04/09/2012 2:48PM

Kentucky Derby: Race for graded stakes cash intensifies

Benoit & Associates
From left: I’ll Have Another, Creative Cause, and Blueskiesnrainbows run 1-2-3 in the Santa Anita Derby.

ARCADIA, Calif. – In the winner’s circle following the Santa Anita Derby on Saturday, the scores of employees of owner Paul Reddam who stuffed themselves into the enclosure along with I’ll Have Another began chanting “CashCall, CashCall,” and while it may have been a shout out to their boss’ business, it was an appropriate rallying cry for this year’s Kentucky Derby, because it appears a large influx of cash is going to be needed to make the Derby field.

Even with races such as the Arkansas Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Lexington Stakes still to be run over the next two weekends, the cutoff for the Derby field already is more than $250,000. That puts horses like Mark Valeski, El Padrino, and Reveron in a tenuous spot and makes Saturday’s Arkansas Derby virtually a must-win situation for Bodemeister, because $200,000 for running second would only bring him to $260,000.

Sure, there are likely to be defections before entry day May 2, but the cutoff, at this date, is higher than in most years, a reflection of how consistently well the top-tiered runners from this crop have performed this spring.

[2012 Kentucky Derby contenders ranked by graded stakes earnings]

And that is why it was imperative for I’ll Have Another and Wood Memorial winner Gemologist to come through with big efforts on Saturday, or else they might have risked being on the outside looking in. If more than 20 horses enter the Derby, which seems certain, the field is determined by earnings in graded stakes races. And, going into Saturday, both were below the cutoff.

I’ll Have Another, along with Santa Anita Derby runner-up Creative Cause, emerged from the race in good condition and will move on to the May 5 Derby at Churchill Downs, their trainers reported. Liaison, who was sixth in the Santa Anita Derby, also could run in the Kentucky Derby, since he has banked enough cash, even though his recent form is below par.

Gemologist and Alpha also are bound for the Derby following their one-two finish in the Wood. And so is Done Talking, who rallied to win the Illinois Derby and take down a $300,000 first prize.

I’ll Have Another received a Beyer Speed Figure of 94. Gemologist got a 98, and Done Talking recorded an 86. All those races were at 1 1/8 miles, a furlong shorter than the Kentucky Derby.

Trinniberg, who won the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct on Saturday, got a 94 Beyer. His connections are on the fence regarding the Derby, and a decision on his status will be watched closely by those on the earnings bubble, because, right now, Trinniberg is among the top 20.

“It’s very, very hard,” said Shivananda Parbhoo, who owns Trinniberg. “The whole family wants to go to the Kentucky Derby. It’s the first chance we have to go to the Derby, but to me I want to do the right thing for the horse. Maybe he could go a mile easy, beyond that I’m not so sure, and I don’t want to go to the Derby and find that out.”

Doug O’Neill, trainer of I’ll Have Another, had yet to consult with Reddam and decide when I’ll Have Another would head to Kentucky.

“I’m excited to bring the Santa Anita Derby winner to the Kentucky Derby,” O’Neill said.

Creative Cause just missed after a stirring stretch drive in a performance his trainer, Mike Harrington, called “probably the best race he’s run.”

“Joel,” Harrington said, referring to jockey Joel Rosario, “said if he’d been outside, he could have won.”

Creative Cause ran without blinkers for the first time in the Santa Anita Derby. Harrington said he would “probably” start Creative Cause without blinkers in the Kentucky Derby. Regardless, Creative Cause will do the bulk of his training at Hollywood Park before leaving for Kentucky on April 28, allowing him time for one workout the week of the Derby at Churchill Downs.

Liaison “came back like he didn’t run,” trainer Bob Baffert said. “He never liked this track. He’s had terrible trips.”

Baffert said Liaison will ship to Churchill Downs, but must train well to start in the Kentucky Derby.

“I’ll take him there and train him,” Baffert said. “I hope to see a real improvement.”

