Santa Anita morning line maker Jon White formulates a Kentucky Derby Top 10 each week, employing video review and monitoring the opinions of other respected racing observers nationwide. The following is Jon's most recent Derby Top 10, courtesy of Xpressbet:
Holding the No. 1 spot this week on my Top 10 is Storm the Court, who was voted a 2019 Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old male. Trainer Peter Eurton continues to get the Breeders' Cup Juvenile winner ready to make his return to equine combat in Santa Anita's seven-furlong San Vicente Stakes on Feb. 9.
Where does Storm the Court rank on some other Kentucky Derby lists?
BloodHorse's Steve Haskin has Storm the Court at No. 2 on his Derby Dozen behind only Dennis' Moment.
As for the Top 20 rankings by Gary West (the respected journalist, not the owner of Maximum Security), Storm the Court is No. 10. West, like Haskin, has Dennis' Moment in the top spot.
Jeremy Plonk, who puts together a weekly Top 20 for Countdown to the Crown, has Storm the Court all way down at No. 14. Plonk's No. 1 is Honor A.P.
The future book odds released Monday by the William Hill Sports Book indicates just how wide open the 2020 Kentucky Derby appears to be at this point. William Hill's 8-1 favorite is Tiz the Law. Next on Monday's list of odds were Dennis' Moment, Maxfield, Storm the Court and Thousand Words, all at 12-1.
Tiz the Law and Thousand Words both will be running Saturday. Tiz the Law is the 3-5 morning-line favorite in Gulfstream Park's Holy Bull Stakes, a 1 1/16-mile race that has attracted a field seven. Thousand Words is the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita. The Lewis, also a 1 1/16-mile affair, has drawn a field of six.
Trained by Barclay Tagg, Tiz the Law makes his 2020 debut after winning two of three starts as a 2-year-old. The Constitution colt won the Champagne Stakes by four lengths at Belmont Park in early October. Tiz the Law then finished a close third in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes when he experienced a troubled trip on a wet track in late November.
Thousand Words, a $1 million yearling acquisition, is two for two. After winning a maiden race at Santa Anita in late October for trainer Bob Baffert, Thousand Words won the Los Alamitos Futurity on a wet track in early December. Thousand Words' sire is Pioneerof the Nile, whose son American Pharoah swept the Triple Crown in 2015. Baffert also trained American Pharoah.
High Velocity, who like Thousand Words hails from the powerful Baffert barn, also is entered in the Lewis. High Velocity, 3-1 on the morning line, finished third in the Los Al Futurity.
Also at 3-1 on the Lewis morning line is Tizamagician, who won a one-mile maiden race by 2 1/2 lengths at Santa Anita on New Year's Day. A son of two-time Breeders' Cup Classic winner Tiznow, Tizamagician had been winless in five starts prior to his Jan. 1 triumph. Keep in mind Omaha Beach was winless in his first four career starts, but then reeled off four straight victories. Can Tizamagician similarly go on a winning streak after finally leaving the maiden ranks?
The Holy Bull, Lewis and Aqueduct's 1 1/8-mile Wither Stakes are the three races Saturday on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
Topping the field of eight entered in the Withers is Shotski, who is the 2-1 morning-line favorite. He will be making his first start since winning the Remsen Stakes at the Big A in early December. Jeremiah O'Dwyer trains Shotski, whose sire, Blame, won the 2010 Breeders' Cup Classic by a dramatic head to hand the great Zenyatta the only loss in her 20-race career.
Saturday's seven-furlong Swale Stakes at Gulfstream does not offer any Kentucky Derby points. Nevertheless, it should be watched closely due primarily to the presence of Green Light Go and Untitled in the field of eight.
Green Light Go, trained by Jimmy Jerkens, will be competing for the first time since he finished second as the 6-5 favorite in the aforementioned Champagne won by Tiz the Law. A son of Hard Spun, Green Light Go won the Saratoga Special last summer.
Untitled, who is No. 10 on my Kentucky Derby rankings, was an 11-length winner at first asking in a six-furlong maiden race at Gulfstream on Dec. 14 for trainer Ralph Nicks. Mark Casse subsequently took over as trainer of the Khozan colt following a private sale in which Gary Barber is now the majority owner. Casse won last year's Preakness Stakes with War of Will and Belmont Stakes with Sir Winston.
The only race on the Road to the Kentucky Derby last week was Oaklawn Park's Smarty Jones Stakes, a race worth 10-4-2-1 Kentucky Derby points to the first four finishers. Gold Street won in a 10-1 upset. Three Technique ran second as the 2-1 favorite. Shoplifted and Silver Prospector finished third and fourth, respectively.
Trained by Steve Asmussen, Gold Street led all the way on a muddy track and won by 2 3/4 lengths. It was Gold Street's third consecutive victory. The Street Boss colt still needs to prove he can succeed on a track that isn't wet. He is three for three when racing on a wet track. He's winless in three starts when running on a track that wasn't wet.
In the Smarty Jones, Gold Street seemingly took advantage of a racing surface that was favorable to early speed. I thought that Three Technique did give a good account of himself to finish second while racing around two turns for the first time. Not only did Three Technique come home willingly, he galloped out strongly. I'm still not as high on Three Technique as some people, but I will be taking him more seriously going forward off his commendable effort in defeat last week.
Meanwhile, Daily Racing Form's Marty McGee provided an update this week regarding the status of Maxfield. A son of 2007 Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense, Maxfield is No. 6 on my rankings.
McGree reported Wednesday that Maxfield recently returned to trainer Brendan Walsh's barn at the Palm Meadows training center in Florida after undergoing rehabilitation at Bridlewood Farm in Ocala, Fla. The colt had a small ankle chip removed after being scratched from the Nov. 1 Breeders' Cup Juvenile. Maxfield, who is two for two, rallied from ninth to win the Breeders' Futurity by 5 1/2 widening lengths at Keeneland last October.
Walsh told McGee: “He's back galloping at Palm Meadows and we'll monitor him this week as to when he can start back working. But he's done great physically and is moving great, too. We're going to see how he does, let him tell us where we are with him. I'd say we'll know a lot more in a month or so. I wouldn't rule anything out, and I wouldn't rule anything in. It will be a waiting game with him for a little while.”
The following is Jon White's Kentucky Derby rankings for this week, courtesy of Xpressbet:
1. Storm the Court
2. Dennis' Moment
4. Honor A.P.
5. Thousand Words
7. Tiz the Law
9. Independence Hall
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