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Kentucky Derby scenarios: 1 horse holds fate for 1 open spot

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Far beneath the debate about whether Sierra Leone or
Fierceness is the more worthy favorite for Kentucky Derby 2024, there is just
one spot left to be clinched in the 20-horse starting gate. At least for now.

It comes down to Hades next weekend in the last of the
points races. If he wins the Grade 3, $400,000 Lexington Stakes on Saturday at
Keeneland, he is in. If he does not, Tampa Bay Derby runner-up No More Time comes
off the bench and gets the last spot in the main field.

 Kentucky Derby 2024        
Already clinched Rank Pts. **Earnings Saturday results
Sierra Leone   1st 155    $871,250 1st Blue Grass (G1), KEE
Fierceness   2nd 136 $1,646,100  
Catching Freedom   3rd 125    $802,000  
Stronghold   4th 125    $742,800 1st Santa Anita Derby (G1), SA
Resilience   5th 110    $416,000 1st Wood Memorial (G2), AQU
Forever Young   6th 100 $1,769,919  
Endlessly   7th 100    $658,000  
Dornoch   8th   75    $472,375 4th Blue Grass (G1), KEE
Just a Touch   9th   75    $247,500 2nd Blue Grass (G1), KEE
Track Phantom 10th   70    $300,000  
West Saratoga 11th   67    $363,640  
Just Steel 12th   65    $628,295  
Honor Marie 13th   65    $448,455  
Domestic Product 14th   60    $260,500  
Catalytic 15th   50    $186,000  
Deterministic 16th   50    $180,000 8th Wood Memorial (G2), KEE
Society Man (g) 17th   50    $180,000 2nd Wood Memorial (G2), KEE
Mystik Dan 18th   46    $550,050  
T O Password 20th  Jpn    $161,743  
Needs Europe rejection Rank Pts. **Earnings
No More Time 19th   45    $194,380  
Needs Lexington win Rank Pts. **Earnings Next race
Hades 24th   30    $189,800 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Needs Lex win & dropouts Rank Pts. **Earnings Next race
Encino 32nd   20      $87,536 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Liberal Arts 33rd   19    $220,325  
Lucky Jeremy 34th   16    $119,200  
Waiting for dropouts Rank Pts. **Earnings Saturday results
Grand Mo the First 21st   40    $164,250  
Common Defense 22nd   37    $253,450  
Epic Ride 23rd   35    $198,315 3rd Blue Grass (G1), KEE
Uncle Heavy 25th   30    $167,500 5th Wood Memorial (G2), AQU
El Grande O 26th   30    $151,000  
Seize the Grey 27th   27    $113,163 7th Blue Grass (G1), KEE
Le Dom Bro 28th   25    $131,000  
E J Won the Cup   *   25    $126,000 3rd Santa Anita Derby (G1), SA
Pandagate 29th   25    $100,206  
Tuscan Gold 30th   25    $100,000  
Protective 31st   25      $75,000 3rd Wood Memorial (G2), AQU
Possible spoilers in Lex Rank Pts. **Earnings Next race
The Wine Steward       5    $219,010 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Footprint       2      $52,500 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Everdoit       0      $14,380 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Secret Chat       0      $12,870 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Dilger       0           $900 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
How’s Ur Attitude       0               $0 Saturday, Lexington (G3), KEE
Not expected in Derby Rank Pts. **Earnings  
Timberlake     81 $1,132,500  
  *Not nominated for TC        
**Non-restricted stakes        
Jpn Japan berth      

All this presumes the Europe invitation is turned down,
something that has happened pretty much every time it has been offered. Bracken’s
Laugh has first dibs after winning Saturday in the Cardinal at Chelmsford City,
but his trainer Richard Hughes told Racing Post there are no plans to
leave England. The next three in the standings could say yes, but since they were
not nominated for the Triple Crown, there is a $200,000 reason to figure they
will not be supplemented for the $5 million classic.

Hades, who was 3-for-3 before he finished fifth in the
Florida Derby (G1), is the only horse among the 10 entered for the Lexington
who controls his fate. The race is worth 20-10-6-4-2 qualifying points to the
top five finishers. A victory would get him to 50 points and, with the earnings
tiebreaker, 15th place in the standings.

