A shakeup in the potential foreign involvement in this year's Run for the Roses and the scoring of points by non-Triple Crown nominees highlighted this week's changes on the Kentucky Derby Leaderboard.
Thunder Snow became the first three-year-old to reach the 100-point mark with his game victory over Japanese invader Epicharis in Saturday's UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan. A Group 1 winner on turf in France at two, Thunder Snow is now two-for-two on dirt and will likely become Godolphin's latest Kentucky Derby (G1) entry as he was made a late Triple Crown nominee last week.
Epicharis, who had previously clinched a Derby berth winning the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Series, will reportedly pass on a trip to Churchill Downs in favor of the Preakness (G1) and/or Belmont (G1). It also appears unlikely that either of the next two Japanese contenders, Mont Saint Legame or Adirato, who was up the track in the UAE Derby, will purse the trip to Kentucky.
The probable forfeiture of the reserved spot in the Derby starting gate by a Japanese interest will open up a space for another domestic hope. One colt who needn't worry about making the field is Hence (#5), who virtually secured a spot following a victory in Sunday's $800,000 Sunland Derby (G3), worth 50 points to the winner.
Runner-up in the Sunland Derby was Conquest Mo Money, who would need to be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000. Dr. Kendall Hansen, the owner of Saturday's upset Spiral (G3) winner Fast and Accurate, will also need to pony up to make his colt, who earned 50 qualifying points for the Turfway win, eligible. Hansen has indicated he would after selling a share in Fast and Accurate at the weekend, and so the gray currently sits at #7.
The first 100 points-to-the-winner domestic preps begin Saturday with the Florida Derby (G1) and TwinSpires.com Louisiana Derby (G2). Among those looking to move up the Leaderboard include Gunnevera, Girvin, State of Honor and Guest Suite.
Both races and their stakes-laden undercards can be viewed and wagered-on at TwinSpires.com.
(Dubai Racing Club photo)