©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
The “Road to the Kentucky Derby” express will log a lot of miles this Saturday with qualifying races on the east and west coast. At Santa Anita Park, Dortmund has been tagged as the 8-5 morning line favorite in the 78th running of the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes (G2). Post time is 6:00 p.m. ET.
For many, including me, the San Felipe will be the most anticipated race to date on the Derby Trail. Dortmund and Ocho Ocho Ocho, who is also entered in this race at 4-1 morning line odds, were both ranked in my 2015 Kentucky Derby Outlook top ten list.
Both colts are undefeated. However, Dortmund has made one start this year in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) and his narrow win increased his victory count to four while Ocho Ocho Ocho has three victories to his credit and his last win was in the Delta Downs Jackpot Stakes (G3) at Delta Downs last November.
DORTMUND three deep early, pressed the pace outside a rival, took a short lead midway on the backstretch, battled between foes then inside on the second turn and into the stretch, fought back under urging in the final furlong to regain the advantage in deep stretch and gamely prevailed.
OCHO OCHO OCHO away well from the outside, dropped inside entering the first turn, inched closer up the backstretch, reached a striking position entering the second turn, dueled with MR Z through the second turn, remained engaged with that one through the drive and outfought his rival.
It remains to be seen if Ocho Ocho Ocho can win off of a three month layoff. Nevertheless, his trainer, Jim Cassidy, indicated that he should run a good race.
“He’s coming into the race fine. He’s done everything we could have done,” said Cassidy in a Daily Racing Form news story by Jay Privman. “But the plan is for two races before the Derby. I don’t want to knock him out. But if he runs well, that’s Okay.”
Both Dortmund and Ocho Ocho Ocho are talented colts and like many others, I’m looking forward to watching them run Saturday. Two recent bullet work outs could have Ocho Ocho Ocho to run a good race in his debut as a three year old.
In addition to Dortmund, Baffert also has Lord Nelson (4-1) entered in this race and he looks like he could be competitive.
Lord Nelson comes into this race with a 3-0-0 record in five starts including wins in the Speak Easy Stakes and San Vicente Stakes (G2). All of his wins have been in sprint races and in his previous starts at 8½-furlongs, Lord Nelson finished off board in the FrontRunner Stakes (G1) and Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2).
However, Lord Nelson has the breeding to be competitive at this distance and if he can move forward off of his win in the San Vicente, he could be competitive.
Bolo (6-1) and Prospect Park (4-1) are coming into this race off victories where they won by open lengths and look like they could be competitive, too.
The San Felipe Stakes (G2) is part of the Kentucky Derby Championship Series consisting of 16 races. Winners in those races will receive 50 points, the second-place finisher will receive 20 points, the third-place finisher will receive 10 points and the fourth-place finisher will receive 5 points.
Halfway through this series beginning with the UAE Derby (G2), Florida Derby (G1) and Louisiana Derby (G2) on March 28, the points will increase to 100 points for the winner, 40 points for second place, 20 points for third and 10 points for fourth place.
Calculator, ranked 5th in the January 24 Kentucky Derby point standings, is sidelined with an injury for six months and he’s off the Derby trail. Leave the Light On, ranked 13th, is also off the trail.
Texas Red is sidelined with a foot abscess but could, perhaps, return to racing in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) or Arkansas Derby (G1).
Here’s a look at the current top twenty Derby qualifiers
2015 KENTUCKY DERBY LEADERBOARD
Individual Leaders ranking, total points, Trainer, Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings
1. International Star, 71, Mike Maker, $490,979
2. Itsaknockout, 50, Todd Pletcher, $240,500
3. Upstart, 36, Rick Violette Jr., $615,680
4. El Kabeir, 25, John Terranova II, $380,792
5. War Story, 24, Tom Amoss, $120,000
6. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
7. Dortmund, 20, Bob Baffert, $390,000
8. Carpe Diem, 14, Todd Pletcher, $660,000
9. Mr. Z, 14, D. Wayne Lukas, $518,326
10. Frosted, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $176,200
11. Texas Red, 12, Keith Desormeaux, $1,176,000
12. Keen Ice, 12, Dale Romans, $106,520
13. Ocho Ocho Ocho, 10, Jim Cassidy, $660,000
14. American Pharoah, 10, Bob Baffert, $360,000
15. Daredevil, 10, Todd Pletcher, $300,000
16. Far From Over, 10, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
17. Metaboss, 10, Jeff Bonde, $126,000
18. Lucky Player, 10, Steve Asmussen, $97,231
19. Frammento, 10, Nick Zito, $42,000
20. Firing Line, 8, Simon Callaghan, $130,000