Kentucky Derby 2020 Report (6-5-20)

The Santa Anita Derby (G1) is the next Kentucky Derby 2020 points race, and it looks like a match race between San Felipe (G2) 1-2 finishers Authentic and Honor A. P.

Authentic is the SA Derby target, and he is going to be tough to catch if they let him dictate terms again. Rushie and Shooters Shoot drew inner posts and might try to go after the aforementioned favorite early, and if that happens, Honor A. P. might be the major beneficiary. He could easily turn the tables on Authentic if the pace is contested at a mile and an eighth. Friar’s Road, Anneau d’Or, and Azul Coast round out the field. Check out my SA Derby video at the bottom of this post. 

In other Triple Crown news, the top portion of my Derby list gets a bit of a shakeup following Nadal’s recent injury and retirement.

Kentucky Derby Points Race Recaps

Matt Winn Stakes (G3) Recap (5-23-20) – Winner: Maxfield ($4.60)

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Celtic Striker was 168-1, and he showed the way early. The pace was not fast, and Pneumatic and Ny Traffic were also close-up from the outset. Celtic Striker was the first to fold, and Pneumatic and Ny Traffic took up the running. Those two continued to match strides turning for home, and Maxfield was beginning to make some noise from midpack. The latter rallied from 8th but was never too far back, and he seemed to be getting stronger in the late stages. He edged clear to win by a length, and this was pretty easy considering it was his first start back from ankle surgery, and first outing since October 2019. Ny Traffic was a bit better than Pneumatic for the runner-up spot, and the top three were clear of the rest. Attachment Rate was an even 4th, and he was followed by Necker Island, Celtic Striker, Shake Some Action, Informative, Flap Jack, and Major Fed (wide throughout from outside post). Maxfield definitely looked like a solid Derby hopeful coming out of this race.  

Hot Prospects: Tap It to Win (Tapit – Onepointhreekarats, by Medaglia d’Oro)

Mark Casse’s colt is starting to put it all together. He showed promise in his first two starts last year before back-to-back poor stakes efforts in the Breeders’ Futurity and Street Sense. He returned with an optional claiming win at Gulfstream May 9, and cruised in an allowance affair at Belmont Park June 4. He was one of my original “exceptional 11” members last September, and he might be back on my list in short order, especially if he shows up in the Belmont Stakes and runs well in that event.

Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2020 Contenders (6-5-20)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.20 (5/48) at Santa Anita Park May 30. 

Comments: It is time to see if his number one ranking is warranted. 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 helps him. I like his running style versatility and there is plenty of upside here. He is entered in the June 6 Santa Anita Derby, and he will try to turn the tables on Authentic in that event.      

Derby Points (20)

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(2) MAXFIELD (Street Sense – Velvety, by Bernardini) –  Previous Ranking (#4)

Trainer (Brendan P. Walsh) – Owner (Godolphin, LLC)

Comments: It was great to see this guy back in action at Churchill on May 23. He looked good capturing the Matt Winn Stakes from off the pace that day, and it sure looks like he is going in the right direction. The Belmont Stakes is an option, and they will decide if that race is his next target in the coming days. He packs a nice late kick and seems to possess plenty of stamina. He is now 3-for-3 and you have to love the pedigree as well.   

Derby Points (60)

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(3) CHARLATAN (Speightstown, by Authenticity, by Quiet American) – Previous Ranking (#3)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (SF Racing, Starlight, Madaket, Stonestreet, Golcanda Stables)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.80 (1/2) at Santa Anita Park June 1. 

Comments: He easily won all three starts this year including the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1). He has never been challenged at any point in any of his races, so we still don’t know his true ability. The Belmont Stakes is an option, but there is some controversy surrounding this one. He tested positive for an overage of the pain reliever Lidocaine in his initial post-race test in Arkansas. A second test has been ordered, and he could get disqualified and lose his Derby points if that test comes back positive. Lidocaine is not a performance enhancing drug. It is legal to use but most not show up in excessive amounts in post-race tests.

Derby Points (100)

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(4) AUTHENTIC (Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley) – Previous Ranking (#5)

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

Latest Workout: 6f in 1:12.40 (1/2) at Santa Anita Park May 31. 

Comments: He was up on the pace and cruised in all three of his starts as the favorite. He easily beat subsequent El Camino Real Derby hero Azul Coast in the Sham Stakes (G3) Jan. 4, but was all over the place in the stretch. After that erratic run second time, ear plugs were added and he was much more professional in the San Felipe (G2). The $350k purchase loves to get into the race early, and he crushed his foes with his cruising speed in his first three starts. They backed off after the April 6 SA Derby was postponed. After four weeks of no published works, he returned to the worktab April 27, and the rescheduled SA Derby (June 6) is his next race.
  
Derby Points (60)

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(5) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow) – Previous Ranking (#6)

Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)

Latest  Workout: 4f in 48.20 (5/40) at Palm Meadows Training Center May 31. 

Comments: He was one of the top horses if not the best sophomore in the land over the winter at Gulfstream Park in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby. He stalked the pace and took over in the stretch in both of those races, and they gave him a break after the Florida Derby. He got back on the worktab April 11, and the Belmont Stakes will be his next start. He could end up being the favorite in that race.          

Derby Points (122)

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(6) MAX PLAYER (Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love)  Previous Ranking (#7)

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.

Derby Points (10)

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(7) KING GUILLERMO (Uncle Mo – Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band) – – Previous Ranking (#8)

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 in undecided. They have been patient with him this year, and his connections are in no hurry to run him again. They may or may not train him up to the Kentucky Derby.   

Derby Points (90)   

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(8) GOUVERNEUR MORRIS (Constitution – Addison Run, by Unbridled’s Song) –  Previous Ranking (#9)

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 is back in Florida and is gearing up for the Belmont Stakes.   

Derby Points (34)

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(9) FARMINGTON ROAD (Quality Road – Silver La Belle, by Langfuhr) – Previous Ranking (#10)

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.    

Derby Points (15)

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(10) MODERNIST (Uncle Mo – Symbolic Gesture, Bernardini) – Previous Ranking (#11)

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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.   

Derby Points (70)

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(11) DR POST (Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy) – Previous Ranking (#16)

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

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

Comments: My one-time hot prospect is moving in the right direction. He captured both starts at Gulfstream Park this year including the Unbridled Stakes April 25. His stock is on the rise 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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THE NEXT NINE: (12) Ete Indien, (13) Sole Volante, (14) Basin, (15) Tap It to Win, (16) Pneumatic, (17) Ny Traffic, (18) Casino Grande, (19) Wells Bayou, (20) Anneau d’Or