Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: Dec. 7, 2020
The Road to the Kentucky Derby made a stop at Aqueduct last week, where a pair of exciting 2-year-olds pulled well clear of their rivals in a competitive renewal of the Remsen (G2).
Meanwhile, a pair of Road to the Kentucky Oaks qualifiers took place at opposite ends of the country, raising the stock of the two proven stakes performers who secured signature victories.
Let’s take a look at how things unfolded in our latest Kentucky Derby and Oaks roundup:
Changes on the Kentucky Derby & Oaks Leaderboards
A new name joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby on Saturday when Brooklyn Strong rallied to a tenacious victory in the Remsen (G2) at Aqueduct. Previously victorious in the Sleepy Hollow S. at Belmont Park, the New York-bred son of Wicked Strong unleashed an unwavering rally from fourth place in a small field to defeat 5-4 favorite Ten for Ten by a neck.
By completing the 1 1/8-mile race in a quick 1:50.60 over a sloppy track, Brooklyn Strong picked up 10 qualification points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, debuting in sixth place on the leaderboard. Ten for Ten earned four points to settle in 12th place, the strength of his Remsen effort indicated by the fact he pulled 8 3/4 lengths clear of the third-place runner.
Distant Remsen superfecta finishers Known Agenda (2 points, 16th place) and Pickin’ Time (1 point, 17th place) also rank in the Road to the Kentucky Derby Top 20 at this early juncture.
The Road to the Kentucky Oaks took a couple of significant turns on Saturday. Malathaat was the first to strike, overcoming a tricky trip over sloppy going to win the 1 1/8-mile Demoiselle (G2) by three-quarters of a length. Previously victorious in a maiden race and the Tempted S., the undefeated daughter of Curlin sits eighth on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with 10 points.
Demoiselle runner-up Millefeuille (4 points, 12th place), third-place finisher Malibu Curlin (2 points, 18th place) and fourth-place runner Café Society (1 point, 23rd place) likewise made their leaderboard debuts.
Across the country at Los Alamitos, Chandelier (G2) runner-up Varda enhanced her position on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard with an upset victory in the Starlet (G1), advancing to fourth place with 14 points. Conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert, Varda rallied from last place to run down stablemate Kalypso (4 points, 10th place) by 1 1/2 lengths.
Nasreddine (2 points, 14th place) and Astute (1 point, 20th place) rounded out the Starlet superfecta and completed the weekend changes to the leaderboard.
Off the Road to the Kentucky Derby Trail
Unfortunately, the Starlet outcome wasn’t quite so favorable for a third Baffert trainee, Princess Noor. The 3-5 favorite took command at the top of the stretch, but suffered a soft tissue injury shortly afterward and was pulled up by jockey Victor Espinoza.
Considering Princess Noor had defeated Varda by 8 1/4 lengths in the Sept. 26 Chandelier (G2) at Santa Anita, it’s easy to assume she would have cruised to victory in the Starlet if not for her injury. Sadly, we won’t get a chance to see Princess Noor race as a 3-year-old—on Sunday, it was announced the daughter of Not This Time will retire to become a broodmare.
Looking Ahead on the Road to the Kentucky Derby
The Road to the Kentucky Oaks is done for the year, but the Road to the Kentucky Derby will stay busy. Following a one-week hiatus, action will resume on Dec. 19 with the the 1 1/16-mile Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) at Los Alamitos, a 1 1/16-mile event awarding qualification points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis. The following day, the Remington Springboard Mile at Remington Park will award qualification points on an identical structure.
In addition, the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby continues on Dec. 16 with the Zen-Nippon Nisai Yushun, a National Association of Racing (NAR) Group 1 worth 20-8-4-2 to the top four finishers.