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The Derby Trail: Three Year Old Graded Earnings

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: Jockey Calvin Borel atop Mine That Bird crosses the finish line to win the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 02: Jockey Calvin Borel atop Mine That Bird crosses the finish line to win the 135th running of the Kentucky Derby on May 2, 2009 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

Less than two months to go until Kentucky Derby 136 which means it's probably a good time to start looking at the graded earnings list to see who looks good, and who's got some work to do to make it to Louisville.  A horse far down the current earnings list isn't without hope given the big purses up for grabs in the Florida Derby, Santa Anita Derby, Arkansas Derby, Wood Memorial, Illinois Derby, and Blue Grass Stakes.  At the same time, it's much easier to make it to Louisville if you have a little cash in the bank as opposed to being in a position where you have to win to get in.

The top 50 three year olds ranked by graded earnings are summarized below along with my thoughts.

  • All three of the fillies, She Be Wild, Blind Luck, and Crisp are unlikely to run in the Derby and can essentially be taken out of the equation even though they are nominated to the Triple Crown and, therefore, eligible to enter.
  • Lookin At Lucky, Vale of York (IRE), Noble's Promise, and Rule probably have enough right now to make it into the Derby with adding another cent to their totals.  Last year horses drew into the Derby with as little as $100,000 in graded earnings.
  • I haven't read anything about Beethoven (IRE) in a while and I don't think his connections are attempting to point him towards the Derby.  We'll see if any news pops up.  By the way, if you are thinking, "wasn't Beethoven a three year old last year?" you are both right and wrong.  There was a three year old named Beethoven on the Derby trail last year but that Beethoven is different than this Beethoven (IRE) because that Beethoven didn't have the little "(IRE)" after his name.  He was American and won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club.  This one comes from Europe.
  • D'Funnybone, Discreetly Mine, Homeboykris, Dublin, Interactif, and probably Aikenite look pretty good right now on the earnings side.  
  • LeComte winner Ron the Greek ($63,000) has some work to do and will need to hit the board in the Louisiana Derby and possibly another race to make his spot more secure.
  • San Vicente runner-up, Dave in Dixie, isn't even in the Top 50 right now.  He's probably got two more starts in him, including the Santa Anita Derby, to pick up the couple hundred thousand he'll need to draw in.
  • He may have blown away the Fountain of Youth, but Eskendereya can't afford to rest on his laurels with only $150,000 in graded earnings.  If he keeps to his form he should be fine with big the big money races, but unlike the horses at the top, he has no room for error.
  • Awesome Act, thanks in part to his victory in the Gotham, looks to be in good shape heading towards the Grade 1 Wood Memorial, so long as he doesn't flop.
  • Speaking of "flop", how much did Buddy's Saint's disastrous Fountain of Youth hurt?  He's now at 18 (tied with Awesome Act) and probably has enough to get in but I sure wouldn't bet on it.  He needs a good run in his next start or it could be all over for a colt that was at the top of many Derby lists early this spring (including mine).
  • I know some people have thrown around the name of Barbaro's brother, Lentenor, in their Derby talk, but this list should illustrate nicely that this colt has almost zero chance at making the starting gate in Louisville.  He'd essentially have to show up and win the Florida Derby off of a single maiden victory to jump into the picture.  And while he's a nice horse, I don't know if he's that nice.  Hopefully trainer Michael Matz will let this colt progresses slowly instead of rushing him to the Derby just because a bunch of talking heads would like to see him there.  (/rant)
  • How important are those juvenile graded earnings?  There are several horses in here that would be dead in the water if they hadn't racked up some nice dollars during their two year old season (Buddy's Saint being one of them).

Rank

Horse

Graded Purse Earnings

1

She Be Wild (filly)

1,272,100

2

Lookin At Lucky

1,210,000

3

Vale of York (IRE)

1,114,784

4

Blind Luck (filly)

861,150

5

Noble's Promise

648,000

6

Rule

570,000

7

Beethoven (IRE)

342,616

8

D' Funnybone

330,000

9

Discreetly Mine

310,000

10

Homeboykris

250,500

11

Devil May Care

244,000

12

Dublin

243,208

13

Interactif

240,450

14

Crisp (filly)

225,000

15

Aikenite

218,000

16

Make Music for Me

215,000

17

Awesome Act

210,000


Buddy's Saint

210,000


Conveyance

210,000

20

Radiohead (GB)

196,332

21

Uh Oh Bango

172,952

22

Backtalk

172,566

23

Piscitelli (Injured)

151,170

24

Eskendereya

150,000

25

Super Saver

133,832

26

Paddy O'Prado

100,950

27

Aspire

100,000

28

Thiskyhasnolimit

99,064

29

Sidney's Candy

90,000


Alphie's Bet

90,000


Connemara

90,000


Caracortado

90,000

33

Jackson Bend

80,000

34

American Lion

78,000

35

The Program

68,000

36

Ailalea

66,900

37

Pulsion

65,000

38

Ron the Greek

63,000

39

Tempted to Tapit

60,000


Who's Up

60,000

41

William's Kitten

58,901

42

Fly by Phil

58,280

43

Smiling Tiger

54,000

44

Roman Invasion

50,000

45

Marcello

50,000


Frozen Power (IRE)

50,000

47

Switch

48,000

48

Litigation Risk

45,000


Cardiff Giant

45,000

50

Peppi Knows

41,000