Horses 11-15 in the list of horses for the Kentucky Derby points leaderboard has a group of contenders, but also one or two likely pretenders come Derby day.
Tawny Port – Moving up to 11th in the standings with 60 points, Tawny Port continues to improve for trainer Brad Cox. He started his career with back to back scores over the poly at Turfway before heading South for the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February. A bit of a troubled trip was costly as he was only able to split the field of ten while racing wide in the lane. He had done enough to earn his way into the starting gate for the Derby with a second-place performance in the Jeff Ruby Steaks on April 2. Cox apparently felt a dirt trip would be beneficial as Tawny Port returned two weeks later to run on to a victory in the Lexington at Keeneland, assuring his spot in the top 20. With his closing style everything will have to work out perfectly to win the Derby, but he should be sweeping by horses in the lane.
Barber Road – This is one of those horses that will be completely dismissed by bettors in the Derby but could be good enough to sneak into the gimmicks. He hasn’t won any of the prep races but has earned 50 points to move into 12th on the leaderboard. After finishing fourth in his debut last summer, Barber road has never been worse than third in seven following starts. He closed a bit too late in the Rebel and missed by a half length and then ran on late in the Arkansas Derby. Much like Tawny Port, his running style may require a perfect trip to win the Derby.
Un Ojo – “The Eye” is a great name for this one eyed horse as he will be one of the longest prices in the Derby. Because of his backstory the casual bettor may overbet him but he should be a 99-1 shot in the race. Crazy to say for a horse with $780k in lifetime earnings but the bulk of that came in a weirdly run, huge purse Rebel Stakes where he got the perfect trip and caught a field that has proven not to be great. In the Arkansas Derby it was a different story for Un Ojo as he tried the rail route again but this time things didn’t open up. It would be an incredible story if he won the Derby but would also take an incredible race with a lot of luck to even be a factor.
Early Voting – You have to get all the way to horse number 14 in the points leaderboard to find the first committed front runner in this year’s Derby. With 50 points, Early Voting has made just three starts but has posted improved speed figures in each. He opened the year with an easy wire to wire win, defeating Un Ojo by 4 1/2 lengths in the Withers. He returned in the Wood Memorial and was all heart, battling to the wire, only to be caught by Mo Donegal on the wire. If he draws well in this Derby and the other speed in the race is buried to the inside or outside, he could very easily steal the Derby at a big price.
Morello – The disappointing Wood Memorial favorite was Morello as he also has 50 points heading into Kentucky. After three races Morello looked to be the real deal, winning all three with ease while pressing the pace in each. The victory at one mile in the Gotham seemed to show that the added distance wouldn’t be an issue heading into the Wood. Going two-turns in the Wood, everything went wrong as he hit the gate at the break, was off slowly, raced wide and was never a factor. One thing he has going for him is a tremendous trainer in Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen but the most recent race will leave questions with many heading into the Derby.
We are just two weeks away from Kentucky Derby day and Hawthorne Race Course and the Club Hawthorne OTBs are filling up quickly. Make sure to get your reservations now to guarantee your seat on May 7.