Exaggerator rises after prep romp
Brody's Cause can win races at Keeneland. The bigger question is whether he's ready to win again at nearby Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.
Of course, Dale Romans believes his 3-year-old colt is ready for the Kentucky Derby following his victory in the Blue Grass on Saturday.
"We're going into the Kentucky Derby in perfect form," Romans said. "He's already won on the track, which you know is important at Churchill Downs, and the farther the better."
Brody's Cause, along with Wood Memorial winner Outwork and Santa Anita Derby winner Exaggerator swept into the AP's latest Run to the Roses Top 10, with Romans' colt at No. 5. Exaggerator is third and Outwork ninth.
Undefeated Nyquist, back galloping this week after a brief blood issue, is an even more solid No. 1 following the biggest Saturday of the Derby preps season.
After Nyquist, the field looks wide open, but Louisiana Derby winner Gun Runner remains No. 2 with four wins in five starts. His loss, though, came at Churchill Downs in last year's Kentucky Jockey Club. He does own a win over the track — in his first career start.
Of Brody's Cause's three wins from six races, two were at Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky, and his first career win came at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky.
Exaggerator loved a muddy track in winning the Santa Anita Derby by 6 1/4 lengths. His weakness may be Nyquist — he's 0-for-3 against the likely Derby favorite.
Mor Spirit was second to Exaggerator for Triple Crown-winning trainer Bob Baffert, and checks in at No. 6. Baffert sends out Rebel winner Cupid — seventh this week — on Saturday in the Arkansas Derby, one of two final prep races before the May 7 Derby.
Danzing Candy, who finished fourth in the Santa Anita Derby, drops off the list, as does Shagaf (fifth in the Wood) and Zulu (12th in the Blue Grass), who is not headed to the Derby.
Cupid is the likely top choice for what could be an 11-horse field in the Arkansas Derby. Among others expected to run are Dazzling Gem, Discreetness, Suddenbreakingnews and Whitmore.
Derby qualifying points for the Arkansas Derby are 100 for first, 40 for second, 20 for third and 10 for fourth.
Last year, American Pharoah won the Rebel before going on to win the Arkansas Derby and then becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 37 years.
The other prep on Saturday, the final day of Derby preps, is the Lexington Stakes, offering points on a 10-4-2-1 scale.
Here's our Top 10:
1. Nyquist (Doug O'Neill, trainer; Mario Gutierrez, jockey): Likely Derby favorite with perfect seven-for-seven record. ... Back training at Keeneland after missing day with blood issue. ... Won Florida Derby showdown with Mohaymen with ease on April 2. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby, Churchill Downs, May 7. ... Derby odds: 3-1.
2. Gun Runner (Steve Asmussen, Florent Geroux): Louisiana Derby winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:01 at Churchill Downs on Monday. ... Has four wins in five races. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 13-1.
3. Exaggerator (Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux): Took to slop and won Santa Anita Derby by 6 1/4 lengths. ... Hall of Fame jockey seeking fourth Derby win. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 27-1.
4. Mohaymen (Kiaran McLaughlin, Junior Alvarado): Brings resume of five wins in six starts to Derby. ... Finished fourth in Florida Derby in last race. .. Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 13-1.
5. Brody's Cause (Dale Romans, Luis Saez): Came from way off pace to win Blue Grass. ... All three career wins have come in state of Kentucky. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 10-1 (mutuel field).
6. Mor Spirit (Bob Baffert, Gary Stevens): Runner-up in Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe. ... Did not start well in mud at Santa Anita. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 11-1.
7. Cupid (Baffert, Martin Garcia): Rebel winner heading back to Arkansas for final prep. ... Won last two starts after two career-opening losses. ... Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, Saturday. ... Odds: 11-1.
8. Destin (Todd Pletcher, Javier Castellano): Will come into Derby with eight weeks between races. ... Won Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby ... Odds: 16-1.
9. Outwork (Pletcher, John Velazquez): Won Wood despite slowest time in history of race. ... Gives trainer a second Derby contender. ... Last Wood winner to take Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 30-1.
10. Lani (Mikio Matsunaga, Yutaka Take): Stays on list off UAE Derby win last month. .. Arrived last week at Churchill Downs. ... Bred in Kentucky, races in Japan. Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 25-1.
Keep an eye on: Creator, Dazzling Gem, My Man Sam, Mo Tom, Whitmore.
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