucky Derby (52). However, trainer Brad Cox took him off the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail with a minor ankle injury. Seems like he now may be back in play.
Basin made his first start in six months (and his first around two turns) in last weekend’s Rebel Stakes (G2). But he raced close to Nadal’s rapid pace and was actually within a length of the lead at the top of the stretch. From there he faltered, but still outfinished everybody but the two horses that finished in front of him. He should move forward from that effort. Let’s not forget this guy is a Grade 1 winner in last summer’s Runhappy Hopeful Stakes (G1) at Saratoga.
Honestly, this horse may have the most potential as anyone on this list. Honor A. P. should benefit greatly from the additional time the Derby’s move to September gives him. Take nothing away from his second place effort in the San Felipe (G2), as it was his first start since last Oct. 13, his first race against winners, and his stakes debut. Not to mention the only horse to beat him was this week’s National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) Top 3-Year-Old, Authentic. He worked an easy and restrained half-mile Monday at Santa Anita in 49.40 seconds.
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