This past weekend, a $1,000 yearling purchase named All Squared Away won the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington Stakes.
Sent off at odds of 70-to-1, the bargain basement purchase is not nominated for the Kentucky Derby. Even with his victory, he did not accumulate enough graded stakes earnings to make his way into the Kentucky Derby field, which is limited to the top-20 money earners.
All Sqaured Away defeated, among others, second-place finisher Summer Front, who had been undefeated as a 2-year-old winner of three races and was making his first start as a 3-year-old.
The Lexington was the last realistic chance for potential Derby entries to pick up enough graded stakes money to qualify for the Derby. Today, the Derby Trial will be run at Churchill Downs. But with the Kentucky Derby only a week away, it is highly unlikely that any horse running in the Trial would pick up enough graded earnings to get into the Derby field, let alone choose to run back on only a week's rest.
As it now stands, the Kentucky Derby field is filled with some interesting choices, as 11 of the expected entries have already won more than $500,000 in their short racing careers. El Padrino, who is currently No. 20 on that list, has won more than $250,000 in graded earnings and certainly cannot be discounted when the starting gate opens on the first Saturday in May.
El Padrino has raced six times with three wins, one second, one third and one fourth-place finish when he last raced in the Florida Derby on March 31. Even the great Secretariat finished third in the Wood Memorial, which was his last race before going on to win the 1973 Kentucky Derby and ultimately sweep the Triple Crown.
Early favorites for the Derby will undoubtedly include Bodemeister, undefeated Gemologist, Dullahan, I'll Have Another, and Pennsylvania-born Union Rags, who has maintained his pre-Derby favorite status despite finishing a fast-closing 3rd in the Wood Memorial (like Secretariat).
With the recent addition of speed ball Trinniberg to the Derby line-up, there is a lot of speculation that horses such as Hansen or Take Charge Indy, which are used to being at the front early in the race, will run out of gas and be overtaken in the last 1/8 of the 1/1/4 mile Kentucky Derby.
Randy P. Brungard is a local attorney and an avid follower of horse racing around the country. He writes a weekly column in The Express about the sport.