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Will It Take $200,000 in Graded Stakes Earnings to Start in Kentucky Derby 136?
Assuming those already firmly positioned within the Top 20 Graded Stakes Earnings list perform well in prep races on April 3, 10 and 17 and exit those races in good order, it’s conceivable that it could take as much as $200,000 in graded stakes earnings to crack the Kentucky Derby 136 field on the first Saturday in May.
After all, there’s still plenty of money to be earned in the $750,000 Wood Memorial (April 3), $750,000 Santa Anita Derby (April 3), $500,000 Illinois Derby (April 3), $1 million Arkansas Derby (April 10), $750,000 Toyota Blue Grass (April 10) and $300,000 Coolmore Lexington (April 17). Last ditch efforts could also be made in the $200,000 The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial (April 24) at Churchill Downs or the $150,000 Withers (April 24).
The Kentucky Derby has been restricted to 20 starters since 1975, and the current system to determine the field by highest graded stakes earnings has been in place since 1986. The “bubble” to get in has 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.
As of April 1, this year’s Top 20, which is based on known intentions or a consideration to run in the Kentucky Derby, looks like this:
- Lookin At Lucky ($1,390,000) – April 3 Santa Anita Derby (trained by Bob Baffert)
- Noble’s Promise ($708,000) – April 10 Arkansas Derby (Ken McPeek)
- Rule ($645,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)
- Mission Impazible ($473,434) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)
- Ice Box ($457,500) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Nick Zito)
- Endorsement ($400,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Shannon Ritter)
- Conveyance ($386,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Bob Baffert)
- Discreetly Mine ($340,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Todd Pletcher)
- Dean’s Kitten ($326,475) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Mike Maker)
- Dublin ($273,208) – April 10 Arkansas Derby (D. Wayne Lukas)
- Interactif ($270,450) – April 10 Toyota Blue Grass (Todd Pletcher)
- Homeboykris ($250,500) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Rick Dutrow Jr.)
- Aikenite ($218,000) – April 10 Toyota Blue Grass (Todd Pletcher)
- Make Music for Me ($215,000) – April 10 Toyota Blue Grass (Alexis Barba)
- Awesome Act ($210,000) – April 3 Wood Memorial (Jeremy Noseda)
- Uh Oh Bango ($187,952) – April 10 Arkansas Derby (Kory Owens)
- A Little Warm ($180,000) – May 1 Kentucky Derby (Tony Dutrow)
- Odysseus ($180,000) – April 10 Toyota Blue Grass (Tom Albertrani)
- Sidney’s Candy ($180,000) – April 3 Santa Anita Derby (John Sadler)
- Backtalk ($172,566) – April 3 Illinois Derby (Tom Amoss)
Rule, Mission Impazible, Ice Box, Endorsement, Conveyance, Discreetly Mine, Dean’s Kitten, Homeboykris and A Little Warm won’t have another Derby prep race. On March 28, A Little Warm’s trainer Tony Dutrow told Daily Racing Form that if it was left up to him, he would not go to the Derby, which could open another spot. Also, final decisions on Conveyance and Interactif might not be made until their trainers – Bob Baffert and Todd Pletcher, respectively – watch their horses train over the Churchill Downs main track.
Fillies She Be Wild ($1,272,100), Blind Luck ($861,150), Devil May Care ($364,000) and Crisp ($225,000) appear more likely for the $500,000-added Kentucky Oaks on Friday, April 30, although trainer Todd Pletcher said last weekend that the connections of Bonnie Miss winner Devil May Care haven’t entirely ruled out the Derby just yet.
Godolphin’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Vale of York-IRE ($1,114,784) has been sidelined by colic and UAE Derby third Mendip ($200,000) appears likely to remain overseas, along with Coolmore’s Beethoven-IRE ($342,616).
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) appears more likely for 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.
Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial – Aqueduct, Race 9, 5:12 p.m. ET (NBC Sports, 5-6 p.m. ET)
- First: $450,000
- Second: $150,000
- Third: $75,000
- Fourth: $37,500
- Fifth: $22,500
- Sixth: $15,000
Likely In: Awesome Act ($200,000 in graded stakes earnings). Needs Top 3 Finish: Eskendereya ($150,000). Needs Top 2 Finish: Schoolyard Dreams ($100,000) and Jackson Bend ($80,000). Must Win: Carnivore ($0). Not Nominated: Most Happy Fella ($0).
Grade I, $750,000 Santa Anita Derby – Santa Anita, Race 6, 5:36 p.m. ET (NBC Sports, 5-6 p.m. ET)
- First: $450,000
- Second: $150,000
- Third: $90,000
- Fourth: $45,000
- Fifth: $15,000
Already In: Lookin At Lucky ($1,390,000). Needs Top 4 Finish: Sidney’s Candy ($180,000). Needs Top 3 Finish: Caracortado ($108,000). Needs Top 2 Finish: Alphie’s Boy ($90,000), What’s Up ($60,000) and Cardiff Giant ($54,000). Must Win: Setsuko ($30,000), Posse Power ($18,000) and Thomas Baines ($0). Not Nominated: Skipshot ($0).
Grade I, $500,000 Illinois Derby – Hawthorne, Race 7, 5:37 p.m. ET
- First: $291,000
- Second: $97,000
- Third: $53,350
- Fourth: $29,100
- Fifth: $14,550
- Sixth: $5,000
- Seventh: $5,000
- Eighth: $5,000
Needs Top 4 Finish: Backtalk ($172,566). Must Win: American Lion ($87,000), Dave in Dixie ($30,000), Turf Melody ($13,857), Boulder Creek ($3,000) and Game Ball ($0). Not Nominated: Stephen’s Got Hope.
Note: Horses not nominated to the Triple Crown can only run in the Kentucky Derby if less than 20 eligible horses are entered.