No horse was overly impressive but will be curious to see if the Sunland Park Derby first three finishers (Endorsement, Conveyance and Tempted to Tapit) move forward. That race had the fastest time of all the prep races and remember that race produced last year's Derby winner - Mine That Bird (right).
But finishing in the top two in your last prep race before the Derby has been crucial. Since 1988, only five horses finished worse then second in their final race and went on to win the Derby. Those five are (1990 - Unbridled, 3rd Blue Grass; 1993 - Sea Hero, unplaced in Blue Grass; 1995 - Thunder Gulch, 4th Blue Grass; 2005 - Giacomo, 3rd Santa Anita Derby; 2009 - Mine That Bird, 4th Sunland Park Derby.)
Since there hasn't been a dominant 3-year-old this year, it looks like more than 20 will want to start in the Derby. If that holds true, then it will come down to which horses have enough Graded Stakes earnings to get into the Top 20.
After the four races this weekend, there are some bigger names that would be excluded. Among those that are on the "outside looking in" with their position on the list:
24 - Pleasant Prince, winner of the Florida Derby
25 - Tempted to Tapit, 3rd in the Sunland Park Derby
27 - Connemara, 3rd in the Lane's End
28 - Northern Giant, 2nd in the Lane's End
32 - Drosselmeyer - 3rd in the Louisiana Derby
There are still a handful of races to go but the money situation will hold the key for which 20 horses we see on the first Saturday in May.
Photo courtesy of Eclipse Sportswire