Gemologist, who spent the winter at the Palm Meadows training center, was flown back to Florida on Sunday and will do all his serious training there before heading to Kentucky on May 1, trainer Todd Pletcher said. El Padrino also is at Palm Meadows.

“There’s no huge advantage to be at Churchill this whole time,” Pletcher said from Palm Meadows. “For the most part, you know what you’re going to get weather-wise here. If it gets a little warm, horses get a little bit of a lift going from warm to cool. If it’s warm at Churchill, he’ll be used to it.

“Being at Churchill last spring and watching it rain for 17 consecutive days, we might as well stay here,” Pletcher added.

Take Charge Indy, the Florida Derby winner, and Union Rags also are currently training at Palm Meadows.

By contrast, trainer Kiaran McLaughlin on Monday said he would “most likely” van Alpha from New York to Churchill Downs on April 16 or 17 in order to have two workouts there, plus do some gate schooling, since that was an issue for Alpha in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile last fall at Churchill Downs.

Done Talking returned to Laurel from Hawthorne on Sunday, but will arrive at Churchill Downs in time to have at least one workout over the track, trainer Hamilton Smith said.

“I want to try and get him there a little ahead of time,” Smith said. “I guess it’d be better to get a breeze over the track.”

– additional reporting by Steve Andersen, David Grening, Marcus Hersh, and Mike Welsch

