With only five Kentucky Derby prep races left until the 143rd annual Run for the Roses, the biggest questions remains whether or not Bob Baffert will be a part of the most prestigious horse race of the year?
Other than the Lexington, which features a 10-4-2-1 Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points system, the other four remaining prep races (Wood Memorial Stakes, Blue Grass Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby) all have the same 100-40-20-10 points system for the top-four finishers.
If you take a look at the current points leaderboard you will see that the only Baffert-trained horse among the top-50 is American Anthem with four points. After breaking his maiden at Del Mar last December, American Anthem followed that up with a second-place finish in the Sham Stakes (G3) and a 10th-place result in the Rebel Stakes (G2).
The race to keep your eyes on for Baffert’s Kentucky Derby hopes is tomorrow’s Santa Anita Derby. There’s a possibility that Baffert will send three of his charges — American Anthem, Reach the World, and West Coast — to run in a race he has won the past seven years.
“Right now, I’m looking at possibly three,” said Baffert. “There are no allowance races to really run them back in, and even though West Coast ran nice but not real fast the other day (when he broke his maiden by 3 1/4 lengths going 1 1/16 miles March 12), if we run him here and he wins—finishes second, or whatever—that doesn’t necessarily mean we’d run him back in the (Kentucky) Derby.”
Baffert’s best shot at making another run at winning the Kentucky Derby was in the form of Mastery, who has won all four of his career starts, including three graded stakes races (San Felipe Stakes, Los Alamitos Cash Call Futurity, Bob Hopes Stakes). However, a post-San Felipe Stakes injury dashed any Kentucky Derby hopes.
Since 1996, Baffert has ran a horse in the Kentucky Derby every year except 2004, 2007, 2008, and 2013. With only four races that matter left to go, we’ll find out soon enough whether or not Baffert will have a contender in this year’s Kentucky Derby.