By Dick Downey
Updated 2:17 p.m. ET
We’re at the top of the stretch now, and every Kentucky Derby prep race gains heightened importance. Here’s a survey of about 80 contenders and pretenders on the Derby Trail and where they’re going next.
The Kentucky Derby picked up two new probable starters last weekend that weren't high on any lists I had seen. Mylute, trained by Tom Amoss, finished second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby and now has 42 Kentucky Derby qualifying points. I think that gets him in. Lines of Battle from the barn of Aiden O'Brien picked up 100 qualifying points by winning the Group 2 UAE Derby.
Let's count the rest of the horses that look to already have the points they need to make the Derby -- and take a look at their destinations.
Grade III Spiral winner Black Onyx, trained by Kelly Breen, has 50 points and is already in residence at Churchill Downs for the race on May 4.
Govenor Charlie, the Bob Baffert trainee who blitzed his way to victory in the Grade III Sunland Derby, has 50 points. He won't start next until the Kentucky Derby, either, and Baffert has given him the green light.
Jerry Hollendorfer's Hear the Ghost, winner of the Grade II San Felipe Stakes, also has 50 points and will run in Saturday's Grade I Santa Anita Derby.
Itsmyluckyday, the Grade I Florida Derby runner-up trained by Eddie Plesa, Jr., had 10 points going into that race and exited it with 50. The Kentucky Derby is next.
Orb, the colt that's taking Shug McGaughey down the Derby Road by winning the Grade II Fountain of Youth and the Florida Derby, leads the whole pack with 150 points. A legion of fans in Kentucky hope he is taken there soon from his base at Payson Park, but he'll probably remain there for at least the next couple of weeks.
Revolutionary, the stretch-running winner of the Grade II Louisiana Derby trained by Todd Pletcher, has 110 points and will stay at WinStar Farm pending his departure for Churchill Downs, which should be very soon.
Pletcher’s Verrazano, winner of the Grade III Tampa Bay Derby, has 50 points and is going in the Grade I Wood Memorial next. From there, we hope he’s in Kentucky by no later than April 15.
Grade III Gotham winner Vyjack, who will be trained again by Rudy Rodriguez when he comes off suspension in a couple of days, is in New York waiting for the Grade I Wood Memorial. He has 50 points.
And last in this portion of the survey, alphabetically, is Will Take Charge, the 60-point D. Wayne Lukas trainee who ran down stable mate Oxbow to win the Grade II Rebel Stakes. He’s at Oaklawn Park awaiting a decision on whether he’ll run in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass or train up to the Kentucky Derby.
With 11 Derby contenders mentioned, that’s over half the field already. At this point, the big-name trainer/Derby legend score is Pletcher two, Lukas one and Bob Baffert one -- but all three have some big guns about to go in some big races.
Speaking of Lukas and Oxbow, the colt has 36 points and will go next in the Grade I Arkansas Derby on April 13.
Mark Casse's Uncaptured has 30 points and is pointed to synthetic track again, this time in the Grade I Toyota Blue Grass after running second in the Spiral.
Baffert's Flashback, with 30 points, will go next in the Santa Anita Derby as the morning line favorite, and he’ll once again face Doug O'Neill's Goldencents, who has 29 points.
Next on the points list is Shanghai Bobby with 24 after running fifth in the Florida Derby. All along, his connections said they weren't concerned about points but instead wanted to know if he is good enough to go a distance. If so, he would run well enough in the Florida Derby to make the Kentucky Derby. That's behind us now, Shanghai Bobby is off the Derby Trail, and he’ll get a well-deserved rest.
Down in the low 20s, we have seven horses, three of them on the Derby Trail, one not on the Trail, two seemingly going in the wrong direction, and one whose plans aren't known here.
Java's War has 22 points and will make his bid for the Kentucky Derby starting gate in the Blue Grass for Ken McPeek.
Den's Legacy has 20 points and will make his run for more points in the Arkansas Derby for Baffert.
Falling Sky has 20 points and is being considered for either the Arkansas Derby or Blue Grass by John Terranova II.
Merit Man ran a credible third in the Florida Derby, has acknowledged distance limitations and isn't being pointed to the Kentucky Derby. The Peter Pan, Preakness or Woody Stephens are being considered by trainer Bob Hess. He has 20 points.
Code West has 20 points, too, but maybe Baffert will point him in a different direction after his sixth-place finish in the Louisiana Derby.
Departing ran a good third in the Louisiana Derby for Al Stall, Jr., picking up 20 points in the process. His plans aren't known here, but it’s not hard to imagine him trying the Preakness.
West Hills Giant had a respiratory infection causing him to miss a work this past weekend, and he will not be in the Wood Memorial as planned. All one can do is wait and see when he gets back on the worktab for Terranova. He also has 20 points.
