After a couple quiet weeks, the Kentucky Derby (G1) leaderboard will see some changes throughout the afternoon of February 3 when the Withers (G3), Holy Bull (G2), and Robert B. Lewis (G3) offer qualifying points of 10-4-2-1 to their respective top four finishers.

Firenze Fire (#2) could shoot to the top of the standings with a third prep win in the Withers at Aqueduct. With some concerns that the Champagne (G1) and Jerome scorer might be better suited long term to one-turn races, it will be interesting to see whether the Jason Servis trainee can refute that theory in the nine-furlong test. Among his expected rivals is Avery Island (#14), hero of the Nashua (G3) and runner-up in the Remsen (G2).

The 1 1/16-mile Holy Bull at Gulfstream will serve as a rematch between Enticed (#7) and Tiz Mischief (#18), who were separated by a head at the finish of the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) at Churchill Downs in November. Tiz Mischief is one of several pointing for the Holy Bull from the barn of Dale Romans. Also under consideration are either Breeders’ Futurity (G1) winner Free Drop Billy (#8) and the multiple stakes-placed Hollywood Star (#16), both of whom disappointed in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) when last seen in November.

The Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita, also at 1 1/16 miles, was the seasonal launching pad for I’ll Have Another toward the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle six years ago. A new entrant into the Derby Top 20 is expected to emerge from a field that includes Peace, a last-out maiden winner for Richard Mandella, and Shivermetimbers, who beat Peace two starts back but ran fourth in January 6 Sham (G3).


(Coady Photography)