Encino, who was scratched from Saturday’s Blue Grass (G1)
and re-aimed for the Lexington, could move ahead of Grand Mo the First atop the
Derby waiting list with a win next weekend. Liberal Arts and Lucky Jeremy also
could join the stand-bys with a Lexington victory. After that, the rest of the next
weekend’s field would be playing the spoilers’ role.

If Hades were to lose the Lexington, he still could be among
the horses in line for the four also-eligible entries into the Derby. Right now
he is on the list behind Grand Mo the First, Common Defense and
third-place Blue Grass finisher Epic Ride.

Because dropouts are inevitable, arithmetic is not the only
way into the big gate at Churchill Downs. Six horses who qualified for last year’s
race did not make it, including top two point-getters Forte and Practical Move.
Eventual 80-1 winner Rich Strike got in two years ago after five others dropped
out. In 2022, 12 of the horses who dominoed their way into the top 20 after the
Lexington did not start the Derby.

Under the current qualifying system that is in its 11th year, these were the horses who came and went from the Derby before it was run. The standings column shows where they stood right after the final points race each spring, according to what was posted at the time by Churchill Downs.

 Kentucky Derby attrition    
2023    
Ins (18 ran) Standings Derby finish
Mandarin Hero 25th 12th
King Russell 26th 15th
Jace’s Road 21st 17th
Cyclone Mischief 23rd 18th
Outs Standings  
Forte   1st  
Practical Move   2nd  
Lord Miles   6th  
Wild On Ice 15th  
Blazing Sevens 17th  
Continuar Japan berth  
     
2022    
Ins (20 ran) Standings Derby finish
Rich Strike 25th   1st
Pioneer of Medina 22nd 19th
Outs Standings  
Un Ojo 14th  
Early Voting 15th  
Morello 16th  
In Due Time 23rd  
Ethereal Road 24th  
     
2021    
Ins (19 ran) Standings Derby finish
O Besos 25th   4th
Keepmeinmind 30th   6th
Hidden Stash 23rd 13th
Outs Standings  
Concert Tour   9th  
Weyburn 11th  
Caddo River 13th  
Panadol 16th  
Crowded Trade 19th  
Proxy 21st  
Rombauer 22nd  
Dream Shake 24th  
Get Her Number 26th  
Hozier 27th  
King Fury 28th  
Hockey Dad 29th  
     
2020 – undersubscribed    
Ins (15 ran)    
   
2019    
Ins (19 ran) Standings Derby finish
Bodexpress 21st 13th
Outs Standings  
Omaha Beach   2nd  
Haikal 10th  
     
2018    
Ins (20 ran) Standings Derby finish
Combatant 21st 18th
Outs Standings  
Quip 10th  
Gronkowski Europe berth  
     
2017    
Ins (20 ran) Standings Derby finish
Lookin At Lee 22nd   2nd
Untrapped 21st 12th
Sonneteer 23rd 16th
Outs Standings  
Malagacy 13th  
Battalion Runner 19th  
Cloud Computing 20th  
     
2016    
In (20 ran) Standings Derby finish
Mo Tom 21st   8th
Out Standings  
Cupid 13th  
     
2015    
Ins (18 ran) Standings Derby finish
Keen Ice 24th   7th
Mr. Z 30th 13th
Far Right 23rd 15th
Outs Standings  
International Star   1st  
El Kabeir   7th  
Maftool 15th  
One Lucky Dane 16th  
Ami’s Flatter 17th  
Stanford 18th  
Prospect Park 21st  
Conquest Typhoon 22nd  
Daredevil 25th  
Madefromlucky 26th  
Tiz Shea D 27th  
Frammento 28th  
Bold Conquest 29th  
     
2014    
In (19 ran) Standings Derby finish
Commanding Curve 21st 2nd
Outs Standings  
Hoppertunity   7th  
Ring Weekend 14th  
Pablo Del Monte 21st  
     
2013    
Ins (19 ran)    
– undersubscribed –    
Outs Standings  
Black Onyx 11th

Unforeseen circumstances are also disruptive. Two years ago
Classic Causeway was scratched out of his place in the top 20 just as
Timberlake has been this year. Then connections changed their minds.

As one Churchill Downs spokesperson put it, “That’s why
pencils have erasers.”

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