Gunnevera, J Boys Echo rise to top of Derby leader board

Mar 06, 2017 Vance Hanson/

Wins by Gunnevera in the Fountain of Youth (G2) and J Boys Echo in the Gotham (G3) last Saturday elevated the two colts to the top of the Kentucky Derby (G1) leader board, thus virtually cementing their participation in the year’s first classic at Churchill Downs.

While Gunnevera (64 points) and J Boys Echo (53) lead the way, Fountain of Youth runner-up Practical Joke also improved his position, increasing his point total from 14 to 34. Beaten Gotham favorite El Areeb, on the other hand, dropped a couple spots after garnering only 10 points for his third-place effort at odds of 2-5.

Making their initial appearances in the Derby Top 20 are Cloud Computing, a clear second in the Gotham despite having only previous start, and the speedy Three Rules, who held on for third in the Fountain of Youth. However, the latter is an unlikely Derby participant regardless of what happens in the final round of preps next month as connections have expressed interest in the Preakness (G1) due to that race’s shorter distance.

Two well-regarded colts widely expected to make a major jump up the leader board next weekend are Grade 1 winners Gormley and Mastery, who will square off in the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita, worth 50 points to the winner and 20 for second.

The same point amounts will be up for grabs in Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2), also at 1 1/16 miles. With Sam F. Davis (G3) winner McCraken temporarily sidelined due to a minor injury, expect a relatively fresh face to confirm their position in the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

(Coady Photography)

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