Premier Pegasus, who earned $150,000 for his runaway victory in Saturday’s Grade II, $250,000 San Felipe at Santa Anita, jumped from No. 27 to No. 13 on the Kentucky Derby 137 Graded Stakes Earnings List. The list will likely determine the field for the “Run for the Roses” on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs.
The $2 million guaranteed Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (Grade I) has been restricted to 20 starters since 1975. Graded stakes earnings accumulated in races on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.
In other movement on the list, San Felipe runner-up Jaycito, who banked $50,000, moved up four spots into a tie for ninth with To Honor and Serve at $250,000 apiece. Comma to the Top remained at No. 5 after the $15,000 fourth-place check pushed his graded stakes earnings to $471,000.
Brethren faltered as the 1-2 favorite in Saturday’s Grade III, $350,000 Tampa Bay Derby, but added $35,000 for his third-place finish and moved from No. 21 to No. 16 with $155,000. The top-two finishers, Watch Me Go and Crimson Knight, were not among the early Triple Crown nominees, but can be made eligible for $6,000 when the late nomination period closes March 26 at midnight ET. The same goes for Joes Blazing Aaron, winner of Saturday’s Grade III, $150,000 Palm Beach over Gulfstream Park’s turf course.
Reigning 2-year-old champ Uncle Mo, ranked atop the list with $1.26 million, solidified his status as the early Kentucky Derby favorite with a 3 ¾-length win in Saturday’s $78,400 Timely Writer at Gulfstream Park, an ungraded one-mile prep for the Grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 9.
In other Top 25 action, Willcox Inn, ranked No. 19 with $139,000, finished second in Saturday’s $59,400 Grindstone at 7 ½ furlongs on turf at Fair Grounds. Also, No. 21 Sweet Ducky ($120,000) is changing barns. According to The Blood-Horse’s Steve Haskin, the Holy Bull runner-up has been sold by George and Lori Hall to an anonymous buyer and will be pointed to the Group 2, $2 million UAE Derby on March 26. The Hall’s trainer Kelly Breen had been pointing Sweet Ducky to the Grade I, $1 million Florida Derby on April 3.
Three horses were removed from this week’s list. The connections of Blue Laser (No. 17 a week ago), Lou Brissie (No. 23) and Major Gain (No. 26) told Churchill Downs officials their horses were no longer under serious consideration for the Derby.
Here’s the Kentucky Derby 137 Graded Stakes Earnings Top 25 through March 13 (with last week’s ranking on the Graded Stakes Earnings List plus graded stakes earnings and the trainer of the horse):
Rank (Last Week) Horse, Graded Stakes Earnings, Trainer (Possible Next Race)
- (1.) Uncle Mo, $1,260,000, Todd Pletcher (April 9 Wood Memorial)
- (2.) Gourmet Dinner, $780,000, Steve Standridge (April 3 Florida Derby or April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
- (3.) J P’s Gusto, $540,000, Joe Petalino (March 19 Rebel)
- (4.) Soldat, $510,000, Kiaran McLaughlin (April 3 Florida Derby)
- (5.) Comma to the Top, $471,000, Peter Miller (TBA)
- (6.) Rogue Romance, $288,000, Ken McPeek (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass or Arkansas Derby)
7. (7.) Mucho Macho Man, $270,000, Kathy Ritvo (March 26 Louisiana Derby)
8. (8.) Stay Thirsty, $260,000, Todd Pletcher (April 3 Florida Derby or April 16 Arkansas Derby)
9. (13.) Jaycito, $250,000, Bob Baffert (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
9. (9.) To Honor and Serve, $250,000 Bill Mott (April 3 Florida Derby)
11. (10.) Santiva, $240,254, Eddie Kenneally (April 16 Toyota Blue Grass)
12. (11.) Dialed In, $240,000, Nick Zito (April 3 Florida Derby)
13. (27.) Premier Pegasus, $228,000, Myung Kwon Cho (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
14. (12.) Decisive Moment, $206,000, Juan Arias (March 26 Louisiana Derby or April 3 Florida Derby)
15. (14.) Anthony’s Cross, $162,000, Eoin Harty (April 9 Santa Anita Derby)
16. (21.) Brethren, $155,000, Todd Pletcher (TBA)
17. (15.) Archarcharch, $150,000, Jinks Fires (March 19 Rebel)
18. (16.) Riveting Reason, $147,500, Myung Kwon Cho (TBA)
19. (18.) Willcox Inn, $139,000, Mike Stidham (TBA)
20. (19.) Silver Medallion, $124,334, Steve Asmussen (TBA)
21. (20.) Sweet Ducky, $120,000, TBA (March 26 UAE Derby)
22. (22.) Astrology, $105,893, Steve Asmussen (March 19 Rebel)
23. (24.) Flashpoint, $90,000, Rick Dutrow Jr. (April 3 Florida Derby or Swale)
23. (24.) The Factor, $90,000, Bob Baffert (March 19 Rebel)
25. (28.) Sway Away, $60,000, Jeff Bonde (March 19 Rebel)
25. (28.) Wilkinson, $60,000, Neil Howard (March 26 Louisiana Derby)
Just one open graded stakes event is carded seven weeks in advance of the Derby. Saturday’s Grade Grade II, $300,000 Rebel at Oaklawn Park is a steppingstone to the Grade I, $1 million Arkansas Derby at 1 1/8 miles on April 16. The 1 1/16-mile race, which features a $180,000 first prize ($60,000 for second, $30,000 for third, $15,000 for fourth, $9,000 for fifth and $6,000 split between the remaining starters), could attract five horses in the Top 25 – No. 3 J P’s Gusto ($540,000), No. 17 Archarcharch ($150,000), No. 22 Astrology ($105,893), No. 23 The Factor ($90,000) and No. 25 Sway Away ($60,000). Alternation ($0), Bluegrass Jam ($0), Caleb’s Posse ($11,504), Dreaminofthewin ($0), Elite Alex ($25,000), Glint ($0), J W Blue ($0), Picko’s Pride ($0) and Smoke It Right ($0) have also been mentioned as possible starters. Entries close Thursday.
Churchill Downs, the world’s most legendary racetrack, has conducted Thoroughbred racing and presented America’s greatest race, the Kentucky Derby, continuously since 1875. Located in Louisville, the flagship racetrack of Churchill Downs Incorporated (NASDAQ: CHDN) also operates Trackside at Churchill Downs, which offers year-round simulcast wagering at the historic track. Churchill Downs will conduct the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 7, 2011. The track’s 2010 Spring Meet is scheduled for April 30-July 4, 2011. Churchill Downs has hosted the Breeders’ Cup World Championships a record seven times and the event will return to the track for its next renewal on Nov. 4-5, 2011. Information about Churchill Downs can be found on the Internet at www.churchilldowns.com.