Defections mean shrinking number of Derby bubble horses

Profile Picture: Vance Hanson

April 19th, 2021

Less than two weeks out from the Kentucky Derby (G1), it appears nearly everyone who wants to run in the Churchill Downs classic may have the opportunity.

With the defections of Concert Tour, Panadol, Crowded Trade, and Rombauer in the past week, the number of horses "on the bubble" has diminished considerably.

After the latest leaderboard update from Churchill Downs on Monday, two horses in the top 20, Caddo River and Dream Shake, remain on the fence. Just three horses outside the top 20 are ready to move up, should one or both of those slots open up.

King Fury, who impressively captured the Lexington (G3) in his season debut April 10, currently sits 21st on the leaderboard. Although well handled in all of his graded attempts last fall, the regally bred son of Curlin and Grade 1 winner Taris looked to turn the corner when he captured the Lexington by a widening margin in the slop at Keeneland.

The winner of the Street Sense S. at Churchill in the fall, King Fury is trained by Kenny McPeek, who has already recorded victories the other two Triple Crown events. McPeek thinks King Fury will be well suited in the step up in distance from 1 1/16 miles to 1 1/4 miles.

The next "bubble" horse, Keepmeinmind, was a better juvenile than King Fury. He won the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), after he placed behind Derby favorite Essential Quality in both the Breeders' Futurity (G1) and Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1).

However, the son of Laoban has not produced especially competitive speed figures and was not competitive in either of his two preps this year, in the Rebel (G2) and Blue Grass (G2).

Should a third slot open up, Starrininmydreams, who has a mere four qualifying points, might take it. The Dallas Stewart trainee won his first two starts at Churchill Downs during the fall, but the son of 2010 Derby winner Super Saver has so far proven to not be up to Derby class.

Far up the track in the Risen Star (G2), he then ran fifth in the Louisiana Derby (G2) and most recently finished third in the Lexington, five lengths behind King Fury.