News and STORIES

Horses Qualified for the Derby and Where They Will Race Next

Author: Ryan Knuppel
Published: Saturday March 27, 2021
In the past five years, the average number of Road to the Kentucky qualifying points needed to earn an invitation to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May is about 33. With seven 100-40-20-10 points races left on the schedule, ten horses have already exceeded that total and are likely to be in the Kentucky Derby field.
Life Is Good was a lock after winning the 50-20-10-5 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park on March 6th, but suffered an injury and will not be running for the foreseeable future. What that ultimately does to the points needed to qualify remains to be seen, but it will probably lower the threshold somewhat.
Hot Rod Charlie’s win in the 100-40-20-10 Louisiana Derby at The Fair Grounds on March 20th vaulted him into the points lead with 110. He also finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and third in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes. His prep season is over, and he will head directly to the Kentucky Derby.
The second-place finisher behind Hot Rod Charlie at the Louisiana Derby, Midnight Bourbon, will also race next at Churchill Downs, qualifying with 66 points. In the three prep races at The Fair Grounds, Midnight Bourbon recorded a first, a second, and a third-place finish.
Greatest Honour can clinch the top spot in the standings with a win in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream. The winner of the Fountain of Youth at the same track has 60 points, and his performance in his final prep start will determine how far up the favorites’ list he will end up.
The winner of the 50-20-10-5 Risen Star Stakes at The Fair Grounds, Mandaloun, never contended and finished a distant sixth in the Louisiana Derby. He’ll try to regroup by running in the 20-8-4-2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 10th.
Concert Tour, trained by the legendary Bob Baffert, pulled an upset in the 50-20-10-5 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 13th in his stakes debut and only his third career start. He’ll be back at Oaklawn on April 10th in the $1 million 100-40-20-10 Arkansas Derby.

Surprise Entries

On March 6th, two 50-20-10-5 races produced stunning upsets by two horses that had not yet been nominated for the Kentucky Derby. The first was in the Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct Park, where 76/1 longshot Weyburn shocked the field to pull off the win. A little bit later, 15/1 Helium did the same thing at the Tampa Bay Derby.
Both owners subsequently ponied up the $6,000 in late fees to nominate their horses. Weyburn will next run in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 3rd in a Kentucky Derby tune-up, while Helium will skip the rest of the prep season and next race at the Kentucky Derby.

The Kentucky Derby Favorite

Undefeated Essential Quality, while not near the top of the standings, is the clear Triple Crown favorite with the withdrawal of Life Is Good. Trainer Brad Cox has chosen to enter the speedy colt in just one race in 2021, a win in the postponed 10-4-2-1 Southwest Stakes on February 27th at Oaklawn Park.
It was his first start since a victory back on November 6th at the 20-8-4-2 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland after winning the Breeders’ Futurity at the same track on October 3rd. Essential Quality will be looking to add to his 40 point total and solidify his frontrunner status at the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 3rd.
There are two horses with 34 points and should safely be in the Kentucky Derby. Proxy ran all three prep races at The Fair Grounds, with a pair of second-place finishes followed by a fourth place in the Louisiana Derby. He’s completed his prep schedule and will next race in the first jewel of the Triple Crown. Medina Spirit will be looking to bolster his position in the standings in the 100-40-20-10 Santa Anita Derby on April 3rd.

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