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Road to Kentucky Derby: Asmussen Could Sweep Preps

It’s still early for future Kentucky Derby odds to seriously take shape, but there’s two more prep races to be run this weekend. Hopefuls hit the road – or return to it – in the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Saturday and the Grade 3 Sunland Park Derby on Sunday.

Track Phantom rides a three-race win streak as the 7-2 morning-line favorite to win the Risen Star. Showers are forecast, but Track Phantom handled an off track in his second career start. The Sunland Park Derby isn’t quite as deep as the Risen Star, but could offer a bit of value.

Road to Kentucky Derby: Asmussen Could Sweep Preps
Road to Kentucky Derby: Asmussen Could Sweep Preps

Weekend Race Preps

1. The Risen Star Stakes is 1⅛ miles. The Sunland Park Derby is 1 1/16 miles.
2. Each race offers 42 Kentucky Derby qualifying points on a 20-10-6-4-2 basis.
3. Forty-five points were needed to qualify for the 2023 Kentucky Derby before scratches allowed two with 40 to make the race. Seven horses in the Risen Star have earned Kentucky Derby qualifying points. Two at Sunland Park are on the board.

RISEN STAR STAKES, Saturday, Fair Grounds, Race 14, Post Time 7:14 p.m. ET

Track Phantom can all but assure himself a spot in the Kentucky Derby starting gate with a victory in the Risen Star. Track Phantom boasts 30 points after winning the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds on Jan. 20 in front-running fashion at 7-5 in the horse racing odds.

The Quality Road colt is 2 for 2 at Fair Grounds. Joel Rosario rides for Steve Asmussen, the sport’s most successful trainer. Post 11 shouldn’t be much of a problem for Track Phantom, who has never been further behind after a half mile than second by a head in five races.

A price play to consider in the Las Vegas odds is Honor Marie, off since winning the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on Nov. 25. Honor Marie (6-1 ML), who beat Real Men Violin by two lengths in that race, packs a big closing punch. Real Men Violin beat Track Phantom on a sloppy track at Churchill in October and also hasn’t raced since the KJC.

Head for the BetUS racebook with confidence to play Honor Marie to win.

 

 

 

SUNLAND PARK DERBY, Sunday, Race 9, Post Time 6:17 p.m. ET

It is rare for the Sunland Park Derby to make any Kentucky Derby news, but there are some nice horses signed up. Among those is Informed Patriot, the 3-1 second choice who could give Asmussen and Rosario a sweep of the weekend preps.

Stronghold, the 5-2 ML favorite, ships from California for trainer Phil D’Amato. Stronghold finished second in his last two races behind Bob Baffert horses, including 8¾ lengths behind presumed 3-year-old division leader Nysos in the Bob Hope Stakes at Del Mar in November.

An interesting option in the Sunland Park Derby is Lucky Jeremy (4-1), who won the local prep and has a Beyer that fits with the two favorites. William Morey trains Lucky Jeremy.

 

 

Questions Of The Day

How many points does a horse need to qualify for the Kentucky Derby?


Forty-five points were needed to qualify for the 2023 Kentucky Derby before scratches allowed two with 40 to make the race.

When is the Kentucky Derby?


The Kentucky Derby is traditionally run on the first Saturday in May. The 150th Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 4, 2024 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

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