When it comes to the Triple Crown, we’ve reached the storm before the calm before the storm. In other words, we’ve reached the last frenzy of qualifying, 100-point races before the Triple Crown itself kicks off with the May 1 Kentucky Derby.

The first 100-point race, the Louisiana Derby, took place March 20 at the Fair Grounds, and it went to the California invader Hot Rod Charlie. The Doug O’Neill trainee went to the front early and kept right on going to win a race that is not only the first triple-digit contest of the season but also, at 1 3/16 miles, the longest of the prep races.

The point system in place is specifically for entry into the Kentucky Derby. Derby points races also award points for finishing second through fourth, with second getting 40 percent of the winner’s haul, third getting 20 percent, and fourth getting 10 percent. Thus, a 100-point race is worth 100 to the winner, 40 to the runner-up, 20 to the show horse, and 10 to the fourth-place finisher.

The Louisiana Derby win, coupled with a couple of earlier stakes placings, gives Hot Rod Charlie the current top spot on the points leaderboard with 110. No other runner has more than Louisiana Derby runner-up Midnight Bourbon’s 66 points, a number he’s earned the hard way: through a win in the 10-point Lecomte and four stakes placings, including the Louisiana Derby.

In 2019, 40 points was the cutoff to qualify for the Kentucky Derby; in most prior years since the system was implemented in 2013, 32 or more figured to be sufficient. Last year, of course, was an outlier because of the elongated Derby trail necessitated by the Covid-19 pandemic.

At the moment, an even dozen horses have more than 32 points, while 10 have 40 or more.

Not all of the horses who do have or may get to sufficient points to qualify will face the starter in Louisville, however. Life Is Good recently (60 points) recently came off the Derby trail because of injury. Drain the Clock (20 points) and Jackie’s Warrior (14) both are being pointed to races shorter than the classic distances.

Thus, at the moment, the horses tied for 20th in points – Papetu and Moonlite Strike – have 11 points apiece. The former is 15-1 on the morning line for Saturday’s 100-point Florida Derby, the latter 12-1 on the morning line in the 100-point Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park.

Those are two of the three 100-point races on the Derby trail on Saturday, the third being the UAE Derby at Meydan on the Dubai World Cup undercard.

Additional 100-point races still to come:

  • The Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland April 3;
  • The Santa Anita Derby April 3;
  • The Wood Memorial at Aqueduct April 3; and
  • The Arkansas Derby April 10.

1Hot Rod Charlie (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing LLC, and William Strauss110
2Midnight Bourbon (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC66
3Life Is Good (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC60
4Greatest Honour (KY) / T: Shug McGaughey / O: Courtlandt Farms60
5Mandaloun (KY) / T: Brad Cox / O: Juddmonte Farms Inc.52
6Weyburn (Ontario) / T: James Jerkens / O: Chiefswood Stables Lt.d50
7Helium (KY) / T: Mark Casse / O: D J Stable LLC50
8Concert Tour (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: Gary West and Mary West50
9Essential Quality (KY) / T: Brad Cox / O: Godolphin40
10Proxy (KY) / T: Michael Stidham / O: Godolphin Racing34
11Medina Spirit (FL) / T: Bob Baffert / O: Zedan Racing Stables Inc.34
12O Besos (KY) / T: Gregory Foley / O: L. Barrett Bernard, Tagg Team Racing and West Point Thoroughbreds25
13Hidden Stash (KY) / T: Victoria Oliver / O: BBN Racing LLC22
14Hozier (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Stonestreet Stables LLC, Golconda Stables, Siena Farm LLC and Robert Masterson20
15Drain the Clock (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: Slam Dunk Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Wonder Stables, and Michael Nentwig20
16Crowded Trade (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.20
17Keepmeinmind (KY) / T: Robertino Diodoro / O: Cypress Creek LLC & Arnold Bennewith18
18Spielberg (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: SF Racing et. al.17
19Rombauer (KY) / T: Michael McCarthy / O: John & Diane Fradkin14
20Jackies Warrior (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Kirk and Judy Robison14
21Capo Kane (CA) / T: Harold Wyner / O: Bing Cherry Racing & Leonard Liberto12
22Papetu (KY) / T: Antonio Sano / O: Magic Stables LLC11
23Moonlite Strike (KY) / T: Saffie Joseph Jr. / O: Sonata Stable11
24Sittin On Go (KY) / T: Dale Romans / O: Albaugh Family Stables10
25Risk Taking (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.10