Kentucky Derby Roundup: Aug. 17, 2020

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

August 17th, 2020

Stay up to speed on the Road to the Kentucky Derby news with a weekly roundup of all the latest news and developments:

Changes on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard

The Road to the Kentucky Derby wrapped up on Saturday with the Pegasus S., a 1 1/16-mile event at Monmouth Park awarding qualification points to the top four finishers on a 20-8-4-2 basis.

Pneumatic, favored at 4-5 off a fourth-place effort in the Belmont Stakes (G1), delivered on expectations with a confident victory. Rolling home in front by 2 1/4 lengths pushed the son Uncle Mo into 11th place on the leaderboard with 45 points, more than enough to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

However, current plans call for Pneumatic to skip the Kentucky Derby and instead target the Oct. 3 Preakness (G1), providing an opportunity for Pegasus runner-up Jesus’ Team to sneak into the Derby field. Previously fourth in the Haskell (G1), Jesus’ Team exited the Pegasus ranked 21st on the leaderboard with 18 points, but will slip into the Top 20 if Pneumatic skips the Derby as expected.

Meanwhile, Country Grammer, Shivaree, Uncle Chuck, Anneau d’Or, Dean Martini, and Shared Sense have all been removed from Kentucky Derby consideration following disappointing efforts in the Aug. 8 Travers (G1) and Aug. 9 Ellis Park Derby.

Kentucky Derby News and Notes

Churchill Downs has announced that all jockeys planning to ride in the Kentucky Derby must arrive in Kentucky by Aug. 31 and receive testing for COVID-19 in advance of the race. When coupled with the post-Derby quarantining measures required for jockeys returning to New York and California, some of the nation’s top riders are expected to skip the trip to Churchill Downs.

Among the jockeys planning to pass on the Derby are Eclipse Award winners Irad Ortiz and Jose Ortiz, plus 2013 Kentucky Derby-winning rider Joel Rosario. As a result, jockey assignments for several Kentucky Derby contenders remain in flux.

On the opposite end of the spectrum, John Velazquez and Florent Geroux are both planning to ride at Churchill Downs, prompting five-time Derby-winning trainer Bob Baffert to assign them the mounts on Authentic and Thousand Words, respectively.

On the Kentucky Derby Work Tab

Authentic: Picked up the pace in a Thursday workout at Del Mar, blazing 6 furlongs in a bullet 1:12.60.

Dr Post: Turned in a straightforward maintenance breeze on Friday at Saratoga, going 5 furlongs in 1:01.44.

Enforceable: Traveled five-eighths of a mile in 1:01.40 on Monday at Churchill Downs.

Finnick the Fierce: Cruised through an easy half-mile in :52.80 on Thursday at The Thoroughbred Center.

Happy Saver: Breezed a straightforward half-mile in :49.77 on Saturday at Saratoga.

Honor A. P.: With jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, Honor A. P. turned in a stiff workout at Del Mar on Saturday, flying through 5 furlongs in :59.40.

King Guillermo: Fired off another fast workout on Saturday, clocking 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.40 at Churchill Downs.

Kiss Today Goodbye: Worked a slow half-mile in :50 over the Del Mar turf course on Sunday.

Max Player: In his first workout since being transferred to Churchill Downs under the care of trainer Steve Asmussen, the Travers (G1) third-place finisher clocked 5 furlongs in 1:01.80 on Monday.

Money Moves: Breezed a half-mile in :48.55 on Friday at Saratoga.

Ny Traffic: Cranked up the heat on Thursday at Saratoga, firing off 5 furlongs in a bullet 1:00.38.

Rushie: Flashed serious speed in a Thursday workout at Del Mar, sprinting 5 furlongs in a bullet :59.60.

Shirl’s Speight: Undefeated Marine (G3) winner roared through 5 furlongs in a bullet :57 over the Woodbine dirt training track on Thursday.

Thousand Words: Turned in a serious workout on Monday at Del Mar, clocking 6 furlongs in a stiff 1:11.80.

Looking Ahead

With every Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race officially in the books, the next two weeks will be packed with training and workout notes as the Derby contenders sharpen their speed for the first Saturday in September.

The coming weeks should also clarify which horses currently ranked in the Top 20 might skip the Kentucky Derby in favor of other targets. In addition to Pneumatic, the filly Swiss Skydiver and the Santa Anita Derby (G1) third-place finisher Rushie are still doubtful for the Derby, which could allow bubble horses Necker Island (12 points) and Kiss Today Goodbye (10 points) to squeeze into the field.