02/12/2014 12:29PM

Kentucky Derby: Who's hot, who's not for Feb. 12, 2014

Barbara D. Livingston
Top Billing stamped himself as a Kentucky Derby contender with a 2 3/4-length allowance score at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 25.

Who’s hot

Shug McGaughey, who trained 2013 Kentucky Derby winner Orb, has two highly ranked horses in this year’s inaugural Derby Watch top 20, Honor Code and Top Billing, the co-second choices at 6-1 on the future line set by Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form ’s national handicapper. Keep in mind that the line is set based solely on the 20 horses currently on the list; Cairo Prince is favored at 5-1. Bob Baffert, Todd Pletcher, and John Sadler are the other trainers with multiple runners in the top 20.

Who’s not

Some of the highly regarded 2-year-olds from last year have been retired (New Year’s Day) or had training setbacks (Havana and Shared Belief). Top prospects who disappointed in their most recent starts, such as Gold Hawk and Wicked Strong, failed to make the cut, though both will get chances to vault onto the list in upcoming preps.

On the bubble

Shared Belief would be at or near the top of the list had everything gone smoothly this winter, and if he happens to progress very quickly once he begins working, he’d be the leading candidate for inclusion. There are many others who have shown promise and will step in if they run well in their next starts, or if one of the current members of the top 20 falters. That list includes, but is not limited to, Albano, Almost Famous, Bayern, Chitu, Constitution, General a Rod, Hartford, Intense Holiday, Hoppertunity, In Trouble, Mexikoma, Surfing U S A, Tanzanite Cat, Tap It Rich, Tonalist, Wicked Strong, and Wildcat Red.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]