The Derby Bubble Watch Is On

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After last weekends unexpected finishes, separating contenders vs pretenders has become quite the chore.  To mix things up even more, lets take a minute to look at the horses on the bubble.  Dating back to 1975 there has been a maximum of 20 horses allowed to Run for the Roses each year.  The process for who qualifies is quite simple:  Graded Stakes Earnings, the more you earn, the higher your rank.  With only three Graded Stakes Derby Preps remaining and two this weekend, it’s officially crunch time.

Last 5 In: Stay Thirsty, Jaycito, Santiva, Watch Me Go, Shackleford. 

Each of these colts are currently sitting at over $200,000 but only 2 have another race left to move up.  Santiva is listed as probable for the Bluegrass Stakes and Jaycito is pointing towards the Coolmore Lexington Stakes next weekend.  I expect both of these talented horses to finish 1st, 2nd, or 3rd, earn enough to pad their earnings and race in the Kentucky Derby.  As we witnessed last weekend though, any horse can leap into the top ten with a single win so that leaves the other three in a very vulnerable position. 

The Next 5 In.  Knocking on the door outside the top 20 are some quality horses that may just knock the door the down this weekend.  Most notably are a few that can easily earn their way back in.  I see these eight colt’s as the biggest threat to the last five in.

#21 Nehro, $200,000 – Ark Derby         #25 Archarcharch, $180,000 – Ark Derby               #26 Brethren $155,000 – Ark Derby      #29 Wilcox Inn $139,000 – Bluegrass                  #40 Caleb’s Posse $71,504 – Ark Derby  #42 Wilkinson $70,000 – Bluegrass                      #43 Elite Alex $65,000 – Ark Derby       #44 Sway Away $61,500 – Ark Derby       

In last weekend’s Illinois Derby, Watch Me Go had a sure-fire opportunity to qualify with a win or improve considerably with a 2nd or 3rd place finish.  However, after finishing 6th the colt added only the race minimum, $3,000.  With upsets in the other two races both Toby’s Corner and Midnight Interlude came away with a ranking inside the top ten.  So, Watch Me Go has been pushed back to #19 and to the brink of his bubble bursting.  But……..there is one other element that may save the Derby Dreams for the colt and his connections.

Will they run?  There are 4 horses ranked inside the top 14 that may choose not to run in this years Kentucky Derby.  If so, the derby Gods will open the door for some new faces to enter the starting gate and let bubble horses breathe easy. 

Listed as Possible, Astrology might run in this weekend’s Arkansas Derby but the word on the backside is that the colt won’t race again until The Cliff’s Edge Derby Trial Stakes or Jerome Handicap on 4/30.  If the Steve Asumussen trained colt skips the Arkansas Derby and waits to race on the weekend before the KYD, then all signs point to him making his first Triple Crown Appearance at the Preakness Stakes.  It’s been a tough road for the colt in 2011, as a 2nd place finish in the Sunland Derby is his only race this year.  Battling illness for a month this winter, the colt lost a lot of time and it ended up behind schedule. 

Where and when will Comma to the Top race again?  Prior to the Santa Anita Derby the owners and trainer Peter Miller were all convinced that the horse was a sprinter and stood little chance of challenging at a mile and a quarter.  But then came his gutsiest performance yet, a 2nd place finish at a 1 1/8 Mile.  Although he was drifting down the stretch a bit, the question does he belong or can he compete has got to be weighing on their minds. 

No news on Master of Hounds, 2nd place finisher in the 2011 UAE Derby.  Based in Ireland and trained by Aidan O’Brien, the possibility of crossing the pond for the trip of a lifetime ending at Churchill Downs still remains.  The final horse still undecided is Animal Kingdom, winner of the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park.  In his career he’s never raced on dirt so his connections are aiming to work him over the surface at least twice before they feel comfortable deciding on whether he can handle the transition or not.

The Kentucky Derby is a once in a lifetime opportunity so the connections of these last 3 horses have some thinking to do.  The Bubble Watch is on.  Stay tuned as we’ll keep you posted on who looks to be entering the starting gate for the 137th running of the Kentucky Derby and who’s bubble will be bursting.  

Written by: Little Brink

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