More to Watch
Charming Kitten has now worked twice since running second in the Grade III Palm Beach. He and Pletcher will make an all-or-nothing shot at the Kentucky Derby in the Blue Grass -- along with many others.
Rydilluc is one those others. Gary Contessa breezed the colt seven furlongs on the turf on March 23, his second move since winning the Palm Beach on March 3, but the colt didn't work this past weekend.
Various press offices have had Dale Romans' Dewey Square going just about everywhere in the country. Since he ran on turf last time out, and since Keeneland listed him on Monday as probable for the Blue Grass, we'll go with that. He has 2 points.
Casse's Dynamic Sky remains on course for the Blue Grass. He has 13 points.
Elnaawi, with 10 points, remains on track for the Wood Memorial. He had a tough trip in the Gotham, and Kiaran McLaughlin hopes for clearer sailing on Saturday.
Fear the Kitten, with 6 points, had traffic trouble while saving ground under Rosie Napravnik in the Spiral. Last week, we said it wouldn’t be surprising to see him in the Blue Grass, and now he's listed as probable for the race. Maker trains.
Dallas Stewart's Golden Soul made a sustained run to finish fourth in the Louisiana Derby. Back on Jan. 18, Stewart said, "I think he’s going to be kind of a ‘longer the better’ type of horse.'" Will the Belmont Stakes be on his calendar? He has 14 Derby points.
Can a winner of the Private Terms also win the Wood? Bill Mott will find out with Mr Palmer, who's put in three breezes at Belmont Park since that March 9 victory. Mr Palmer seeks his first Derby points.
Noble Tune, Chad Brown's late-running turf allowance winner at Tampa on March 9, is confirmed for the Blue Grass and has no Derby points.
Brown's Normandy Invasion, bullets blazing in recent weeks, will try to redeem his tough-trip fifth in the Risen Star while returning to Aqueduct's main track for the Wood Memorial.
Overanalyze, off the board in the Gotham in his first start of the year, remains on track for Pletcher in the Arkansas Derby. He has 10 points.
Pletcher also has Palace Malice, who had a blocked trip in the Louisiana Derby and couldn't improve on his 10 points. As of this writing, he was being considered for the Blue Grass.
Baffert’s Power Broker is going in the Santa Anita Derby for his first start of the year. He got 10 points last year winning the Grade I FrontRunner, formerly the Norfolk. He reportedly recently outworked Liasion, who won the Santana Mile on Sunday.
Kathleen O’Connell's Reporting Star is listed probable for the Blue Grass by Keeneland but has also been entered in Saturday's Calder Derby. He finished third in the Palm Beach.
Still no word yet on Baffert's plans for Shakin It Up, fourth after trying to close on the speedy track in the Sunland Derby. He got 5 points for that effort.
Last week, the Blue Grass was the stated goal for Speak Logistics, but he wasn't on the worktab again this past weekend -- this has been on again-off again for Plesa -- and isn't on Keeneland's list of probables. He has 11 points. Late last week, Plesa said he entered Speak Logistics in the Calder Derby, but that he wouldn't run. Yesterday he reversed course and confirmed Speak Logistics for the Calder Derby. Others entered in Saturday's race are Sky Captain, Michael With Us, Elmutahid, Reporting Star, Sr. Quisquayano, Offlee Fast, and Joshua’s Comprise.
Sunbean probably had the roughest trip in the Louisiana Derby. His running line includes this nugget: "steadied while blocked at the quarter-pole, continued blocked in upper stretch, steadied again nearing the furlong marker...." Stall now has to decide what’s next for the eighth-place finisher.
Baffert will try to regroup with Super Ninety Nine in the Santa Anita Derby after a no-points finish in the Rebel. He picked up 10 winning the Grade III Southwest.
Danele Durham's Texas Bling is pointed to the Arkansas Derby after finishing fourth in the Rebel.
Santa Anita says Tiz a Minister is probable for the Santa Anita Derby. Tiz a Minister has 10 points and is trained by Paul Aguirre. Joe Talamo would ride this Saturday, but if Tiz a Minister isn’t entered on Wednesday, that’s a signal for the Blue Grass.
It's not clear where Treasury Bill will go next for Ron Ellis, but he put in a workout on Sunday and is presumably headed somewhere out of town. He has no Derby points.
The Arkansas Derby was put on War Academy's agenda before last week's Where They're Going Next, but Keeneland said Monday that we could have a rare appearance there by Baffert, who would bring this colt. War Academy, who was put in Pool 3 of the Derby Future Wager off an impressive allowance win, is another one who lacks points.
Will Abraham’s connections map out a path the Preakness? This colt has talent and will gain more maturity in time. He has 10 Derby points. Co-owner WinStar Farm has Revolutionary.
