The Road to the Kentucky Derby series is in full swing, with a pair of qualifiers in the books this year and 12 races total since the opening event last September. These early qualifying races offer points on a 10-4-2-1 sliding scale to the top four finishers, with the exception of the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) which was worth double in late October.
The value increases to 50-20-10-5 for eight races beginning with the TwinSpires.com Risen Star (G2) on February 20 and the final round of preps, which consists of seven races starting in late March, rewards points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the top four.
The 142nd running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands takes place on May 7.
Nyquist, who is expected to be named 2-year-old champion at Saturday’s Eclipse Awards ceremonies, heads the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard with 30 points following wins in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and FrontRunner Stakes (G1). Trained by Doug O’Neill, who captured the 2012 Kentucky Derby with I’ll Have Another, Nyquist is unbeaten from five career starts.
Click to view the complete Leaderboard.
The New Year kicked off with the Jerome (G3) at Aqueduct on January 2 and Flexibility proved to be an easy winner for trainer Chad Brown, registering a 92 BRIS Speed rating for the 4 1/4-length decision. By 2006 Kentucky Derby runner-up Bluegrass Cat, Flexibility jumped into a three-way tie for third with 14 points, adding 10 more to the 4 he earned finishing second to the well-regarded Mohaymen in the November 28 Remsen (G2).
After making his first two starts on turf, Collected switched to dirt and pocketed 10 points for capturing the January 9 Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita. A son of City Zip, Collected is in good hands with Bob Baffert, a four-time Kentucky Derby winner who trained 2015 Triple Crown superstar American Pharoah. However, Collected received a disappointing 89 BRIS Speed rating after scoring comfortably by a 1 ¼-length margin over late-running stablemate Let’s Meet in Rio.
A pair of qualifying races will be offered this holiday weekend, with full fields entered for Saturday’s TwinSpires.com Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds and Monday’s Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park, and we’ll recap the action in next week’s update.