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Graded Stakes Earnings Update: Line of David, Stately Victor Surprise to Earning Way Into Derby Field

| Churchill Downs Communications | 04/10/2010 #

The top two finishers in Saturday’s Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (Line of David and Paddy O’Prado) and Arkansas Derby (Stately Victor and Super Saver) are now positioned within the Top 20 of the Graded Stakes Earnings list that determines the prospective field for Kentucky Derby 136 on Saturday, May 1 at Churchill Downs. Meanwhile, the results of Saturday’s “Road to the Kentucky Derby” prep races now leave Jackson Bend, Backtalk, Aikenite and Make Music for Me on the outside looking in.

The $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) has been restricted to 20 starters since 1975. Graded stakes earnings accumulated in races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.

Surprise victories by 17-1 longshot Line of David ($600,000) and 40-1 outsider Stately Victor ($451,112) in the Blue Grass and Arkansas Derby, respectively, shook up the prospective field. Both needed victories to secure spots in the Kentucky Derby starting gate. Line of David banked $600,000 to vault to No. 5 in a tie with early Kentucky Derby favorite Eskendereya ($600,000), the runaway Fountain of Youth and Wood Memorial winner. Stately Victor, who began the day with just $1,112 in graded stakes earnings from a sixth place finish in last fall’s Breeders’ Futurity, jumped to No. 9.

Super Saver ($363,832), who began the week at No. 25 with $163,832, earned $200,000 for his runner-up neck defeat in the Arkansas Derby to climb to No. 14. Paddy O’Prado ($250,950) entered the Blue Grass with $100,950 and needed to run first or second to crack into the Top 20. The $150,000 second prize jumped his earnings to $250,950, which ranks at No. 19.

Earnings for the last horse in the Kentucky Derby starting gate have varied year to year. Last year, it took only $55,500 for Nowhere to Hide to complete the 20-horse field. Two years ago, the last horse in was Denis of Cork who had $165,000 – the highest total ever for the last spot in the field. Amazingly, this year’s No. 20 “bubble” position is held by Homeboykris with $250,500, which is $85,500 more than the 2008 record. In fact, there are 11 horses on the outside looking in with at least $150,000 in graded stakes earnings.

Uh Oh Bango ($237,952) began the week at No. 21 and, despite earning $50,000 for his fourth place finish in the Arkansas Derby, his position went unchanged. Wood Memorial runner-up Jackson Bend ($230,000), Illinois Derby fourth Backtalk ($225,916), Blue Grass Stakes eighth Aikenite ($218,000) and Blue Grass Stakes sixth Make Music for Me ($218,750) all fell out of the prospective field for the time being.

Aikenite needed a Top 5 Blue Grass finish to crack the Top 20 and Make Music for Me needed to finish in the Top 4. Meanwhile, No. 26 Odysseus ($183,750) and No. 29 Pleasant Prince ($166,250) needed Top 3 Blue Grass finishes but ran last and seventh, respectively. No. 35 Northern Giant ($132,500) and No. 40 Pulsion ($85,000) needed better showings in the Arkansas Derby but finished last and next-to-last.  

Last ditch efforts to make the Kentucky Derby field can also be made in next Saturday’s Grade II, $300,000 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland (1 1/16 miles) as well as the Grade III, $200,000 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial at Churchill Downs (one mile) and Grade III, $150,000 Withers at Aqueduct (one mile) on Saturday, April 24.

Triple Crown nominees Chief Counsel ($25,200), Connemara ($138,500), Distorted Dave ($0), Drosselmeyer ($87,000), Exhi ($358), Game On Dude ($0), Kettle River ($0), Prince Will I Am ($0), Quiet All American ($0) and Uptowncharlybrown ($29,000) have been mentioned as possible Lexington starters. If that is indeed the case, only No. 33 Connemara and Drosselmeyer could crack into the Top 20 as it stands today with a win. A victory is worth $180,000. Even so, trainer Todd Pletcher has said that he may choose not to run Connemara in the Derby even if he prevails, and trainer Bill Mott could bypass the race entirely and train Drosselmeyer up to the May 15 Preakness Stakes.

“Derby fever is big time right now; everybody’s getting it,” quipped Churchill Downs director of racing Ben Huffman, who compiles the official list of graded stakes earnings. “I would not be the least bit surprised if we get a couple of horses in The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial who’ll try and get some money to get into the Derby field a week out of the race.”

Of course, some spots could open; late defections due to illness, injury or a change of direction are not uncommon. Final decisions on No. 11 Conveyance ($386,000) and No. 17 Interactif ($307,950) might not be made until their trainers – Bob Baffert and Pletcher, respectively – watch their horses train over the Churchill Downs main track.

