©2015 Calvin L. Carter. All rights reserved.
This Saturday, we’ll log a lot of miles on the “Road to the Kentucky Derby” which will take us to Florida, Louisiana and the nation of the United Arab Emirates where the winners of those three races will each receive 100 qualifying points and a guaranteed spot in Derby starting gate on the first Saturday in May.
At the Fair Grounds Race Course in Louisiana, International Star will go to the starting gate as the 3-1 morning line favorite in the 102nd running of the $750,000 Louisiana Derby (G2). Post time is 6:24 p.m. ET.
International Star comes into this race for trainer Michael Maker with a 4-2-0 record in eight starts. He’s already faced several horses in this field and he’s a proven competitor at the Fair Grounds winning both the Le Comte Stakes (G3) and Risen Start Stakes (G2) earlier this season.
I look for International star to be competitive in this race and I’ll be watching closely to see how well he handles the stretch out to nine furlongs.
A mild long shot I like in this race is Keen Ice (5-1) who’s compiled a 1-0-2 in six starts for trainer Dale Romans. In this herd, Keen Ice has the best pedigree but he’s yet to live up to his full potential.
However, his third-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), last out, could be a signal that Keen Ice is getting good at the right time of year and he could be ready to make another big move forward.
For most of the stretch in the Risen Star, Keen Ice ran behind a wall of horses. But, when he found running room, he was able to get up for third, just 2¾-lengths behind the winner, International Star.
I look for Keen Ice to be competitive in the Louisiana Derby (G2), and, if jockey James Graham can ride him free and clear, perhaps he could pull off an upset at a nice price.
Stanford (5-1) is a new horse in this herd and he also has the breeding to be competitive. He comes into this race for trainer Todd Pletcher with a 2-0-0 record in four starts. However, in his last race he finished second to stablemate Materiality in the Islamorada Handicap but was disqualified and placed sixth.
This race will be the second start for Stanford at nine furlongs and he has room to improve in his third start of the season as a three year old. A recent bullet work out could have him ready and I look for him to run a good race.
War Story (4-1) has never finished worse than second in four starts and he comes into this race for trainer Tom Amoss off of two back-to-back second place finishes to International Star in the Le Comte Stakes (G3) and Risen Star Stakes (G2).
War is always competitive and I look for him to run a good race. A recent bullet work could have him ready to run a career best race.
Mr. Z (4-1) is another new horse in this herd. He comes into this race with a 1-4-3 record in 10 starts for trainer D. Wayne Lukas and he picks up veteran jockey Kent Desormeaux who rode War Story in the Risen Star.
Mr. Z should be competitive, but I don’t look for him to win.
I could not find any specific mention of television coverage for the Louisiana Derby (G2) but it most likely it will be during the TVG broadcast of the Florida Derby from 6:30-7:30 p.m. ET. It also may be on the NBC Sports Network from 6-7 p.m. ET.
This weekend with the running of the Florida Derby (G1), Louisiana Derby (G2) and UAE Derby (G2), the winner of these races will receive 100 points, second-place finishers will receive 40 points, third-place finishers will get 20 points and fourth-place finishers will get 10 points.
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. Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Texas Red had returned to training but was recently taken off of the Derby Trail due to a lingering issue with a foot abscess.
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. El Kabeir, 75, John Terranova II, $620,792
2. International Star, 71, Mike Maker, $490,979
3. Dortmund, 70, Bob Baffert, $630,000
4. Carpe Diem, 64, Todd Pletcher, $870,000
5. American Pharoah, 60, Bob Baffert, $810,000
6. Firing Line, 58, Simon Callaghan, $530,000
7. *Dubai Sky, 50, Bill Mott, $371,780
8. Itsaknockout, 50, Todd Pletcher, $240,500
9. Upstart, 36, Rick Violette Jr., $615,680
10. Conquest Typhoon, 26, Mark Casse, $430,827
11. War Story, 24, Tom Amoss, $120,000
12. Far Right, 22, Ron Moquett, $385,906
13. Madefromlucky, 20, Todd Pletcher, $150,000
14. Ami’s Flatter, 20, Josie Carroll, $99,200
15. Prospect Park, 20, Cliff Sise, Jr., $80,000
16. *Tiz Shea D, 20, Bill Mott, $80,000
17. Bold Conquest, 17, Steve Asmussen, $162,176
18. Mr. Z, 14, D. Wayne Lukas, $518,326
19. Frosted, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $176,200
20. Classy Class, 13, Kiaran McLaughlin, $85,000
* Late nominations to the Kentucky Derby.