Defections, Santa Anita Derby shake up Kentucky Derby leaderboard

Jun 08, 2020 Vance Hanson/

A lot can change in a month when you're talking about a Kentucky Derby (G1) in May or, as is the case this year, September.

Within the last 10 days, Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert has seen his leading candidates Nadal and Charlatan, each of whom won Arkansas Derby (G1) divisions a little more than a month ago, drop out of the Kentucky Derby picture entirely due to injury. Nadal, in fact, has been permanently retired.

Baffert's leading hope now is Authentic, who didn't get the best of trips when second in Saturday's Santa Anita Derby (G1) as the favorite. Climbing to second in the Kentucky Derby points race was Santa Anita winner Honor A. P., whose action suggests he'll crave 1 1/4 miles as much as anyone in the field.

The standings will remain unchanged until the afternoon of June 20, when the Belmont S. (G1) opens the 2020 Triple Crown over a reduced distance of 1 1/8 miles. The Belmont will offer special Kentucky Derby qualifying points of 150-60-30-15 to the top four finishers.

Current top 20 horses including Tiz the Law, Modernist, Basin, Gouverneur Morris, and Sole Volante are all candidates for the Belmont. Sole Volante could wheel back in 10 days from a June 8 allowance at Gulfstream Park which will also feature stablemate Ete Indien and Shivaree.

One horse not going to Belmont is recent Matt Winn (G3) hero Maxfield, who instead goes to the Blue Grass (G2) at Keeneland on July 11. The Blue Grass will offer 100 points to the winner, as does the Haskell (G1) at Monmouth Park the following week on July 18.

In between the Belmont and Blue Grass, three smaller preps will offer Derby qualifying points of 20-8-4-2 to the top four: the Ohio Derby (G3) at Thistledown on June 27; Los Alamitos Derby (G3) on July 4; and Indiana Derby (G3) on July 8.

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