Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: March 15, 2021

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

March 15th, 2021

With less than seven weeks remaining until the first Saturday in May, the Road to the Kentucky Derby is about to enter its final stage, when the stakes are highest and the contenders are separated from the pretenders.

But before we look ahead to the lucrative qualifying races still to come, let’s reflect on the relevant Derby action that transpired during the second week of March:

Changes on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

Six-time Kentucky Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert already had two probable Derby qualifiers in the form of Life Is Good (60 points) and Medina Spirit (34 points). On Saturday, the Hall of Fame conditioner added a third likely starter when Concert Tour posted a resounding victory in the $1 million Rebel (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

Concert Tour left no doubt about his superiority in the 1 1/16-mile race, which awarded points to the top four finishers on a 50-20-10-5 basis. Dashing boldly to the lead under Joel Rosario, the son of Street Sense carved out a steady pace before drawing clear under almost no urging at all to trounce his pursuers by 4 1/4 lengths.

With 50 qualification points to his credit, Concert Tour has debuted in fourth place on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard, essentially locking up a spot in the starting gate. His stablemate Hozier (20 points, 12th place) also took a solid step toward qualifying after rallying up the rail to finish a distant second. Big Lake (10 points, 27th place) and Super Stock (nine points, 31st place) also earned points while completing the Rebel superfecta, but both currently rank outside the Top 20 on the leaderboard.

RELATED: Tales from the Crib - Life Is Good

Recent Maiden Winners

Six years ago, superstar American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown for Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert. Now, American Pharoah’s half-brother Triple Tap is in the headlines following a flashy debut victory at Santa Anita. Will the Bob Baffert trainee join the Road to the Kentucky Derby off a single win in a maiden sprint? Learn more about Triple Tap in our latest Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch update.

On the Work Tab

Brooklyn Strong: With the Wood Memorial (G2) as his goal, last year’s Remsen (G2) hero clocked five furlongs in 1:01.13 on Saturday at Parx.

Essential Quality: In his first timed exercise since winning the Southwest (G3), the undefeated champion two-year-old of 2020 traveled a half mile in :48.20 on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Greatest Honour: The Fountain of Youth (G2) winner returned to the work tab on Saturday, breezing a deceptively quick half mile in :50.20 over the slow track at Payson Park.

Hot Rod Charlie: Concluded his serious training for the Louisiana Derby (G2) by working five furlongs in 1:00.00 on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Mandaloun: In his final move before the Louisiana Derby, the Risen Star (G2) winner sped five furlongs in 1:00.60 on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Midnight Bourbon: Breezed four furlongs to complete his preparations for the Louisiana Derby, traveling the distance in :49.20 on Monday at Fair Grounds.

Nova Rags: Traveled a half mile in :49.80 on Sunday at Payson Park.

O Besos: Wrapped up his preparations for the Louisiana Derby by breezing five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Friday at Fair Grounds.

Proxy: Clocked a half mile in :49.60 on Saturday at Fair Grounds, his final breeze before tackling the Louisiana Derby.

Risk Taking: Took to the Belmont Park training track on Saturday and worked five furlongs in 1:02.10 in preparation for the Wood Memorial.

Rombauer: Turned in a solid half-mile work on Sunday at Santa Anita, getting the distance in :48.00.

Smiley Sobotka: Flashed speed on Sunday at Gulfstream Park, clocking five furlongs in a snappy :59.16.

Spielberg: Worked a half mile in :48.20 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Tarantino: Cruised through an easy four furlongs in :50.80 on Sunday at Palm Meadows.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

No Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep races were held last weekend, so the leaderboard remains unchanged with Will’s Secret (60 points) leading the way.

Looking Ahead

The Derby and Oaks trails will heat up to another level on Saturday, when Fair Grounds hosts the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) and the $400,000 Fair Grounds Oaks (G2). Both races will award qualification points to their top four finishers on a 100-40-20-10 basis, double the value of other recent prep races.

The 1 3/16-mile Louisiana Derby is shaping up to be a rematch of last month’s Risen Star (G2) at Fair Grounds, with top-four finishers Mandaloun, Proxy, Midnight Bourbon, and O Besos back in the entries. They’ll be joined by Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie, flashy maiden winner Run Classic, and Risen Star also-rans Starrininmydreams and Rightandjust.

The Fair Grounds Oaks has also come up with a deep field. Stakes winners Clairiere, Travel Column, Moon Swag, and Souper Sensational lead the charge after finishing 1-2-3-6 in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds last month, but they aren’t the only prominent names in the entries. The undefeated Zaajel will draw plenty of support off a victory in the Forward Gal (G3), while Li’l Tootsie looks like a promising up-and-comer after winning maiden and allowance races at Fair Grounds. Obligatory and ll Malocchio complete the field.

Enjoy the racing!