Weekly Overview of the KY Derby Scene

With just a month remaining until the Kentucky Derby, there are a dozen horses who are assured of a place in the big race. In our weekly overview of the KY Derby scene, we look back at a weekend that turned White Abarrio and Cyberknife into major contenders, and forward to this weekend and the big names in the frame for the last three 100pt preps, the Santa Anita Derby, the Blue Grass and the Wood Memorial.

White gets it right

The G1 Florida Derby is always a vital bell-wether for the Kentucky Derby, and White Abarrio (8-1) put himself front and centre with an impressive success at Gulfstream Park last weekend. The grey colt saw off a strong field in some comfort, underlining the promise he had shown in the G3 Holy Bull at the same track, and he shapes as though the extra furlong at Churchill Downs will be within his grasp.

The runner-up Charge It (13-1) looked green on just his third start and hung in behind the winner as he was asked to go through with his challenge, going down by a length and a quarter. He will move up for this and the 40 Road to the Kentucky Derby points he earned will probably put him in the gate, but trainer Todd Pletcher has not yet fully committed to the Derby.

Third-placed Simplification (25-1), who tired in the closing stages after pressing a brisk pace, is firmly on course for Churchill Downs, but the participation of Classic Causeway (28-1) is uncertain after the colt led for five furlongs and then stopped to nothing, eventually finishing last. Potential Derby winners don’t tend to finish last in their final prep.

Brad Cox now has a serious Derby threat in Cyberknife (12-1), who is peaking at precisely the right time and took down a slightly patchy field in style in the G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. Runner-up Barber Road (25-1) has been beaten in all three of his preps but has sufficient RTKD points to qualify, although he clearly lacks a dash of class.

Confirmation that Tiz The Bomb (15-1), winner of the G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park, will head for Louisville rather than shipping to Europe was provided by trainer Kenny McPeek, although the colt is manifestly better on turf/synthetics than he seems to be on dirt. Runner-up Tawny Port was beaten eight lengths into fifth by Derby favorite Epicenter in the G2 Risen Star on his previous start, indicating that Tiz The Bomb must not only prove he acts on dirt but must find considerable improvement at the same time.

Overview of the KY Derby big weekend ahead

It’s the last chance to board the train for Churchill Downs, with three 100pt RTKD preps offering the winner and probably the runner-up a place in the Derby. The G1 Santa Anita Derby will likely have a short field, but it will contain brilliant G2 San Felipe winner Forbidden Kingdom (8-1) and 15-length G3 Robert B Lewis winner Messier (7-1), who is now eligible to earn qualifying points.

Keeneland plays host to the G1 Blue Grass, in which G2 Risen Star two-three Smile Happy (10-1) and Zandon (18-1) bid to finally secure a place in the Derby gate, and the G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct features G3 Gotham winner Morello (15-1), G3 Withers winner Early Voting (25-1) and G2 Remsen winner Mo Donegal (15-1).

Kentucky Derby odds (Jazz racebook)

5-1 Epicenter

7-1 Messier

8-1 Forbidden Kingdom, White Abarrio

10-1 Smile Happy

12-1 Cyberknife

13-1 Charge It

15-1 Mo Donegal, Morello, Tiz The Bomb

18-1 Zandon

20-1 Crown Pride (Jpn)

25-1 Barber Road, Early Voting, Simplification

28-1 Classic Causeway

30-1 Slow Down Andy,Zozos

33-1 Emmanuel

35-1 Ethereal Road, In Due Time

45-1 Pappacap,Rattle N Roll

50-1 Summer Is Tomorrow

55-1 Pioneer Of Medina

60-1 bar

Bold: horse assured of a run in the Kentucky Derby on RTKD points basis

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