150th KENTUCKY DERBY: Kentucky Derby Top Ten (Final)

150th KENTUCKY DERBY: Kentucky Derby Top Ten (Final)

The field is just about set for the $5 million Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on May 4. This is the closing usracing.com Derby Top 10.

And here we are, the closing edition of the usracing.com Derby Top 10 after final major Kentucky Derby preps in California, Kentucky, and New York.

Our Top 10 underwent a big shakeup following the results, which saw no less than five new 3-year-olds go from out of contention into the Derby field limited to 20 starters based on qualifying points.

Although Sierra Leone put in a fantastic effort to win the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keenelend on April 6, it was not enough in our view to overtake record-setting Florida Derby (G1) Fierceness at No. 1.

As was the case last year with Forte, two-time Derby winner Todd Pletcher will send out Fierceness as the likely favorite. Forte, also a Florida Derby winner, was the Derby favorite before being scratched hours before the race with an ankle issue.

KENTUCKY DERBY: Fierceness is No. 1 in Final Derby Top 10

Fierceness, the 2-year-old champion after winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) in November, will be ridden by Hall of Famer John Velazquez.

Sierra Leone, purchased for $2.3 million, is an easy choice at No. 2 after his dramatic rally from ninth to first in the Blue Grass.

New to the Top 10 after strong races on April 6 are No. 5 Stronghold (Santa Anita Derby winner), No. 7 Just a Touch (second in the Blue Grass), and No. 9 Resilience (Wood Memorial winner). Epic Ride, third in the Blue Grass and Uncle Heavy, fifth in the Wood, did not crack the Top 10 but moved closer to making the field pending potential withdrawals in the next few weeks.

On Saturday, the Lexington Stakes (G3) at Keeneland closes out the prep season with qualifying points of 20-10-6-4-2. Hades, who has 30 points, could make the Derby with a win.

The Derby is May 4.

Kentucky Derby Contenders Top 10

1. Fierceness (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez)

Velazquez may have piloted Resilience to a Wood win, but he’s clearly sticking with this guy as he seeks his fourth Derby victory … 13 ½-length Florida Derby win was best prep run of ‘em all … Travel plans to Louisville not yet set.

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 2 on Derby points leaderboard (136)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 5-2 (pool 6)

2. Sierra Leone (Chad Brown, Tyler Gaffalione)

Super impressive Blue Grass win to move to the head of the leaderboard … Two topnotch preps will make this closer a tough customer as Brown seeks first Derby win …

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 1 on Derby points leaderboard (155)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 7-1.

3. Catching Freedom (Brad Cox, Flavien Prat)

Albaugh Family Stable’s Louisiana Derby winner worked 4 furlongs in 48.40 on April 5 at Churchill Downs with exercise rider Edvin Vargas aboard … Cox: “I think the longer stretch at Churchill plus the mile-and-a-quarter should only help him in the Derby.” … Won Smarty Jones, ran third in Risen Star, and closed from nearly nine lengths out to beat Honor Marie by a length in Louisiana Derby …

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 3 on Derby points leaderboard (125)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 12-1.

4. Forever Young (Yoshito Yahagi, Ryusei Sakai)

Easy UAE Derby winner (100 qualifying points), may give Japan its first Derby winner … Not many unbeatens run in the Derby, but this guy is 5-for-5 … Travel could be issue, but colt looks like a top contender …  Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 6 on Derby points leaderboard (100)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 8-1

5. Stronghold (Phil D’Amato, Antonio Fresu)

Clutch performance in Santa Anita Derby by son of Ghostzapper to punch first Derby ticket for D’Amato and Fresu … Topped Imagination by a neck in stretch-long duel at Santa Anita to improve to 6-3-3-0 … Edged Resilience in first career win at Churchill Downs on Oct. 1.

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 4 on Derby points (125)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 30-1

6. Dornoch (Danny Gargan, Luis Saez)

Didn’t run big in Blue Grass (fourth), but Derby spot already clinched … Gargan doesn’t seem concerned about this full brother of ‘23 Derby winner Mage …

Next start:  Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 8 on Derby points leaderboard (75)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 12-1.

7. Resilience (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado)

 From fourth in Risen Star to Wood winner and now on to Louisville …   Wore blinkers for first time in Wood … John Velazquez (sticking with Fierceness) was aboard, but Mott’s go-to rider Alvarado likely replacement … Mott’s Derby win came with Country House in 2021 after first-place finisher Maximum Security was DQ’d for interference in the stretch … 6-2-1-1 record for son of Into Mischief …

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 5 on Derby points leaderboard (110)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 76-1.

8. Just a Touch (Brad Cox, Flavien Prat)

Came through with runner-up finish can gives Cox a second Derby contender … Also ran second in Gotham after winning in debut at Fair Grounds in January … Son of 2018 Triple Crown winner Justify purchased for $300,000 …

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 9 on Derby points leaderboard (75)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 22-1

9. Just Steel (D. Wayne Lukas, Keith Asmussen)

Wayne Lukas headed back for yet another Derby, which would be his 50th starter (he’s won the Derby four times) … Like Just a Touch, colt is a son of Justify … Has three seconds in last four starts (Smarty Jones, Southwest Stakes, Arkansas Derby) …

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 12 on Derby points leaderboard (65)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 30-1.

10. West Saratoga (Larry Demeritte, Jesus Castanon)

Still our Derby longshot … Won Iroquois, runner-up in Jeff Ruby Steaks (all-weather) … Experienced with 10 starts and a 2-5-1 record … Love the $11,000 purchase price by Harry Veruchi at Keeneland yearling sale … Worked 3 furlongs in 36.40 at The Thoroughbred Center on April 6.

Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 4.

Kentucky Derby Leader Board Position: No. 11 on Derby points leaderboard (67)

Kentucky Derby Future Odds: Derby future wager odds: 121-1.

Three to watch: Endlessly, Honor Marie, Track Phantom

Note: With trainer Bob Baffert banned by Churchill Downs Inc., none of his 3-year-olds can earn Kentucky Derby qualifying points, thus none are in our Derby Top 10. They include Imagination, Maymun, and Muth.

 

 

 

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