Abstraction, impressive March 13 maiden winner at Fair Grounds, is not on the Derby Trail. David Carroll said the Preakness is a "possibility but not a probability." The Belmont stakes is a goal.
Always in a Tiz to Saturday's Wood Memorial for Dominick Schettino. He has no points and was fifth in the Grade III Southwest last out.
Chris Block's Bambazonki was reported as probable for the Blue Grass in our last Where They're Going, but he wasn't on the list released by Keeneland on Monday.
Carves's next target is either the Arkansas Derby or the same day’s Northern Spur for Steve Asmussen.
Clearly Now, the Grade III Swale winner, will be kept short by Brian Lynch in Saturday's Grade III Bay Shores Stakes.
Undrafted, a closing third in the Swale for Mike Maker, was late-nominated to the Triple Crown, and breezed five furlongs in 1:01.00 (2/20) at Keeneland on Friday, his first move since that race. The Blue Grass is in his sights, Keeneland says.
We won't see Rushaway winner Crop Report in the Kentucky Derby, but the Belmont Stakes, with a prelude in the Grade II Peter Pan, has been put on his agenda if all goes well. Graham Motion trains.
As of Monday, Bob Baffert's Curly Top hadn't put in a recorded workout since March 18.
Nick Zito's Declan's Warrior is working right along. On March 9, Zito said, “I’m excited about him. Not as a potential Derby horse, but maybe a horse that could come around a little later like Bernardini did and take those big steps up each time."
Demonic had to bypass the San Felipe and the Sunland Derby, and he's not probable for the Santa Anita Derby, either. He worked again last weekend, and now may be a go in the Arkansas Derby or possibly the Blue Grass for John Sadler.
Myung Kwon Cho's Dirty Swagg, fifth in the Grade III Sham last time out, to the Santa Anita Derby.
Darrin Miller's Divine Ambition is still set for the Coolmore Lexington Stakes on April 20 as far as we know, but it wasn't set in stone at last report.
Schettino has said that Escapefromreality would go next in the Times Square division of the New York Stallion Series on May 5.
Zito's Eton Blue said to be possible for the Blue Grass.
Eion Harty's Footbridge is still listed as probable for the Blue Grass.
Frac Daddy, with 4 points after failing to get more in the Florida Derby, may be in the Grade III Illinois Derby next for McPeek.
Tom Albertrani's maiden winner Freedom Child is still set for the Wood Memorial.
Tony Dutrow’s Giant Finish was late-nominated to the Triple Crown after running third in the Spiral, getting him 10 points, and the Blue Grass was said to be the next target. But he's not on Keeneland's probables list. Maybe the Grade III Coolmore Lexington?
Rick Violette's allowance winner Go Get the Basil to the Wood Memorial.
Mike Stidham's Ground Transport, fifth in the Louisiana Derby, will be pointed to races this Summer.
Casse's Gunderman looked like a next-start in the Illinois Derby, which carries no Derby points, but through Monday he hadn’t put in a recorded workout since winning a Gulfstream allowance on March 2.
Ron Moquett's Heaven's Runway to the Arkansas Derby.
Honorable Dillon, seventh in the Tampa Bay Derby last out, to the Bay Shore for Eddie Kenneally.
Kiaran McLaughlin's maiden winner Incognito to the Illinois Derby at last report.
Carl Nafzger's Looking Cool is not on the Derby Trail, but let's see whether he could be considered for the Preakness. He defeated the well-regarded River Rocks in a March 17 allowance at Gulfstream and breezed 10 days later.
Maleeh, winner of Aqueduct’s Fred “Cappy” Capossela, to the Bay Shore for McLaughlin.
Pletcher's Micromanage continued breezing toward something on Sunday, but if he's going to make the Belmont Stakes as originally conceived, he needs a race pretty soon. The Peter Pan?
O'Neill's Mudflats said to be possible for the Blue Grass. He was up the track in the Sunland Derby.
Albertrani's Quinzieme Monarque listed as probable for the Wood Memorial. He was fourth in the Palm Beach.
Bruce Headley's maiden winner Storm Fighter to the Santa Anita Derby.
McPeek's Taken by the Storm, fourth in the Spiral, is being pointed to the Coolmore Lexington on April 20.
Josie Carroll's Tesseron said to be probable for the Blue Grass. He was last seen fourth in a Gulfstream Park allowance.
Up with the Birds -- not nominated to the Triple Crown and pointed to the Canadian Classics -- had been mentioned for the Blue Grass, but he wasn't on Monday's list from Keeneland.
Pletcher’s impressive maiden winner Zaikov, who won by 14 1/4 lengths going six furlongs on March 15 -- without being asked -- will need to breeze soon. Who knows, maybe we’ll see him the Grade III Derby Trial?
Caveat: This list is not intended to cover all Triple Crown nominees.
For a complete Derby points chart with details, please click here.