With less than two months to 141st Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs on May 2, contenders this year will include Dortmund, American Pharoah and Upstart. Could one of these 3-year-olds finally break the 37-year drought of a Triple Crown? California Chrome was close but didn’t have enough to beat Tonalist in the mile-and-a-half Belmont Stakes in New York. Dortmund is proving he is the best Derby contender after dominating the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita and earning 50 points. Here are CBSLA’s Top 5 Derby contenders as of March 12.
Son of the 2008 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Champion, Dortmund is our early top choice for the 141st run for the roses. After a dominant performance in the San Felipe Stakes, Dortmund continues his unbeaten streak in his last five starts. With 75 points, Dortmund doesn’t need to finish in the top three in the Santa Anita to make the Kentucky Derby. He has enough points. His performance in the Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita on Feb. 7 is something you don’t see in a 3-year-old. He was passed late by another Derby hopeful, Firing Line, then rallied to earn 10 points toward the Derby. Not only has the chestnut colt performed maturely but also looks like a beast. His muscle definition is outrageous for youngster. Next race is the Santa Anita Derby. It will be the last race before heading to Kentucky.
2. Upstart trained by Rick Violette Jr. 36 Points
Upstart will remain in the second position even though he was disqualified after finishing first in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. The 2-year-old also dominated the Holy Bull Stakes on Jan. 24 at Gulfstream Park. Trained by Richard A. Violette Jr., the Dark Bay colt has four graded stakes races, finishing all in the top three. He seems to get better as the distance increases. Next race is either the Florida Derby or Wood Memorial. 36 points should be more than enough to qualify for the Derby.
It could be a matter of time until Firing Line finally beats Dortmund. His racing experience is getting better with the help of Dortmund. In his past two races, he’s lost by a nose to the top-ranked Derby prospect. This horse knows how to compete, grind and not give up. It may be time to give him some competition other than Dortmund before the Kentucky Derby. Trainer Simon Callaghan is aiming for the Sunland Derby in New Mexico on March 22, which is worth 50 points. He needs to finish at least second at Sunland to lock up a spot for the Kentucky Derby.
American Pharoah is finally going to make his 2015 debut Saturday in the Rebel Stakes. Last year’s 2-year-old of the year could punch his ticket to the derby with a 50-point win in the Rebel Stakes. He is the morning line favorite at 1-2 after coming out of after a five-month layover with an injured leg he sustained at the Breeders’ Cup. If he wins the Rebel, Baffert might aim straight for the Kentucky Derby. He worked 6 furlongs in a fast 1:10.40 at Santa Anita on March 6.
5. Carpe Diem trained by Todd Pletcher 64 Points
Like Dortmund and Upstart, Carpe Diem is a lock to the Kentucky Derby if he stays healthy and runs at least decent in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keenland. He won convincingly the Tampa Bay Derby even though the time wasn’t fast. Carpe Diem is Todd Pletcher’s best shot of winning the Derby. He is currently 10-1 in winning the Kentucky Derby.