Fillies She Be Wild ($1,292,100), Blind Luck ($1,041,150), Devil May Care ($364,000) and Crisp ($225,000) appear more likely for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30, although Pletcher said on March 27 that the connections of Bonnie Miss winner Devil May Care hadn’t entirely ruled out the Derby just yet.

Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Vale of York-IRE ($1,114,784) is sidelined by colic and UAE Derby third Mendip ($200,000) appears likely to remain overseas. Firm plans for Coolmore’s Beethoven-IRE ($342,616), eligible for the English 2,000 Guineas, are unknown.

Trainer Rick Dutrow Jr. has said that D’ Funnybone ($420,000) “will not run in the Derby” but could be aimed at the Preakness. Also, his Radiohead-GB ($196,332) will target the Grade II, $175,000 American Turf at 1 1/16 miles on turf on Oaks Day. In mid-March, Buddy’s Saint ($210,000) was sidelined by a right front ankle chip following a workout at Gulfstream Park.

Here’s the Kentucky Derby 136 Graded Stakes Earnings Top 40 through April 10, which is based on known intentions or a consideration to run in the Kentucky Derby (with last week’s ranking on the Graded Stakes Earnings List):

1.    (1.)    Lookin At Lucky ($1,480,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (trained by Bob Baffert)

2.    (2.)    Noble’s Promise ($738,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Ken McPeek)

3.    (3.)    Rule ($645,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)

4.    (4.)    Sidney’s Candy ($630,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (John Sadler)

5.    (5.)    Eskendereya ($600,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)

5.    (New)    Line of David ($600,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (John Sadler)

7.    (6.)    Mission Impazible ($473,434) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)

8.    (7.)    Ice Box ($457,500) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Nick Zito)

9.    (New)    Stately Victor ($451,112) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Mike Maker)

10.    (8.)    Endorsement ($400,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Shannon Ritter)

11.    (9.)    Conveyance ($386,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Bob Baffert)

12.    (10.)    American Lion ($378,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Eoin Harty)

13.    (14.)    Dublin ($373,208) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (D. Wayne Lukas)

14.    (25.)    Super Saver ($363,832) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)

15.    (11.)    Discreetly Mine ($340,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)

16.    (12.)    Dean’s Kitten ($326,475) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Mike Maker)

17.    (15.)    Interactif ($307,950) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)?

18.    (13.)    Awesome Act ($285,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Jeremy Noseda)

19.    (34.)    Paddy O’Prado ($250,950) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Dale Romans)

20.    (16.)    Homeboykris ($250,500) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Rick Dutrow Jr.)

21.    (21.)    Uh Oh Bango ($237,952) – Unknown (Kory Owens)

22.    (17.)    Jackson Bend ($230,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Nick Zito)

23.    (18.)    Backtalk ($225,916) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Tom Amoss)

24.    (19.)    Aikenite ($221,750) – Unknown (Todd Pletcher)

25.    (20.)    Make Music for Me ($218,750) – Unknown (Alexis Barba)

26.    (t-22.)    Odysseus ($183,750) – Unknown (Tom Albertrani)

27.    (t-22.)    A Little Warm ($180,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Tony Dutrow)

27.    (t-22.)    Setsuko ($180,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Richard Mandella)

29.    (26.)    Pleasant Prince ($166,250) – Unknown (Wesley Ward)

30.    (27.)    Tempted to Tapit ($156,000) – Unknown (Steve Klesaris)

31.    (28.)    Caracortado ($153,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby or May 15 Preakness (Mike Machowsky)

32.    (29.)    Yawanna Twist ($147,000) – Unknown (Rick Dutrow Jr.)

33.    (30.)    Connemara ($138,500) – April 17 Coolmore Lexington (Todd Pletcher)

34.    (31.)    Schoolyard Dreams ($137,500) – Unknown (Derek Ryan)

35.    (32.)    Northern Giant ($132,000) – Unknown (D. Wayne Lukas)

36.    (33.)    Eightyfiveinafifty ($120,000) – April 24 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (Gary Contessa)

37.    (New)    First Dude ($97,500) – Unknown (Dale Romans)

38.    (35.)    Alphie’s Bet ($90,000) – Unknown (Alexis Barba)

39.    (36.)    Drosselmeyer ($87,000) – April 17 Coolmore Lexington or May 15 Preakness (Bill Mott)

40.    (37.)    Pulsion ($85,000) – Unknown (Patrick Biancone)

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