st More than 1 year ago
If you have a derby super horse without graded earnings,, Man up and run your horse in the Kentucky Derby Trial. (Citation won the KD Trial and the Triple Crown in the same year, although graded earnings wasnt a factor to get Citation in the gate, Im just saying A super horse isn't going to be missed in this system)
Joe Tartaglia More than 1 year ago
Does anyone know what happened to Battle Hardened? Is he off the trail?
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
The Puett Starting gate was designed for and is built with 14 stalls... So there you have it. Post Positions 1 thru 12 and two for the Field. Count Grade 1 earnings only and write the conditions for Four Year Olds.
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
This Years Kentucky Derby Is Looking So Much Like A Repeat Of Last Years JUVENILE BREEDERS CUP Contenders ................... There just maybe 8 Coming back ! That is so Awesome to see .
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
If ya asked Javier whom he would rather ride if there were no names to jockey agents nor trainers , Javier would take UNION RAGS in a spit second . Would not even blink an eye . Javier knows now that his chances winning the Derby are not so good - though Javier will not come out and make such a statement . Javier losing the mount on UNION RAGS eats at him every night , and I dont blame him . I believe Javier AGENT should have let Javier stay with Whom JAVIER wanted too , not jst because of PLETCHER having all those other horses . There is only 1 Kentucky Derby each each year , and the selections that Javier had this Spring W O W , many !
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
Jay Privman : was great seeing ya again ! Say , Honestly , I know you have to be feeling pretty good about our top 7 Derby contenders , even though it is soo early yet . Tell me , why does Javier dis-like Julien so much now ............ that is like two guys fighting over the other taking his girl . Julien did not take UNION RAGS from Javier . It all had to do with Javier staying faithful to Pletcher , and Javier got caught with a switch I know he never really wanted to make . And in the Florida Derby , wowwwwwww Javier Made Sure That Julien was going No-Where
Geir Stabell More than 1 year ago
A horse that won a moderate G2 on Tapeta in Dubai sits second on the list... another who was 3rd in the same race but has won a weak G1 on turf as a 2yo is also in - these will be pushing serious US talents out of the Derby! This system is about as flawed as it can be. The two best races to win to get in are the Delta Jackpot and UAE Derby. How about that! Make a point system based on top 3 finishes in G1, G2, G3 races. Points earned at two should probably be halved. Get the best horses into the field. Geir Stabell, Globeform
Bwell More than 1 year ago
Couldn't disagree more!
Geir Stabell More than 1 year ago
The way you argue your case makes it difficult to respond.
Nick Gunritz More than 1 year ago
I don't think a point system helps much. What if a horse has only 3 races but is clearly talented (i.e. Big Brown 2008). Lets say BB had a terrible trip in Fl Derby and finished 2nd or 3rd, now he doesn't get in because of points? There needs to be a way to include human rationality. The fact of the matter is, whatever you think of El Padrino's chances in the Derby, I don't think there is anyone that feels he should not be in the field. Therefore, I would have the first 15 get in via graded earnings, however the graded earnings scale needs to be fixed to give more weight to 3yo earnings and route races. Then the last 5 should be selected by a group of expert handicappers or something like that.
Geir Stabell More than 1 year ago
This makes sense but those five expert handicappers would be under immense pressure. How about a fan voting selection for the last five horses? Either way, to let the UAE Derby, a G2 on a different surface staged in the Middle East, have such an impact makes little sense. In no time at all we will see 50% of the Kentucky Derby runners coming out of races like the UAE Derby, Qatar Derby, Saudi Arabia Derby, and valuable Japanse juveniles stakes perhaps...
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Who are you gonna throw out to make a spot for el padrino. I will make a case to keep him out. If he's not top 20 in graded earnings he's not in. The system isn't perfect but it is what it is. Someone help me but I can't think of a horse that has been excluded from running because of earnings that should have been included. At least they will have AEs this year. Or the system can be changed and allot Pletcher 4 spots Baffert 3 Asmussen 2 Motion 1 and the other 10 spots are up for grabs. Just be glad that Secret Circle showed some ability going long because next year there will probably be a 2yo sprint champ that's never been 1 mile before in the field. But I guess that's their right
st More than 1 year ago
Nobody cares about horses 15-20, Nobody feels sorry a horse that falls outside the top 20 in graded earning not making in the KD. Given Injuries and horses taking off the kentucky derby trail.. I'd say it usually ends up being 20 of the Top 30-35 horses in graded earnings that run in the KD. So now Lets whine about Horse number 36-40 in graded earnings not making the KD starting gate,,Gimmie a break. I dont way people are bashing International Racing here ( elephant in the room,,INTL racing is better than racing here in the USA) I actually see the appeal trying to make the KD more of a worldwide race for best 3 year old. (wouldn't be truly worldwide since it would have to adhere to being for North Hempishire horses to be for a true 3 year crop).. Keeping in mind INTL horses would have go through the same Triple Crown nomination process as any other horses
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
This here is the USA and the race is the Kentucky Derby. It was that way for a long time and it would be nice to keep it - ok? The Breeders Cup is in the fall and we just got past Dubai. Got a great grass horse - - - Go run in the Arc.
Bob Fritz More than 1 year ago
I like the fan vote better than expert handicappers. The experts also tend to be big bettors, and they could easily include or exclude a horse to serve their own agendas.
chad mc rory More than 1 year ago
Leave it to the horses. People can't be trusted.
JeanK More than 1 year ago
Douglas Rutherford More than 1 year ago
You was a WISE PERSON then . You will regret betting GEMOLOGIST .
OwenJ More than 1 year ago
If I were you (Douglas R) I would leave Gemologist, but then I'm not you! Gemologist is well bred, peaking at the right time, has a shrewd trainer and like his sire Tiznow, is a real battler. He is the real danger to Creative Cause in the Derby. Forget about Hanson and Rags. Later in the year, if they remain sound everyone will realise they are just very good milers in good company. The so-called experts will soon realise that Union Rags is just another Uncle Mo! and why are some even contemplating Liaison?
RANDY MAYORAL More than 1 year ago
Nce report, thank you for the information.
Bob Fritz More than 1 year ago
The charts of most of the Triple Crown winners' Derbys show that they faced smaller fields. This tells me that they were already starting to scare the competition off. I don't buy the idea that 20-horse fields have robbed us of a Triple Crown winner. When one comes along, we'll know it. The graded stakes earnings system isn't perfect, but it's the best thing we've got. I have no problem with the field size, either. It's a special race and more horses should have a chance at it. There needs to be a limit for safety's sake, and 20 is about right.
Bwell More than 1 year ago
Until the 1 hole is not facing the rail it is not safe. make it 18 and move the 1 off the rail.