12/03/2014 12:25PM

Road to the Derby analysis: Kentucky Jockey Club

Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
El Kabeir wins the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

 Grade 2, $233,000 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes, 1 1/16 miles, Churchill Downs, Nov. 29, 2014
(10 Derby qualifying points for a win, 4 for second, 2 for third, 1 for fourth)

Winner: El Kabeir
Trainer: John Terranova
Jockey: Calvin Borel
Owner: Zayat Stables LLC
Beyer Speed Figure: 94

EL KABEIR got his first stakes win by leading this race from start to finish. He just did outlast IMPERIA, who turned in a valiant effort in his first start on dirt.

El Kabeir was able to clear his rivals early while setting a legitimate pace of 23.62 seconds for the quarter and 47.50 for a half-mile. Those closest to him early faltered, underscoring how well he ran to hold on.

His final time of 1:44.82 was the fastest on the card of the four dirt races run at 1 1/16 miles. By comparison, it took West Coast Belle 1:45.52 to win the Golden Rod for 2-year-old fillies.

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

This was the first start for El Kabeir outside of New York. His performance certainly boosts the stock of the likes of Blofeld, to whom El Kabeir finished second in his prior start, the Nashua Stakes at Aqueduct.

Imperia rallied three paths wide on the final turn and was fanned to the four path entering the lane but resolutely kept to his task and just missed. He certainly earned more chances on dirt after racing exclusively on turf prior to this race. He goes to Florida for the winter.

EAGLE, who finished third, ran into some traffic trouble when trying to rally inside on the far turn, came out and bumped LUCKY PLAYER when securing room in upper stretch, then finished well to be beaten less than one length. He will head to Fair Grounds for the winter.

INTERNATIONAL STAR was in a good spot chasing the leaders from a sensible distance down the backstretch but could not keep up with the first three in the final quarter-mile.

LORD NELSON, who was fifth, bobbled leaving the gate, was caught wide on the first turn, was wide again on the far turn, and was fanned five paths wide into the lane. He passed tired horses to finish fifth, but the belief here is that he is far better around one turn than two.

FLASHAWAY, who finished sixth, checked leaving the gate, was well back early, made a mild move on the far turn, and pretty much passed tired rivals in the lane.

LUCKY PLAYER, who was seventh, was three paths wide while in contention on the final turn, took up at the quarter pole while tiring, then was bumped by Eagle in upper stretch. He looks like the kind who will have to make his living in the minor derbies next year.

SKY HERO, who was eighth, stalked El Kabeir from second, then went in reverse seemingly without any excuse.

MAJESTICO, who finished ninth, was far back throughout and never made an appreciable run.

WAR POINT also was far back while inside during the early portion of the race and never got involved.

JUMPIN FRAC FLASH, who finished last of 11, was able to cross over from his outside post and secure a decent position into the first turn while racing fifth but began a steady fade beginning on the backstretch.