TRIPLE CROWN UPDATE: LAST CALL
Upsets were again the order of the day in the final two Kentucky Derby prep races, which took place Saturday.
In the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, which offered 100 points to the winner, Super Stock parlayed a good trip behind the speed to a 12-1 victory under pilot Ricardo Santana, Jr. for trainer Steve Asmussen. And in Keeneland’s Lexington Stakes, offering 20 to the winner, King Fury rallied from well back to win going away at odds of 18-1 under Brian Hernandez, Jr.; Kenny McPeek is the trainer.
The top three from the Arkansas Derby – Super Stock, Caddo River, and beaten 3-10 favorite Concert Tour – have enough points to head to Louisville for the May 1 Derby. Super Stock now has 109 points, while Concert Tour has 70 and Caddo River has 50. The cutoff at the moment looks to be 40.
“He came out of it beautifully,” Steve Asmussen told the Daily Racing Form about Super Stock. “We’re very excited. He flies to Louisville on Tuesday.”
None of the top four from the Lexington looks likely to move forward to the Derby, however. Proxy, a well-beaten fourth, is the points leader of that group, and his 36 points will leave him on the outside looking in unless there are defections. King Fury’s win gave him 20 total points.
“Whether he gets in (the Kentucky Derby), it’s out of our control,” said King Fury’s trainer, Kenny McPeek. “We’ll see how he bounces out. We think a mile-and-a-quarter would be great. We’ll look at the opposition. The Preakness (G1) is a great race too. It could be either-or, but it would definitely one or the other.”
At this point, the top 20 horses still under consideration for the Kentucky Derby all have at least 40 points.
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That list is topped by the undefeated Essential Quality, who earned the Eclipse as two-year-old champion of 2020 and hasn’t skipped a beat since. Trained by Brad Cox for Godolphin, the Tapit colt has won all five of his starts and most recently prevailed in a thrilling edition of the Grade 2 Blue Grass Stakes, winning by a neck over Highly Motivated.
“He looks good this morning and I am happy with the way he came out of the race,” Cox said of Essential Quality the morning after the Blue Grass. “I liked that he got a test yesterday. It was not like he just galloped up to the leader and went on by.”
Essential Quality has 140 points and is one of eight horses to have earned at least 100 points. Of that group, all but UAE Derby winner Rebel’s Romance is on track for Louisville.
Of the top 20 by points, three horses have been removed from Derby consideration. In addition to Rebel’s Romance, those are the Shug McGaughey-trained Greatest Honour (80 points), most recently third in the Grade 1 Florida Derby; and the Bob Baffert trainee Life Is Good (60 points), winner of the Grade 2 San Felipe March 6.
If there are further defections, horses with at least 30 points include Proxy, Lexington Stakes show horse Rombauer (34), Blue Grass fourth-place finisher Hidden Stash (32), and Dream Shake, third in the Santa Anita Derby.
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PREP RACE REPLAYS AND STANDINGS
|1||Essential Quality (KY) / T: Brad Cox / O: Godolphin||140|
|2||Hot Rod Charlie (KY) / T: Doug O’Neill / O: Roadrunner Racing, Boat Racing LLC, and William Strauss||110|
|3||Super Stock (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Erv Woolsey and Keith Asmussen||109|
|4||Like the King (KY) / T: Wesley Ward / O: M Racing Group LLC||104|
|5||Known Agenda (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: St Elias Stable||102|
|6||Rock Your World (KY) / T: John Sadler / O: Hronis Racing LLC and Talla Racing LLC||100|
|7||Rebels Romance (IRE) / T: Charles Appleby / O: Godolphin LLC||100|
|8||Bourbonic (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Calumet Farm||100|
|9||Greatest Honour (KY) / T: Shug McGaughey / O: Courtlandt Farms||80|
|10||Medina Spirit (FL) / T: Bob Baffert / O: Zedan Racing Stables Inc.||74|
|11||Concert Tour (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: Gary West and Mary West||70|
|12||Midnight Bourbon (KY) / T: Steve Asmussen / O: Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC||66|
|13||Weyburn (Ontario) / T: James Jerkens / O: Chiefswood Stables Lt.d||60|
|14||Life Is Good (KY) / T: Bob Baffert / O: CHC Inc. and WinStar Farm LLC||60|
|15||Mandaloun (KY) / T: Brad Cox / O: Juddmonte Farms Inc.||52|
|16||Highly Motivated (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.||50|
|17||Helium (KY) / T: Mark Casse / O: D J Stable LLC||50|
|18||Caddo River (KY) / T: Brad Cox / O: Shortleaf Stable||50|
|19||Soup and Sandwich (FL) / T: Mark Casse / O: Live Oak Plantation||40|
|20||Sainthood (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: WinStar Farm LLC and CHC Inc||40|
|21||Panadol (NY) / T: Salem bin Ghadayer / O: Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed al Maktoum||40|
|22||Dynamic One (KY) / T: Todd Pletcher / O: Repole Stable, St. Elias Stable, and Phipps Stable||40|
|23||Crowded Trade (KY) / T: Chad Brown / O: Klaravich Stables Inc.||40|
|24||Proxy (KY) / T: Michael Stidham / O: Godolphin Racing||36|
|25||Rombauer (KY) / T: Michael McCarthy / O: John & Diane Fradkin||34|