Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: Mar. 22, 2021

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March 22nd, 2021

The Road to the Kentucky Derby isn’t always a paved highway. To the contrary, the route can be rocky at times, with unforeseen twists and bends.

The challenging nature of the Kentucky Derby trail was readily apparent last week. Let’s catch up on all the latest news and see what transpired:

Changes on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

Saturday’s Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds was the first Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race awarding points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the top four finishers, which naturally shook up the leaderboard in a big way.

Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) runner-up Hot Rod Charlie ultimately claimed top honors, dueling for the lead through quick fractions before edging clear to score by two lengths. The son of Oxbow completed the 1 3/16-mile journey in the track-record time of 1:55.06 to cement his credentials as a serious player on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.

Indeed, Hot Rod Charlie now ranks atop the leaderboard with 110 points, well clear of Lecomte (G3) winner Midnight Bourbon (66 points), who settled for second in both the Louisiana Derby and the leaderboard rankings. O Besos (25 points, 11th place) and Proxy (34 points, ninth place) completed out the Louisiana Derby superfecta, which was sufficient to rank them both in the Top 20. Meanwhile, Louisiana Derby favorite Mandaloun (52 points) surprisingly weakened to finish sixth, though he still sits fourth on the leaderboard and should be safely in the Derby field.

Unfortunately, one name was removed from the Derby consideration last week. Undefeated San Felipe (G2) winner Life Is Good (60 points) has been sidelined with an ankle chip and will miss the spring classics, though he’s expected to make a full recovery and return to training later this year.

Recent Maiden Winners

Triple Crown nominees Perfect Cut and Masqueparade secured hard-fought maiden victories over the weekend, though Masqueparade needed a little help from the stewards to deny Alejandro first prize. Catch up on all the details in our latest Kentucky Derby Maiden Watch installment.

On the Work Tab

Brooklyn Strong: Turned in his sharpest workout of the year on Saturday at Parx Racing, speeding through five furlongs in a bullet :59.71.

Candy Man Rocket: On Tuesday at Payson Park, the Sam F. Davis (G3) winner breezed three furlongs in :37.40, his first workout since finishing 11th as the favorite in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

Collaborate: Breezed five furlongs in 1:01.18 on Sunday at Gulfstream, his final move before stepping up in class for the Florida Derby (G1).

Crowded Trade: Clocked a quick half mile in :48.01 over the Belmont Park training track on Sunday.

Dream Shake: Took to the Santa Anita main track on Saturday and rocketed five furlongs in a bullet :58.20.

Essential Quality: Fired off a bullet five furlongs in :59.00 on Saturday at Fair Grounds.

Hidden Stash: Cruised through five furlongs in 1:04.00 on Thursday at Payson Park.

Highly Motivated: Breezed a half mile in :48.01 over the Belmont Park training track on Sunday.

Greatest Honour: Turned in one of his typical straightforward half-mile workouts on Sunday at Payson Park, traveling the distance in :50.40.

Moonlite Strike: Recorded the bullet four-furlong workout on Saturday at Palm Meadows, completing the distance in :47.55.

Nova Rags: Cruised through three furlongs in :38.60 on Sunday at Payson Park.

Papetu: Traveled a quick six furlongs in 1:12.80 on Saturday at Gulfstream Park West.

Prevalence: Took things easy on Sunday at Palm Meadows, going four furlongs in :49.40.

Risk Taking: Tackled the Belmont Park training track on Sunday and breezed five furlongs in 1:01.84.

Roman Centurian: Clocked an easy four furlongs in :50.40 on Thursday at Santa Anita.

Rombauer: Flew through five furlongs in :59.20 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

Sittin On Go: Turned in a bullet five-furlong workout on Saturday at Gulfstream, getting the distance in a snappy :59.20.

Smiley Sobotka: Took a spin over the Gulfstream Park main track on Saturday, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.71.

Spielberg: Wrapped up his preparations for the Florida Derby (G1) by clocking a rapid five furlongs in :59.40 on Sunday at Santa Anita.

Weyburn: The Gotham (G3) winner got back in action with a half mile in :50.93 over the Belmont Park training track on Wednesday.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Travel Column and Clairiere resumed their rivalry in Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks (G2), which marked the third time the two talented fillies have squared off in a Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep race.

Heading into the Kentucky Oaks, the score is 2-1 in favor of Travel Column, who employed pace-tracking tactics to beat her rival by 2 3/4 lengths at Fair Grounds. Travel Column had previously defeated Clairiere in the Golden Rod (G2) at Churchill Downs last fall, but in between, Clairiere snatched a narrow victory in the Rachel Alexandra (G2) at Fair Grounds.

These consistent finishes have vaulted Travel Column (132 points) and Clairiere (94) to the top two spots on the Road to the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard. Fair Grounds Oaks third-place finisher Souper Sensational (24 points) currently rounds out the Top 10.

Looking Ahead

The action is set to heat up five weeks out from the Kentucky Derby. Saturday will see a bevy of Derby and Oaks qualifiers take place across the country, and even around the globe.

Here are the races to keep an eye on this week:

  • March 27, Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, 100-40-20-10: The final stop on Florida’s road to the Derby is expected to draw Fountain of Youth (G2) hero Greatest Honour, flashy allowance winner Known Agenda, and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) winner Spielberg.
  • March 27, Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, 100-40-20-10: Offering five times as many Derby qualification points as in 2020, the Jeff Ruby Steaks could feature a rematch between Hush of a Storm, Like the King, and Gretzky the Great, the top three finishers from the John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway.
  • March 27, UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan, 100-40-20-10: Across the globe in Dubai, Triple Crown nominees France Go De Ina, Rebel’s Romance, and Speight’spercomete could all take aim at the Derby if they run well on Saturday.
  • March 27, Fukuryu S. at Nakayama Racecourse, 40-16-8-4: The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby wraps up with the 1 1/8-mile Fukuryu, in which the fillies Ladybug (third in the Hyacinth S.), Giuditta (unbeaten in two starts), and Lance of Earth (victorious in the Nemophila Sho) are among the notable names.
  • March 27, Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at Gulfstream Park, 100-40-20-10: A pair of accomplished juveniles—Alcibiades (G1) winner Simply Ravishing and Demoiselle (G2) heroine Malathaat—will make their sophomore debuts in this important Kentucky Oaks qualifier.
  • March 27, Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, 50-20-10-5: Wait for Nairobi, who rallied to win the Cincinnati Trophy at Turfway last month, figures to draw plenty of support thanks to her proven affinity for the local Tapeta course.

Enjoy the racing!