Kentucky Derby 2020 Report (6-11-20)

My longtime top ranked Kentucky Derby 2020 contender Honor A. P. solidified his status as a high quality sophomore with a strong off the pace victory over Authentic in the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, June 6.    

Kentucky Derby Points Race Recaps

Santa Anita Derby (G1) Recap (6-6-20) – Winner: Honor A. P. ($6.40)

honor a. p. kentucky derby prep race past performance


There is a good chance that we saw the Kentucky Derby winner in this race. Honor A. P. has been my top ranked Derby contender for quite some time, and he put it all together in this race. Shooters Shoot got a slim early lead after post time favorite Authentic broke outward from the outside post. The latter recovered and chased outside, and Anneau d’Or chased in between rivals. The pace was solid and Honor A. P. was in midpack and outside under Mike Smith. He made a nice wide move and had all the momentum in the stretch. Authentic tried to go with the winner in the lane but could not match strides with the one late. The winning margin was 2-3/4 lengths, and Honor A. P. was getting stronger in the late stages, and he galloped out well. Authentic held 2nd, and I get the feeling that he does not want to go a mile and a quarter. The same cannot be said of Honor A. P. He can run all day. Rushie was best of the rest in 3rd, and Anneau d’Or weakened to 4th. Shooters Shoot was next, followed by Friar’s Road and Azul Coast. 

Hot Prospects: Cezanne (Curlin – Achieving, by Bernardini)

cezanne kentucky derby prep race past performance


Bob Baffert is suddenly reeling on the road to the Derby. He recently lost two of his top prospects to injury (Nadal, Charlatan), and Authentic was defeated as the heavy favorite in the SA Derby on June 6. Earlier that day, Baffert unveiled $3.65 million purchase Cezanne in a special weight dirt sprint, and he looked good winning at a distance most likely shorter than his best. He attended the pace under Flavien Prat and kicked clear to win by a bit more than two lengths. He is bred to route and is probably going to show up in a Derby points race in the near future. 

Kentucky Derby 2020 News

Untimely injuries to highly regarded Derby contenders have been in the news too many times recently. First, it was Nadal, and Charlatan went to the sidelines shortly after for trainer Bob Baffert. Maxfield was recently hurt in his first work following a sharp return score in the Matt Winn Stakes. Now, we can also add Wells Bayou to the list. He has bone bruising and is out indefinitely. Let’s hope this disturbing trend ends quickly. 

Kentucky Derby Top 25 Points Leaders (thru SA Derby 6-6-20)

122 Points: Tiz the Law

120 Points: Honor A. P.

100 Points: Authentic

90 Points: King Guillermo

74 Points: Ete Indien

70 Points: Modernist, Ny Traffic

50 Points: Basin, Mischevious Alex

40 Points: Shivaree

34 Points: Gouverneur Morris

33 Points: Enforceable

32 Points: Storm the Court

30 Points: Major Fed, Sole Volante

25 Points: Finnick the Fierce, Thousand Words

22 Points: Anneau d’Or

21 Points: Silver Prospector

20 Points: Candy Tycoon, Excession, Untitled

19 Points: Shotski

15 Points: Attachment Rate, Farmington Road

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Updated Kentucky Derby 2020 Points Race Schedule

Belmont Stakes (150-60-30-15) – June 20
Ohio Derby (20-8-4-2) – June 27
Los Alamitos Derby (20-8-4-2) – July 4
Indiana Derby (20-8-4-2) – July 8
Blue Grass Stakes (100-40-20-10) – July 11
Haskell Stakes (50-20-10-5) – July 18
Shared Belief (100-40-20-10) – August 1
Ellis Park Derby (50-20-10-5) – August 9
Pegasus (20-8-4-2) – August 15

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Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2020 Contenders (6-11-20)

(1)  HONOR A. P. (Honor Code – Hollywood Story, by Wild Rush) – Previous Ranking (#1)

Trainer (John Shirreffs) – Owner (C R K Stable LLC) 

Comments: Last time, I said it is time to see if his number one ranking is warranted. After the SA Derby, I can say with the utmost confidence that my top ranked sophomore is only getting better. He was a good 2nd in his first start vs. winners in the San Felipe (G2) March 7. That was his first start in more than four months, and he stalked outside and was clearly second best. The later Kentucky Derby date definitely helped him, and his SA Derby victory was strong. He emphatically turned the tables on Authentic, and it looked like he was just getting warmed up at a mile and an eighth. They have plenty of options to get to the Derby, and I am sure they will sit down and map out a plan in the coming days.      

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(2) AUTHENTIC (Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley) – Previous Ranking (#4) 

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Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stable) 

Comments: He was up on the pace and cruised in his first three starts as the favorite. He defeated Honor A. P. in the San Felipe (G2), but had everything his own way on the front end at 8.5 furlongs that day. Fast forward to the SA Derby, and he broke outward from the outside post, and just did not have as much stamina as Honor A. P., and that is my main concern with this one going forward. If he gets a clear early lead, I think he can win at mile and an eighth, but I am not sure about longer distances.    
  
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(3) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow) – Previous Ranking (#5) 

Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)

Latest  Workout: 5f in 1:00.53 (5/9) at Belmont Park June 8. 

