Kentucky Derby Favorite: Tiz the Law
The New York-bred Kentucky Derby contender, Tiz the Law, possessed by Sackatoga Stable and trained by Barclay Tagg are the prohibitive favorite Derby regardless of who shows up in Louisville. Blue Grass (G2) and Ellis Park Derby winner Art Collector is a likely second option. Following that, a trio of California-based colts — five-time Derby winner Bob Baffert’s Authentic (Haskell winner) and Thousand Words (Shared Belief winner), and the John Shirreffs-trained Honor A.P. (Santa Anita Derby winner), should be following when the morning is declared during Derby week.
The Derby points standings were finished on Saturday, when favorite Pneumatic won the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth Park. The Pegasus was one of more than a half-dozen races Churchill Downs added to the list of qualifiers since the reshuffling of events because of COVID-19 postponed the Derby four weeks.
Tiz the Law, ridden by Manny Franco, is atop the leaderboard with 372 points, and is 4-for-4 this season — the Holy Bull (G3), Florida Derby (G1), Belmont Stakes (G1) and Travers (G1). A formidable record, with overpowering victories in his latest races, has him in the head of this class.
Art Collector, managed by little-known-outside-the-Midwest coach Tommy Drury, could be the surprise celebrity: Like Tiz the Law, this colt is 4-0 in 2020; using a pair of allowance-optional promising wins, a success in the Blue Grass (G2) followed with a win in the Ellis Park Derby.
In question is whether the 1 1/4-mile Derby distance is too far for Authentic — he barely hung on to win the 1 1/8-mile Haskell with a nose over Ny Traffic; and was next to Honor A.P. from the 1 1/8-mile Santa Anita Derby, beaten 2 3/4 lengths.
Kentucky Derby Favorites
Thousand Words stepped up by beating Honor A.P. at the 1 1/16-mile Shared Belief, but includes a shaky resume which includes three wins to start his career (Los Alamitos Futurity, Robert B. Lewis among them), but followed with a fourth at the San Felipe (G2), 11th in the Oaklawn Stakes, and second at the Los Alamitos Derby (G3).
Only a couple months ago, Baffert was loaded for the Derby. His Arkansas Derby branch winners, unbeatens Charlatan and Nadal, are both sidelined with disorders. (Charlatan was disqualified from his triumph in the Arkansas Derby to get a positive of an overage of this drug lidocaine.)
But, Baffert also has one of the greatest fillies for the Sept. 4 Kentucky Oaks (G1) in Gamine, that will take on Alabama (G1) winner Swiss Skydiver in what might be the beginning of a gorgeous rivalry.
Because of health and safety concerns, attendance will be less than 23,000, according to Churchill Downs (less than 14% of the record crowd of 170,513 in 2015). Strict protocols will be followed by audiences in addition to participants — coaches, owners, jockeys, grooms, and backstretch workers.
With recent rules set by Churchill Downs for jockeys to take part, several leading riders opted from the Derby. Among those who will not be in the Derby are top riders Irad Ortiz, Jr., brother Jose Ortiz, Joel Rosario and Luis Saez, who finished first in the 2019 Derby aboard Maximum Security (the horse had been DQ’d to 17th for interference).
With that, here is the rest of the Derby horses that earned enough points to conduct — if they do or not will be known over the next few weeks:
Despite his runner-up finish from the Shared Belief, this colt will be one of the gambling favorites off his pedigree and a record of two wins and three seconds in five career races.
Kentucky Derby Horses
King Guillermo, last seen running next to Nadal at a branch of the Arkansas Derby on May 2, revealed he is in good shape with a 5-furlong job in 59.40 minutes at Churchill on Saturday. He will be ridden by Samy Camacho.
“He really enjoys it in Kentucky,” King Guillermo’s exercise rider Edgar Medina said following the job.
Dr Post, trained by two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher, made his Derby trip using a runner-up campaign in the Belmont and a third in the Haskell. He is No. 8 on leaderboard with 80 points.
“We will check in with the owners and come up with a game plan,” Pletcher said. “The Derby is in play for certain. We’re pleased with the way he is going, so we’ll see how the next few weeks go.”
Max Player, third in the Travers, will be saddled by Steve Asmussen as routine trainer Linda Rice will stay in New York (Saratoga); Caracaro, next from the Travers, is Derby bound and Hall of Famer Javier Castellano is expected to be aboard.
Others in top 20 on the leaderboard are Pneumatic, Enforceable, the filly Swiss Skydiver (likely to operate in the Oaks, per trainer Kenny McPeek), Rushie, Major Fed, 2-year-old winner Storm the Court, Attachment Rate, Sole Volante, Finnick the Fierce, and Winning Impression.