2020 Kentucky Derby

Kentucky Derby Futures: Major shakeups ahead of historic Belmont Stakes

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The road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve has, due to a global public health crisis, stretched out through the summer and widened considerably. With the Derby rescheduled to Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, the pool of potential contenders to make the 20-horse starting gate now welcomes late-developing types to join the horses that have already won major preps and earned qualifying points.

The bookmakers at William Hill continue to take fixed-odds future wagers on Kentucky Derby 146 and, as in years past in this blog, we’ll take a periodic look at William Hill’s future-book odds and profile some of the contenders.

The substantially revised Road to the Kentucky prep season is coming into focus as we march into June, and there’s been a major shakeup at the top of the leaderboard due to race results and injuries. In particular, Bob Baffert’s once-formidable lineup has been thinned out, after Arkansas Derby second division winner Nadal was retired due to a condylar fracture and Arkansas Derby first division winner Charlatan was sidelined due to a minor ankle issue. Furthermore, Baffert’s other leading contender Authentic saw his undefeated streak come to an end in the June 6 Runhappy Santa Anita Derby. And in a late-breaking development occurring after William Hill’s latest odds were posted, top contender Maxfield suffered an injury during a workout that will take him off of the Kentucky Derby trail and possibly end his career (see below).

Vegas Derby future odds are sure to change even more after June 20, when the 152ndBelmont Stakes will be held. In this unprecedented year, the Belmont is the first leg of the Triple Crown, and it’s been added to the Kentucky Derby prep series offering qualifying points to the top four finishers on a 150-60-30-15 scale.

NBC is home to the 152nd Belmont Stakes, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV and NBCSports.com before, during and after the main event. Coverage runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. on NBC, just hours after NBC’s coverage of the final day of the Royal Ascot in England. See the broadcast schedule here.

June 7 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby:

1) Tiz the Law (4-1)

1) Honor A. P. (4-1)

3) Authentic (6-1)

4) Maxfield (7-1) (Injured–see update below)

5) Sole Volante (10-1)

Notable Changes: Nadal, tied with Tiz the Law at the top of William Hill’s Derby Futures leaderboard in our last update on May 5, and Charlatan, ranked third at the time, are both out of the Derby picture (and Nadal is moving on to a stud career). The biggest move came from Santa Anita Derby winner Honor A. P., who jumped from 12-1 odds on May 5 to his current 4-1, placing him in a tie with probable Belmont Stakes starter Tiz the Law at the top of the list. Honor A. P. earned a 105 Equibase Speed Figure in the win, his third straight triple-digit figure in a row, and his sweeping move to the lead coming out of the far turn, where he put away Authentic, was visually impressive. It will be interesting to see if he can develop more versatility in his running style in his next (and possibly final) Kentucky Derby prep, which may come in either the Los Alamitos Derby on July 4 or the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar on Aug. 1. Read more about Honor A. P.’s rise in Mike Curry’s latest Making the Grade profile.

Authentic saw his Derby future odds rise slightly from 5-1 on May 5 to the current 6-1. He broke slowly and ducked out from his outside post in the Santa Anita Derby, setting up a less than desirable trip, but Authentic was still a clear second over Rushie (who is listed at 85-1 odds by William Hill). Trainer Bob Baffert told Daily Racing Form’s Jay Privman that the July 18 TVG.com Haskell Invitational Stakes at Monmouth Park was being considered for Authentic’s next start, a race that Baffert has dominated over the past 20 years that’s on a main track which often favors front-running horses like Authentic.

Two weeks earlier on May 23, Maxfield made a stellar return to the track after a 7 ½-month absence, taking the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. He had remained in the top tier of Kentucky Derby future-book contenders over the winter and spring while recovering from injury and saw his odds drop from 12-1 on May 5 to 7-1 after the Matt Winn. UPDATE: Unfortunately, as reported by Daily Racing Form’s Marty McGee, Maxfield suffered a condylar fracture of his right front cannon bone during a workout on Wednesday, June 10, and will undergo surgery. Trainer Brendan Walsh told McGee that Maxfield is expected to make a full recovery.

