Kentucky Derby 2020 Report (7-10-20)

The Kentucky Derby 2020 point race calendar has picked up steam the last couple of weeks. Dean Martini upset the Ohio Derby late last month, and Uncle Chuck had some fire works of his own at Los Alamitos Race Course on the Fourth of July. Shared Sense threw his hat into the ring four days later in the Indiana Derby.

Kentucky Derby Points Race Recaps

Ohio Derby (G3) Recap (6-27-20) – Winner: Dean Martini ($31.20)

This race was a tale of two trips, and Dean Martini enjoyed a dream journey from the inside post. The same cannot be said of my value top choice South Bend. Rowdy Yates, Lebda, and Dean Martini mixed it up early, and the latter backed off a bit from the inside post. Established and Storm the Court were up close as well. Dean Martini came through along the rail to grab the lead at the six furlong mark, and he scraped paint and spurted clear by three lengths in the lane. South Bend was near the back of the pack from post 10, and he rallied wide and came after the early leader. He was gaining late but ran out of ground and fell less than a length short. Dean Martini held on and the inside post and ground saving trip had everything to do with it. South Bend was probably best but had to settle for a clear runner-up finish. Storm the Court was in the hunt throughout and was wide every step of the way from post 12. He was a clear 3rd in a solid enough effort. Rowdy Yates just held 4th over Sprawl, and they were followed by Lebda, Rogue Element, Unrighteous, Informative, Bear Alley, Code Runner, Established, and Dack Janiel’s. I don’t believe that this was a strong Derby prep, but based on trips, I would consider playing South Bend and Storm the Court in upcoming races at or near this level of competition.

Los Alamitos Derby (G3) Recap (7-4-20) – Winner: Uncle Chuck ($2.80)

The pace complexion changed after Anneau d’Or got sick and scratched. Great Power scooted to the front in this 4-horse field, and Cosmo and Uncle Chuck chased. Outside tactical types always seem to do well at Los Al, and Uncle Chuck sat the right trip and had the race flow in his favor. His stablemate Thousand Words was the only one with a chance to beat the strong favorite, and he made a wide move from last turning for home. It looked like the race was on for a brief moment, but Uncle Chuck spurted away and scored by a comfortable four lengths. Thousand Words was clearly second best, and it was nice to see him bounce back with a much better effort after back-to-back flubs. Neil Drysdale’s maiden Cosmo was well behind the top pair in 3rd, and he was four clear of Great Power. We will learn more about the winner of this race when he faces a deeper cast next time.

Indiana Derby (G3) Recap (7-8-20) – Winner: Shared Sense ($7.60)

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Taishan set the pace, but the wet track specialist is clearly not as good on fast dirt, and he weakened as expected. Earner chased but flattened out in the lane, and so did Extraordinary. Patient runners Shared Sense and Major Fed dominated this race. The former saved ground, tipped out, got the jump, and pulled clear by three lengths. Major Fed rallied from last and caught Necker Island for the runner-up spot. It was nice to see Major Fed rebound with a better effort, and Necker Island ran well after stumbling at the start and racing wide. Earner was 4th and Extraordinary was 5th, and Taishan weakened to finish 6th. Winning Impression was next, followed by Background and No Getting Over Me (eased to the wire).   

Hot Prospects: Money Moves (Candy Ride – Citizen Advocate, by Proud Citizen)

Todd Pletcher’s promising colt followed up his winning 6f bow at GP on Feb. 15 with another tally in a flat mile affair at that same venue March 27. He has been in steady training at Saratoga since the middle of June and is being considered for the Peter Pan at the Spa on July 16.

Kentucky Derby Top 20 Points Leaders (thru Indiana Derby 7-8-20)

272 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

60 Points: Dr Post

50 Points: Basin, Mischevious Alex

40 Points: Max Player, Shivaree

38 Points: Major Fed

36 Points: Storm the Court

33 Points: Enforceable, Thousand Words

30 Points: Sole Volante

25 Points: Finnick the Fierce, Pneumatic

22 Points: Anneau d’Or


Updated Kentucky Derby 2020 Points Race Schedule

Blue Grass Stakes (100-40-20-10) – July 11
Peter Pan (50-20-10-5) – July 16
Haskell Stakes (50-20-10-5) – July 18
Shared Belief (100-40-20-10) – August 1
Travers (100-40-20-10) – August 8
Ellis Park Derby (50-20-10-5) – August 9
Pegasus (20-8-4-2) – August 15


Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2020 Contenders (7-10-20)

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

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

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:02.00 (20/35) at Del Mar on July 4.

Comments: Came out of his impressive SA Derby victory in fine order, and I really like that bullet move on June 24. He is getting stronger as the year progresses, and it looks like his next start will come in the Shared Belief Stakes at 8.5f at Del Mar on Aug. 1. He is the fastest sophomore male at this stage, and more improvement is expected. It sure looks like a mile and a quarter is right up his alley.


(2) TIZ THE LAW (Constitution – Tizfiz, by Tiznow) – Previous Ranking (#2)

Trainer (Barclay Tagg) – Owner (Sackatoga Stable)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:01.10 (2/8) at Belmont Park on July 8.

