02/15/2017 2:10PM

Kentucky Derby: Who's hot, who's not for Feb. 17, 2017

Barbara D. Livingston
Irish War Cry assured himself a spot on the Derby Watch top 20 by winning the Holy Bull Stakes.


Kentucky Derby-winning trainers Bob Baffert (American Anthem and Mastery), John Shirreffs (Gormley and Royal Mo), and Todd Pletcher (Always Dreaming, Battalion Runner, and Tapwrit) all have multiple runners on the top 20 list. Other Derby-winning trainers who have a runner on the list are Graham Motion (Irish War Cry) and Doug O’Neill (Iliad).

:: DERBY WATCH: Top 20 list | Derby Watch: Classic Empire remains on top


The Derby Watch executive committee had a tentative list made one week ago, prior to the Sam Davis Stakes. No Dozing was on the list before the race. After finishing a dull sixth, he was dropped. Battle of Midway also was a tentative selection before he finished third in the San Vicente.


If the connections of the filly Unique Bella change their minds and decide to go to the Derby, she’d obviously go on the list, but trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday in May is her target. Among those just missing the cut this week were State of Honor and Untrapped. There are two scoring races in the United States this weekend – the El Camino Real Derby on Saturday and the Southwest Stakes on Monday – and while the El Camino Real Derby didn’t appear as if it would come up strong, the Southwest was expected to include Smarty Jones runner-up Petrov, who would forge his way onto the list with a victory.

But the most significant race may be taking place Sunday at Tokyo Race Course, where the 1,600-meter Hyacinth will be run. Churchill Downs is seeking to get a Japanese-based runner into the Derby – which would enable Churchill Downs to offer simulcast wagering on the race in Japan – and thus has carved out 50 points for the winner of the Hyacinth. That would be enough to secure a starting spot in the Derby.

:: ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays, and analysis