Ny Traffic and Pneumatic, runner-up and third in the Matt Winn respectively, both gave good efforts and are sitting at odds of 60-1 and 75-1 in William Hill’s latest sheet. Pneumatic in particular is an intriguing choice at his current odds. The Winchell Thoroughbreds homebred, profiled in this blog last month, has only made three career starts and has a good stamina pedigree.

Three to Watch:

Cezanne: As if by design, right after a pair of Bob Baffert-trained phenoms dropped off the Kentucky Derby trail, another one emerged. This son of Hall of Famer Curlin had been on the Thoroughbred industry’s radar since making a huge splash in spring 2019 at the Fasig-Tipton Gulfstream sale of selected 2-year-olds in training, when he sold for $3.65 million to Coolmore interests (the highest price for a 2-year-old horse sold in North America since The Green Monkey went for an astounding $16 million in 2006). Living up to his rep, he won his debut on June 6 at Santa Anita Park in workmanlike fashion that upon a few days’ reflection was a more impressive effort than it first appeared. What struck me most was how well Cezanne ran while bunched in between two other horses through the turn of the six-furlong race, and how patient he was while sitting just off the pace before moving out of that group in early stretch and forging ahead to a 2 ¼-length victory that earned a 101 Equibase Speed Figure.

All that said, Cezanne’s current odds of 20-1 on William Hill’s sheet are an underlay and he’ll have to improve a lot in his next starts (ideally two of them) before the Kentucky Derby to match up against horses such as Tiz the Law and Honor A. P. This colt has the physique of a mile-and-a-quarter horse, though, and the pedigree to match. Curlin, of course, excelled at classic distances, winning the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup twice, and the Breeders’ Cup Classic – and Cezanne is from a female family highlighted by third dam (maternal great-grandmother) Better Than Honour, a Broodmare of the Year 13 years ago who produced Belmont Stakes winners Rags to Riches and Jazil, along with two other route stakes winners.

Collusion Illusion: This son of Twirling Candy turned heads last summer with two wins to start out his career at Del Mar – including the Best Pal Stakes – but was pulled up in the Sept. 27 American Pharoah Stakes and given a lengthy break by trainer Mark Glatt due to an unspecified ailment. He resurfaced at Santa Anita on May 17 in a six-furlong allowance and picked right back up with a professional three-length score, good for a 106 Equibase Speed Figure. He has a stalking/closing style that fits well for the Kentucky Derby and a pedigree on his dam’s (mother’s) side that includes several graded stakes winners, although most of them are sprinters-milers. It will be interesting to see where his connections place Collusion Illusion next and if they target the Kentucky Derby. He’s offered at enticing 150-1 odds by William Hill.

Tap It to Win: This Tapit ridgling is not currently offered on William Hill’s Kentucky Derby futures sheet, but he should be listed soon. He’s targeting the June 20 Belmont Stakes and shapes up as an interesting longshot, especially considering that the former “Test of the Champion” is a one-turn, 1 1/8-mile race this year. Tap It to Win first turned heads last summer at Saratoga when he won his career second start by 3 ½ lengths going six furlongs. Elevated to stakes company for his final two starts as a juvenile, he disappointed to say the least, running 10th in both races while defeated by a combined 63 ¾ lengths. Those sorts of efforts will make a horse disappear completely from the Kentucky Derby radar, and that’s what happened over the winter, but this Mark Casse trainee has built up some momentum in his 3-year-old season with two quality wins. Most recently, he took a one-turn, 1 1/16-mile allowance at Belmont Park by five lengths, earning a flashy 108 Equibase Speed Figure. A Live Oak Plantation homebred, Tap It to Win has a nice pedigree that includes close relatives who won graded stakes at 1 1/8 miles and 1 1/16 miles. Second dam (maternal grandmother), Beaties for Real, produced four stakes winners and is a half-sister (same dam [mother], different sire) to Grade 2 winner Ivanavinalot, the dam of two-time champion Songbird. Tap It to Win should be a major pace factor in this unique Belmont Stakes if nothing more, and has the long-term look of a prime contender in the Preakness Stakes, which closes out the 2020 Triple Crown on Oct. 3.