Comments: In a depleted Belmont Stakes, he did what he always does from a running style standpoint, and his tactical speed frequently puts him in the winning spot. Despite multiple perfect trips and pace in front of him, he has yet to break through with a new top speed rating. His June 20 Belmont number was basically the same as his Feb. 1 Holy Bull rating. The Travers at Saratoga on Aug. 8 is his next assignment.


(3) AUTHENTIC (Into Mischief – Flawless, by Mr. Greeley) – Previous Ranking (#3)

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

Latest Workout: 8f in 1:39.00 (1/1) at Santa Anita Park July 4.

Comments: His cruising speed in his main asset, and he did not have the best start when losing for the first time in the SA Derby. The main concern is stamina. I don’t think he can beat Honor A. P. at a mile and an eighth or longer. The Haskell at Monmouth is probably his next start, and Baffert owns that race. His speed should play well in New Jersey.


(4) DR POST (Quality Road – Mary Delaney, by Hennessy) – Previous Ranking (#4)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.00 (26/102) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on July 5.

Comments: He is definitely on the right path. He captured a pair of starts at Gulfstream Park this year including the Unbridled Stakes April 25, and came back and finished a fine 2nd in the Belmont Stakes. There is room to develop, and it looks like the Haskell might be next.


(5) MAX PLAYER (Honor Code – Fools in Love, by Not for Love)  Previous Ranking (#5)

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

Latest Workout: 4f in 49.00 (26/102) at Belmont Park (dirt training) on July 5.

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 rallied down the middle to garner the show in the Belmont Stakes, and he is lightly raced and on the improve. He seems to have plenty of stamina, and a race like the Travers makes sense.


(6) KING GUILLERMO (Uncle Mo – Slow Sand, by Dixieland Band) – – Previous Ranking (#6)

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

Latest Workout: 4f bullet in 47.11 (1/118) at Gulfstream Park on July 4.

Comments: There is just not much to say about this one. He does not run often and has not had a published work since his runner-up finish in the second division of the Arkansas Derby (G1). I take that back. He finally returned to the worktab July 4. I like his early-pressing speed and he tries hard throughout. His next start in undecided. They have been patient with him to say the least, and they are clearly in no hurry to run him again. They may or may not train him up to the Kentucky Derby.   


(7) RUSHIE (Liam’s Map – Conquest Angel, by Colonel John) –  Previous Ranking (#8)

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Trainer (Michael McCarthy) – Owner (Jim and Donna Daniell)

Latest Workout: 5f in 1:00.40 (2/33) at Del Mar on July 5.

Comments: Followed up a game optional claiming route victory at Oaklawn with a solid show finish in the SA Derby. I like his early-pressing versatility, and it looks like he is making steady progress. The Blue Grass Stakes on July 11 at Keeneland is next.   


(8) CEZANNE (Curlin – Achieving, by Bernardini) –  Previous Ranking (#7)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Magnier, Smith, Tabor, and St. Elias Stable)

Comments: They paid $3.65 million for this one, and he hit the ground running in his dirt sprint debut at Santa Anita on June 6. He was not quick out of the gate, but was right up on the pace and got stronger as the race wore on. He stretched out at Los Al in his second career start July 2, and he stalked, pulled clear, and scored by a bit less than two lengths. We will learn more about him when he steps into the stakes ranks in the coming weeks and months.    


(9) UNCLE CHUCK (Uncle Mo, by Forest Music, by Unbridled’s Song) – Previous Ranking (#19)

Trainer (Bob Baffert) – Owner (Pegram, Watson, and Weitman)

Comments: Ran away in his dirt route bow at Santa Anita June 12, and posted another easy win in the Los Al Derby (G3) on the Fourth of July. I like his early-pressing versatility, and he has plenty of upside after a pair of facile two turn victories from as many starts. He only faced three rivals in his stakes debut, and he had a relatively soft tactical trip in a race with no depth. I am not close to moving him anywhere near my top five Derby contenders at this stage. I need to see him tackle a deeper crew and run faster before I take that leap.


(10) ENFORCEABLE (Tapit – Justwhistledixie, by Dixie Union) –  Previous Ranking (#9)

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Trainer (Mark Casse) – Owner (John C. Oxley)

Latest Workout: 4f breeze in 49.60 (9/13) from the gate at Casse Training Center on July 3.

Comments: Has plenty of stakes experience with a win in the LeComte, a 2nd in the Risen Star, and a 3rd in the Breeders’ Futurity. He has not run since a flat 5th in the paceless Louisiana Derby. I liked him as a juvenile and earlier this year, and he returns to action in the July 11 Blue Grass Stakes.   


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

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

Comments: He finished out of the trifecta for the first time in the Belmont Stakes. Maybe it was the quick turnaround or the speed favoring surface. Either way, he never got involved, and I will just draw a line through that one. I like his late kick and he showed his class in the Sam F. Davis (G3) at Tampa Bay earlier this year. I still think he is better on turf.      

THE NEXT NINE: (12) Basin, (13) Pneumatic, (14) Ny Traffic, (15) Shared Sense, (16) Art Collector, (17) Thousand Words, (18) Storm the Court, (19) Modernist, (19), (20) Anneau d’Or