The Brock Talk

Friday, February 17, 2012

Kentucky Derby Bubble At $120,000

This week Churchill Downs released the current rankings of 3-year-olds by graded earnings, which determines which horses may enter the $2 million Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. 1) to be run May 5.

No surprise that last year’s Champion 2-Year-Old Male Hansen sits atop the list with $1,160,000, of which $1,080,000 was earned when he captured the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. 1) at Churchill Downs last November. In his first start of 2012 Hansen was second to Algorithms in the Holy Bull Stakes (gr. 3) at Gulfstream Park Jan. 29.

Second to Hansen in both the Juvenile and on the graded earnings list is Union Rags with $830,000 of which $360,000 was earned in the Juvenile and all earned last year as a 2-year-old. Sabercat is third on the list with the $600,000 he earned in the grade 3 Delta Downs Jackpot run at Delta Downs in Louisiana, also run last November.

However, the most important slots on the graded earnings list are much further down where Battle Hardened, Brother Francis and the filly Disposablepleasure sit tied for 18th with $120,000 each in graded earnings. For it is those three horses and their respective earnings that currently define the amount needed to make the top 20. Twenty is the maximum number of starters allowed in the Run for the Roses.

The owners, trainers, jockeys and fans of all the 3-year-olds currently below the $120,000 mark should not fret too much however, as that number will change many times in the next 77 days before the Derby. Some of the horses currently in the top 20 will be forced out of contention due to injury while others may just not have the Kentucky Derby in their plans. Both instances would lower the $120,000 mark.

Two fillies, On Fire Baby and Disposablepleasure, are on the list and they have the Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) as an option. There are also two foriegn-based horses on the list in Wrote and Genten. Wrote, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf (gr. I) at Churchill Downs, is based in Ireland with trainer Aidan O'Brien. O'Brien crossed the Atlantic many times last year with Cape Blanco and won the Eclipse Award for Champion Turf Horse in North America. O'Brien has started two horses in the Kentucky Derby. Johannesburg and Castle Gondolfo finished eighth and 12th respectively in the 2002 Derby. O'Brien has won six Breeders' Cup races over the years from more than 70 starters.

Trainer Yoshito Yahagi has Genten at his base in Japan and has never started a horse in either the Derby nor the Breeders' Cup.

There are some 31 graded races for 3-year-olds remaining before the Derby. That equates to some 150 opportunities to earn graded money, which of course, could drive up the $120,000 number.

Twenty horses have entered the Kentucky Derby every year since 2004 and in 11 of the past 13 years. Interestingly, last year Derby Kitten was the last to qualify for the Derby with $120,000 but it took a record $218,750 for Make Music For Me to get into the Run for Roses two years ago. Over the last five years, the final horse to make the Derby field has averaged $132,750 in graded earnings.

Graded stakes are considered graded or group status as assigned to the race by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee in Part I of the International Cataloguing Standards as published by The Jockey Club Information Systems, Inc. each year.

In the case of a tie for the final entry position or the determination of all remaining starters, preference is given to horses that accumulated the highest earnings in non-restricted stakes races. If a tie still remains, the final spots in the starting gate will be determined by lot or a “shake.”

For the first time since 1984, there will be an “also eligible” list with as many as four horses eligible to draw into the field until scratch time on Friday, May 4 at 9 a.m. ET.

Top 32 Graded Stakes Earners
Rank, Horse, Graded Earnings, Trainer
Thru Sunday, Feb. 12, 2012

1. Hansen, $1,160,000, Mike Maker
2. Union Rags, $830,000, Michael Matz
3. Sabercat $600,000, Steve Asmussen
4. Wrote-IRE $556,630, Aidan O’Brien
5. Creative Cause $488,000, Mike Harrington
6. Liaison $375,000, Bob Baffert
7. Dullahan $375,000, Dale Romans
8. Excaper $240,736, Ian Black
9. Algorithms $240,000, Todd Pletcher
10. On Fire Baby (f) $211,729, Gary Hartlage
11. Drill $210,000, Bob Baffert
12. Alpha $180,000, Kiaran McLaughlin
13. Rousing Sermon $164,000, Jerry Hollendorfer
14. Prospective $155,452, Mark Casse
15. I’ll Have Another $151,000, Doug O’Neill
16. Currency Swap $150,000, Teresa Pompay
17. Genten $123,826, Yoshito Yahagi
t-18. Battle Hardened $120,000, Eddie Kenneally
t-18. Brother Francis $120,000, Jim Cassidy
t-18. Disposablepleasure (f) $120,000, Todd Pletcher
21. Mr. Bowling $115,848, Larry Jones
22. Jack’s in the Deck $105,000, Robin Graham
23. Gemologist $103,855, Todd Pletcher
24. Longview Drive $102,000, Jerry Hollendorfer
25. Fly Lexis Fly $99,481, Neil Drysdale
26. Take Charge Indy $98,400, Pat Byrne
27. Daddy Long Legs $94,030, Aidan O’Brien
28. Red Duke $90,823 Maxilead Ltd. John Quinn
t-29. Overdriven $90,000, Todd Pletcher
t-29. Reneesgotzip (f) $90,000, Peter Miller
t-29. State of Play $90,000, Graham Motion
t-29. Thunder Moccasin $90,000, Todd Pletcher

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