Watch the 2020 Belmont Stakes on Saturday, June 20 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on NBC, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. 

Kentucky Derby futures: Revisiting Vegas odds on extended timeline

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The road to the 2020 Kentucky Derby Presented by Woodford Reserve has, due to a global public health crisis, stretched out another four months and widened considerably. With the Derby rescheduled to Sept. 5 at Churchill Downs, the pool of potential contenders to make the 20-horse starting gate now welcomes late-developing types to join the select few that have already won major preps and earned qualifying points.

The bookmakers at William Hill continue to take fixed-odds future wagers on Derby 146, and as in years past in this blog we’ll take a periodic look at William Hill’s future-book odds and profile some of the contenders. In addition to the Vegas odds, Churchill Downs is holding their fourth Future Wager pool from April 3-5.

The pool opens with “All Others” favored at 5-2 odds, while Nadal and Tiz the Law lead the 23 individual horses at 6-1 opening odds. Churchill’s Derby Future Wager runs from noon April 3 through 6 p.m. ET on April 5.

As reported by Marty McGee in Daily Racing Form, Churchill Downs officials told the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission that the company would probably offer two more Future Wager pools in July and August leading up to the rescheduled Derby on Sept. 5.

March 29 William Hill Odds Leaders to Win the 2020 Kentucky Derby:

1) Tiz the Law (7-2)

2) Authentic (9-2)

3) Charlatan (7-1)

4) Nadal (8-1)

5) Maxfield (9-1)

6) Honor A. P. (10-1)

6) Sole Volante (10-1)

Notable Changes: 

Tiz the Law, already the Kentucky Derby favorite in most future books for several weeks prior to his commanding win in last Saturday’s Curlin Florida Derby, saw his odds drop from 5-1 to 7-2 in William Hill’s March 29 sheet. If the run for the roses was held as originally scheduled on May 2, those odds would be acceptable and probably close to what he’d go off at when the gates opened. With the Derby bumped back to late summer, however, they’re dicey to say the least. That’s disappointing to contemplate, because Barclay Tagg and Sackatoga Stable could not have done a better job preparing Tiz the Law for the first Saturday in May and plotting his prep schedule. Tagg told the media that an ambitious summer campaign of Preakness Stakes-Belmont Stakes-Travers Stakes would be an ideal path to the Sept. 5 Derby, but it’s an open question at this point whether any – or all – of those races will go off as scheduled. No matter what, Tiz the Law has the look of a colt who will only get better as he matures and gains racing experience, and it will be exciting to watch him do so in the coming months.

Florida Derby runner-up Shivaree debuts on William Hill’s sheet at 100-1 odds despite picking up 40 qualifying Kentucky Derby points with his game effort. Trainer Ralph Nicks admitted after the Florida Derby that his connections were not sure if the Florida-bred Awesome of Course colt could get the Florida Derby’s 1 1/8-mile distance, and visually it was evident in deep stretch that jockey Emisael Jaramillo was all out in urging his mount to hold on for second, which he did. It seems a more likely scenario at this point to see Shivaree win a race on Gulfstream Park’s Summit of Speed card this September, or travel in late summer to compete in the H. Allan Jerkens Stakes at Saratoga, than it does to see him starting in the Kentucky Derby.

