The Road to the Kentucky Derby finally reaches Kentucky with the Horseshoe Casino Cincinnati Racing Spiral Stakes (G3) at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. A field of 12 will vie for the $550,000 purse and a total of 85 points available in Churchill Downs’ Road to the Kentucky Derby points system. The top four finishers will earn the points and the possibility to follow the likes of Animal Kingdom (winner of Kentucky Derby 2011), Hard Spun (runner-up in Kentucky Derby 2007), and Perfect Drift (third-place in Kentucky Derby 2002) to Kentucky Derby notoriety.
Under the Kentucky Derby points system, the top four finishers in the 19-race “Kentucky Derby Prep Season” schedule of races are awarded 10-4-2-1 points, respectively. This “prep” portion of the schedule began in late September and concluded with the Grade 3 Southwest Stakes on Feb. 18. The two-leg Kentucky Derby Championship Series began Feb. 23 and awards the top four finishers in the listed races 50-20-10-5 points, respectively for the first leg of eight races and 100-40-20-10 points accordingly for the second leg of seven races. A wild card, which includes the Grade 3 Coolmore Lexington at Keeneland (Apr. 20) and the Grade 3 Derby Trial at Churchill Downs (Apr. 27) awards points of 20-8-4-2, respectively.
Headlining the field of 3-year-olds is trainer Jerry Hollendorfer’s El Camino Real Derby (G3) winner, Tamarando. Installed as the 3-1 morning-line favorite, Tamarando is one of only two contenders in the field with a Grade 1 victory, the other being Breeders’ Futurity winner We Miss Artie. Tamarando won the Del Mar Futurity at Del Mar Racetrack Sept. 4 when he closed late from deep in the field of 11 and rallied to a half-length finish over Dance With Fate. He finished third in his next two Grade 1 appearances—the Front Runner at Santa Anita Sept. 28 and the Cashcall Futurity at Hollywood Park Dec. 14. Not only does this son of Bertrando boast nine in-the-money finishes in 10 lifetime starts, seven of those starts were over all-weather surfaces, so he should relish Turfway’s Polytrack. North America’s winningest jockey Russell Baze comes to town for the mount.