Derby fever rises a couple of degrees this Saturday and there could be several new additions to the Churchill Downs Leaderboard top 20 as phase two of the “Road To The Kentucky Derby” kicks off with the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park and the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds racetrack.
Under the new scoring system implemented by Churchill Downs to determine eligibility for horses to enter the Derby starting gate, the winner of both races will receive 50 points while second-place will yield 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.
Currently, trainer Todd Pletcher tops the leaderboard with five horses in the top 20. Trainer Bob Baffert is in second place with four horses in the top 20 (see top 20 list at the end of this blog).
Let’s take a look at the Fountain of Youth Stakes.
Seeking to maintain his lead as top trainer, Pletcher will send Violence, who’s making his debut as a 3-year-old, to the starting gate as the prohibitive 9-5 morning-line favorite in the prestigious $400,000 graded-stakes race.
Violence was a horse I profiled in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook and I’ve been looking forward to see how he would fare as a 3-year-old. As a 2-year-old, Violence was undefeated in three starts including a 2-length win in the Nashua Stakes (G2) and a 1¼-length win in the CashCall Futurity Stakes (G1). My pick in the CashCall, Vilolence has a nice turn of foot and speed that I like to see in a young colt I believe may have classic potential.
Violence’s sire, Medaglia d’Oro, was a pretty good middle-distance runner with seven wins and five second-place finishes in 14 route races. He finished second in his only start as a 2-year-old but as a 3-year-old he won the San Felipe Stakes (G2) and finished second in the Wood Memorial Stakes (G1) en route to the 2002 Derby where he finished in fourth place.
Gone West, the damsire of Violence, also was a competitive middle-distance runner. As a 2-year-old, he won a 7-furlong maiden race at Belmont Park and finished the season with a 1-1-1 record in four starts.
As a 3-year-old, Gone West won the one-mile Gotham Stakes (G2) and Withers Stakes (G2). He finished second in the 7-furlong Hutcheson Stakes (G3) and finished third in the 8½-furlong Fountain of Youth Stakes (G3).
If Violence repeats his form as a 2-year-old, he’ll be competitive in the Fountain of Youth.
Another young colt I profiled in my 2013 Kentucky Derby Outlook is Falling Sky who will go to the start gate tied with Majestic Hussar as the morning-line, third co-choice at 6-1 odds.
Falling Sky, leading from gate to wire in his debut as a 3-year-old, narrowly won the Sam F Davis Stakes (G3) by a neck over Speak Logistics (12-1) who is also entered in the Fountain of Youth.
His only loss as a 2-year-old came to Purple Egg in the Inaugural Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on December 1 and he comes into the Fountain of Youth with a 3-0-0 in four starts. Falling Sky has room to improve in his second start of the season and he has the breeding to be competitive on the Derby trail.
Lion Heart, the sire of Falling Sky, was a tough competitor and good middle-distance horse that won the Hollywood Prevue Stakes (G3) and Hollywood Futurity (G1) as a 2-year-old. As a 3-year-old, Lion Heart finished second in the San Rafael Stakes (G2) and Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (G1) en route to a second-place finish to Smarty Jones in the 2004 Kentucky Derby.
The tail-female line of Falling Sky is reinforced by the Classic Champion Thoroughbreds Sea Hero, Roberto and Bold Ruler. Slew City Slew, the sire of Falling Sky’s second dam, was not a classic champion, but he was a tough competitor that compiled am 11-8-2 record in 32 route races and earned over $1.1 million during his racing career.
If Falling Sky continues to move forward he should be competitive in the Fountain of Youth.
Honorable mention goes to long shots Speak Logistics and Elmutahid (20).
In his last race, Speak Logistics was taken up in the stretch drive of the Sam F. Davis Stakes and finished a disappointing fourth. He gets a jockey switch to Joel Rosario and if he can get a clean trip, he could be competitive in the Fountain of Youth.
Elmutahid struggled as a 2-year-old but finally broke his maiden on his 3-year-old debut running 9-furlongs at Gulfstream Park on January 19. Elmutahid is stepping up in class and he has room to improve in his second start of the season. Ekmutahid has the breeding to be competitive and if he looks good in the post parade, he may be worthy of a small wager.
Here’s a look at the current top 20 list:
Kentucky Derby 2013 Leaderboard
(Updated February 19, 2013)
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1 = Shanghai Bobby, 24, Todd Pletcher, $1,731,000
2 = Goldencents, 24, Doug O’Neill, $740,000
3 = Oxbow, 11, D. Wayne Lukas, $180,000
4 = Violence, 10, Todd Pletcher, $495,000
5 = Itsmyluckyday, 10, Eddie Plesa, Jr., $393,600
6 = Overanalyze, 10, Todd Pletcher, $296,381
7 = Uncaptured, 10, Mark Casse, $292,374
8 = Den’s Legacy, 10, Bob Baffert, $265,000
9 = Power Broker, 10, Bob Baffert, $210,000
10 = Super Ninety Nine, 10, Bob Baffert, $200,000
11 = Will Take Charge, 10, D. Wayne Lukas, $152,971
12 = Falling Sky, 10, John Terranova II, $122,500
13 = Flashback, 10, Bob Baffert, $120,000
13 = Revolutionary, 10, Todd Pletcher, $120,000
15 = Dynamic Sky, 8, Mark Casse, $271,668
16 = He’s Had Enough, 6, Doug O’Neill, $430,000
17 = Fear The Kitten, 6, Mike Maker, $84,890
18 = Tesseron, 5, Josie Carroll, $49,017
19 = Bern Identity, 4, Kelly Breen, $572,000
20 = Capo Bastone, 4, Todd Pletcher, $246,000