Wells Bayou, impressive winner of the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby on March 21, saw his odds drop from 125-1 to 20-1 on William Hill’s March 29 sheet. He shapes up as a major player in the May 2 Arkansas Derby if his connections stick with that plan, since he’s already proven to have an affinity for Oaklawn Park’s track with an allowance win and a good second to Silver Prospector in the Southwest Stakes.

Todd Pletcher-trained Money Moves dropped from 125-1 to 60-1 odds on William Hill’s latest sheet after an eye-catching 2 ¾-length score in a competitive allowance-optional claiming race going a one-turn mile at Gulfstream Park on March 28. He improved to 2-for-2 in his young career after winning a six-furlong Gulfstream maiden in the slop by 1 ¼ lengths Feb. 15 (boosting his Equibase Speed Figure from 87 to 96) and should have no problem taking the next step and trying two turns.

Money Moves is a son of good stamina sire Candy Ride, and while his dam, by Kentucky Derby runner-up Proud Citizen, was a pure sprinter who earned over $300,000 and won three stakes races, he has more heft deeper in the bloodline. He is from the family of Grade 1 Donn Handicap winner Hymn Book, champion 2-year-old filly and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Caledonia Road, and Grade 1-winnng turf miler Data Link (recent Gotham Stakes third-place finisher Attachment Rate is also a relative). Gulfstream Park and Tampa Bay Downs are still racing as of April 2, but stakes options in the coming weeks are scarce. Nevertheless, there’s suddenly a lot more time for this colt, who was a $975,000 purchase as a juvenile, to develop.

Two to watch:

The four-month delay of the Kentucky Derby to Sept. 5 has given future-book players a chance to re-calibrate their bearings and take a second look at 3-year-olds who may have not accomplished much as of early April but have shown enough potential to warrant longshot consideration for the “First Saturday in September.” Here’s a couple that stand out at triple-digit odds via William Hill:

Mystic Guide: This Godolphin homebred debuts on William Hill’s latest sheet at 100-1 odds, and get ’em while you can. He looked the part of a graded stakes-winning racehorse in only his second career start on the March 21 Louisiana Derby undercard at Fair Grounds, sitting a stalking trip in the 1 1/16-mile race and effortlessly pulling clear to a five-length win that earned a 99 Equibase Speed Figure. This son of Hall of Famer Ghostzapper stretched out after finishing third in a six-furlong maiden on Feb. 14 and should relish even more real estate based on his pedigree. Mystic Guide’s dam, Music Note, by A.P. Indy, was one of the best fillies racing from 2007-’09, winning seven of 12 starts, including four Grade 1s, and earning more than $1.6 million while finishing second by a head in the 1 ¼-mile Alabama Stakes in 2008 and third in the Breeders’ Cup Ladies’ Classic (now Distaff) in both 2008 and 2009. It will be interesting to see where Mystic Guide surfaces next given the dwindling number of tracks operating. As trainer Michael Stidham told Horse Racing Nation, “We thought we’d have no chance to make May 2. Obviously things have changed. “

Roman Empire: Another Todd Pletcher trainee, Roman Empire sits at 150-1 after romping by 8 ¾ lengths in a one-turn-mile maiden special weight race at Gulfstream Park Feb. 28, his second career start and first on dirt. He basically paired his Equibase Speed Figures when making the switch (88 in his third-place debut, 86 in his win) and that number range will obviously need to improve, but there’s plenty of time for that. This colt is by Belmont winner Empire Maker and his female family includes top-class stamina horses Eddington (a millionaire who hit the board in the Preakness Stakes and Travers Stakes) and European Group 1 winner Miserden.

Pletcher is renowned for gearing up his 3-year-olds each spring with the first Saturday in May in mind (recall how horses such as Super Saver in 2010 and Always Dreaming in 2017 peaked like clockwork in the Kentucky Derby), but this year is obviously different. Roman Empire, like Money Moves, will be one to keep close tabs on while taking a fresh look at this crop of 3-year-olds during an elongated Triple Crown season.