Comments: Is the best wintertime sophomore in the land still the top banana in late spring? Not if the SA Derby was any indication, but I guess we will find out in the Belmont Stakes at a mile and an eighth on June 20. I like his tactical speed, and he won the Champagne (G1) at Belmont as a juvenile. All of the recent Belmont Stakes defections have probably left him as the solid betting choice in that race.           

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(4) MAX PLAYER (Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love)  Previous Ranking (#6)

Trainer (Linda Rice) – Owner (George E. Hall) 

Latest Workout: 5f bullet in 1:00.60 (1/10) at Belmont Park on June 3. 

Comments: He made his stakes debut in the Withers (G3) at a mile and an eighth at the Big A Feb. 1, and he raced wide throughout and came running down the stretch to score by a rather easy 3-1/4 lengths. He had his sights set on the Wood Memorial (G2), but that race was postponed due to the coronavirus pandemic. He is based in New York and is targeting the Belmont Stakes. He definitely picked up the pace in his June 3 move. 

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(5) KING GUILLERMO (Uncle Mo – Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band) – – Previous Ranking (#7)

Trainer (Juan Carlos Avila) – Owner (Victoria’s Ranch)

Comments: Fired in both Derby points races this year. He tracked the pace and edged away in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and stalked and was second to Nadal in the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1). I like his early-pressing speed and he tries hard throughout. His next start is undecided. They have been patient with him all year, and his connections are in no hurry to run him again. They may or may not train him up to the Kentucky Derby.   

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(6) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song) –  Previous Ranking (#8)

gouverneur morris kentucky derby prep race past performance


Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Team Valor International & WinStar Farm LLC) 

Latest Workout: 5f in 59.95 (1/3) at Palm Beach Downs on June 5. 

Comments: He needs to improve a bit in the graded ranks. He was not disgraced in his three grade one outings (Breeders’ Futurity, Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby), and won both of his non-stakes attempts. He never had a chance to catch controlling speed Charlatan in the first division of the Arkansas Derby. He was being considered for the Belmont Stakes, but Pletcher called an audible and will instead shoot for the Blue Grass at Keeneland on July 11.    

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(7) FARMINGTON ROAD (Quality Road – Silver La Belle, by Langfuhr) – Previous Ranking (#9)

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners, Chrysalis Stables, Robert LaPenta)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.27 (2/3) at Palm Beach Downs on June 5. 

Comments: He was a wide 4th from an outer post in the first division of the Risen Star (G2) at nine furlongs on Feb. 15. He stayed on nicely at Fair Grounds in the aforementioned Risen Star, and added blinkers and finished a good 2nd in the Oaklawn Stakes April 11. He was right back at Oaklawn for the second division of the Arkansas Derby, and he made a wide middle move in an okay 4th place finish. The Belmont Stakes is his next target, and he needs pace help in that nine furlong test. I would not be surprised if he rallied for a share at decent odds in the Belmont.     

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(8) MODERNIST (Uncle Mo – Symbolic Gesture, Bernardini) – Previous Ranking (#10)

Trainer (Bill Mott) – Owner (Martin & Pam Wygod) 

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.60 (1/2) at Payson Park on June 2. 

Comments: He broke his maiden in his third start Jan. 25, and jumped up and captured a division of the Risen Star (G2) in his first start vs. winners Feb. 15. He ended up a respectable 3rd in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and the well-bred colt got some time to mature after the Kentucky Derby was pushed back four months. He returned to the worktab May 13 and might end up in the Belmont Stakes if he continues to progress. They are not going to push him to make the Belmont, but that is the target if he is ready.   

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(9) DR POST (Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy) – Previous Ranking (#11) 

Trainer (Todd Pletcher) – Owner (St. Elias Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.27 (2/3) at Palm Beach Downs June 5. 

Comments: My onetime hot prospect is on the right track. He captured both starts at Gulfstream Park this year including the Unbridled Stakes April 25, and there is room to develop. The Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20 will be his longest and toughest career test, and his recent works are encouraging.          

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(10) SOLE VOLANTE (Karakontie – Light Blow, by Kingmambo) –  Previous Ranking (#13)

sole volante kentucky derby prep race past performance


Trainer (Patrick Biancone) – Owner (Reeves Thoroughbred Racing)

Comments: Looked good rallying from off the pace to capture a salty optional claiming flat mile affair at Gulfstream Park on June 10. If he comes out of that race in good order, he might wheel back quickly in the Belmont Stakes. The Sam F. Davis (G3) winner always fires from off the pace.      

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(11) TAP IT TO WIN (Speightstown, by Authenticity, by Quiet American) – Previous Ranking (#15)

Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (Live Oak Plantation) 

Comments: He was part of my original Derby list last September, but I dropped him after poor efforts in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) and Street Sense Stakes. He reappeared with an optional claiming score at Gulfstream May 9, and dusted allowance foes at Belmont Park June 4. I mentioned him as a hot prospect in my last Derby report, and he is back on my list and has his sights set on the Belmont Stakes. He is an intriguing prospect for the Belmont. 

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THE NEXT NINE: (12) Cezanne, (13) Basin, (14) Pneumatic, (15) Ny Traffic, (16) Rushie, (17) Enforceable, (18) Thousand Words, (19) Storm the Court, (20) Mischevious Alex