A combination of major upsets and minor injuries have turned
what appeared to be a strong Kentucky Derby field into a wide-open
One-time top contender Uncle Mo finished third in the Wood
Memorial as the 1-10 favorite, and is recovering from a
gastrointestinal infection. His Derby status remains
The Factor wasn’t one in the Arkansas Derby, finishing seventh
as the 4-5 top choice.
Other Derby hopefuls, including To Honor and Serve, Premier
Pegasus and Jaycito, have been sidelined with assorted
So, with less than two weeks before the Derby, the role of No. 1
on the AP’s final Top 10 list of Derby contenders falls to Dialed
The lightly raced, 3-year-old colt trained by two-time Derby
winner Nick Zito ran himself into the top spot by winning the
Florida Derby by a head over Shackleford on April 3.
Since then, Uncle Mo’s unbeaten record ended in the Wood;
favorite Premier Pegasus, followed by new favorite Jaycito were
scratched from the Santa Anita Derby; The Factor ran seventh in
Arkansas; and 2-1 choice favorite Santiva finished ninth in the
Blue Grass Stakes.
Neither the Lexington Stakes nor the Jerome Stakes produced a
Derby contender over the weekend, leaving the rest of this week’s
Top 10 unchanged.
Risen Star winner Mucho Macho Man is No. 2, with Wood winner
Toby’s Corner at No. 3, followed by Uncle Mo and Arkansas Derby
A little history, though, says a horse doesn’t have to win a
final prep race to win the Kentucky Derby. Since Strike the Gold
won the Blue Grass followed by the Derby in 1991, only six others
have completed the final prep-Derby double.
Zito will be glad to know that two of those horses won the
Florida Derby before taking the Kentucky Derby – Barbaro in 2006
and Big Brown in 2008.
The other Derby winners who won their final prep are Charismatic
(1999 Lexington), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Wood), War Emblem (2002
Illinois Derby) and Smarty Jones (2004 Arkansas Derby).
The field for Derby No. 137 could be even more open than last
year, when Super Saver won as the second-betting choice at 8-1.
Lookin At Lucky was the 6-1 favorite, which equaled Harlan’s
Holiday in 2002 for the longest priced Derby favorite.
The loss of Jaycito leaves three-time Derby winning-trainer Bob
Baffert with two probable starters in No. 8 Midnight Interlude and
No. 10 The Factor.
Trainer Todd Pletcher could have two starters on May 7 in Uncle
Mo and Stay Thirsty as he goes for his second straight Derby
While John Velazquez is set to ride Uncle Mo, Pletcher may team
up again with Calvin Borel to ride Stay Thirsty. Borel was aboard
the colt for a workout Sunday. Pletcher did not rule out reuniting
with the rider who has won the Derby three of the past four years,
including last year with Super Saver.
The Derby is limited to 20 starters. If more are entered, the
field will be determined by graded stakes earnings. Currently,
Santiva is 20th at $242,397, Watch Me Go is 21st at $235,500 and
Shackleford is 22nd at $212,000.
1. Dialed In (Nick Zito, trainer; Julien Leparoux, jockey):
Florida Derby winner has won three of four starts for owner Robert
LaPenta. … Two of past five Kentucky Derby winners won Florida
Derby first. … Next start: Kentucky Derby (May 7, Churchill
Downs, dirt). … Odds: 5-1.
2. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh): Brings a record
of two wins in eight starts to Derby. … Last two races: Won Risen
Star, third in Louisiana Derby. … Worked 7 furlongs in 1:29.20
Sunday in the rain at Churchill Downs. … Next start: Kentucky
Derby. … Odds: 27-1.
3. Toby’s Corner (Graham Motion, Eddie Castro): Last Wood winner
to take Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. … Son of Bellamy Road
has four wins and two thirds in six career races. … Next start:
Kentucky Derby. … Odds: 8-1 (mutuel field).
4. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Seems to be
recovering well from gastrointestinal infection. … Galloped 1 1/2
miles Sunday at Churchill Downs; Derby future could depend on
Tuesday workout. … 2-year-old champ brings a record of 4-0-1 in
five races into Derby. … Next start: Kentucky Derby. … Odds:
5. Archarcharch (Jinks Fires, Jon Court): Arkansas Derby winner
has Fires and Court psyched for their first Kentucky Derby. …
Owns 3-1-1 record from six starts. … Next start: Kentucky Derby.
… Odds: 8-1 (mutuel field).
6. Nehro (Steve Asmussen, Corey Nakatani): Likely to be the hot
horse Derby week after just missing in Arkansas and Louisiana
derbies. … Next start: Kentucky Derby. … Odds: 30-1.
7. Pants On Fire (Kelly Breen, Rosie Napravnik): Louisiana Derby
winner worked 5 furlongs in 59.00 Saturday at Palm Meadows. … Has
won two of eight races. … Next start: Kentucky Derby. … Odds:
8. Midnight Interlude (Bob Baffert, Victor Espinoza): Santa
Anita Derby winner has a 2-1-1 record from four starts. … Baffert
looking for Derby win No. 4. … Next start: Kentucky Derby. …
Odds: 8-1 (mutuel field).
9. Soldat (Kiaran McLaughlin, Alan Garcia): Worked 5 furlongs in
59.00 last week at Palm Meadows. … Fifth in Florida Derby in last
start, but has 3-4-0 record in eight races. … Next start:
Kentucky Derby. … Odds: 17-1.
10. The Factor (Baffert, Martin Garcia): Baffert could have a
second Derby starter if horse works well following poor effort in
Arkansas Derby. … Next start: Kentucky Derby. … Odds: 10-1.
Keep an eye on: Animal Kingdom, Comma to the Top, J.P’s Gusto,
Shackleford, Stay Thirsty.