Undefeated Uncle Mo tops the graded stakes earnings list for 3-year-olds that will likely determine the participants in the field for the 137th running of the $2 million Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) on Saturday, May 7.
The Kentucky Derby field has been limited to 20 starters since 1975, and earnings accumulated in graded stakes races have determined the field for the 1 ¼-mile classic since 1986.
According to the communications department at Churchill Downs, 62North American graded stakes events for the 2-year-olds of 2010 and this year’s 3-year-olds have been run – 35 for colts and geldings or open company and another 27 for fillies. Uncle Mo, the champion 2-year-old male of 2010 campaigned by Mike Repole, heads the early list with $1.26 million in graded earnings. Uncle Mo posted a convincing 4 ¼-length triumph in the Grey Goose Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (gr. I) at Churchill Downs after running away from the field to win the Champagne (gr. I) at Belmont Park by 4 ¾ lengths. He also won his August debut at Saratoga by 14 ¼ lengths.
Uncle Mo, a bay son of Indian Charlie bred by Dr. D. Michael Cavey of Respite Farm in Paris, Ky., breezed four furlongs Feb. 13 in :47.45 – his third workout of the year. Trainer Todd Pletcher, who captured his first Kentucky Derby last year with Super Saver, has said Uncle Mo is likely to launch his 3-year-old campaign in the grade II, $300,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 12. The 1 1/16-mile race would likely serve as a steppingstone to Aqueduct’s grade I, $750,000 Wood Memorial at 1 1/8 miles on April 9 – four weeks in advance of Kentucky Derby 137.
In addition to Uncle Mo, the first graded stakes earnings top 20 list includes Gourmet Dinner ($700,000), Boys At Tosconova ($532,060), J P's Gusto ($490,000), Comma to the Top ($456,000), the filly Turbulent Descent ($295,550), Soldat ($270,000), Rogue Romance ($258,000), Dialed In ($240,000), Clubhouse Ride ($210,000), To Honor and Serve ($210,000), Decisive Moment ($200,000), Jaycito ($200,000), Santiva ($180,254), Anthony's Cross ($162,000), Riveting Reason ($147,500), Blue Laser ($143,502), Willcox Inn ($139,000), Silver Medallion ($124,334), Brethren ($120,000) and Sweet Ducky ($120,000).
Boys At Tosconova, the runner-up to Uncle Mo in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, has reportedly been taken out of training and is off the Kentucky Derby trail.
The initial graded stakes earningslist includes all 3-year-olds – colts, geldings and fillies – who were made eligible to this year’s Triple Crown at $600 per horse when the early nomination period closed Jan. 22. Of the 364 early nominees, 68 have earned graded stakes money thus far, but 26 open company races remain to be run, plus another 17 for fillies. There also will be a late period for nominations at $6,000 each that will close on Saturday, March 26.
Graded stakes are considered graded or group status assigned to the race by the International Cataloguing Standards Committee in Part I of the International Cataloguing Standards as published by The Jockey Club Information Systems, Inc. each year.
In the case of a tie for the final entry position or the determination of all remaining starters, preference is given to horses that accumulated the highest earnings in non-restricted stakes races. If a tie still remains, the final spots in the starting gate will be determined by lot or a "shake." There is no "also-eligible" list.
Twenty horses have entered the Derby every year since 2004, and 10 of the last 12 years. The 20tth and final spot in the starting gate has varied year to year. Last year, it took a record $218,750 in graded earnings for eventual fourth-place finisher Make Music for Me to make the field. In 2009, it took only $55,500 for Nowhere to Hide to complete the 20-horse lineup. Over the last five years, the final horse to make the field has earned an average of $130,450 in graded stakes races.
In addition to Triple Crown nomination fee, owners must pay $25,000 to enter the Kentucky Derby by 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, May 4, and an additional $25,000 to start. If there are less than 20 Triple Crown nominees entered, a horse may be supplemented to the Derby for $200,000.
The Kentucky Derby post position draw will be held at Churchill Downs on Wednesday, May 4, at 12 p.m. ET.
The winner of the Kentucky Derby will receive a gold trophy plus an estimated $1.24 million payday. A total of $400,000 will be awarded to the runner-up, $200,000 to third, $100,000 to fourth and $60,000 to fifth.
The 1 ¼-mile Derby is the first leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown series, which also includes the May 21 Preakness Stakes (gr. I) near Baltimore at Pimlico Race Course at 1 3/16 miles and the June Belmont Stakes (gr. I)-- the 1 ½-mile "Test of the Champion"--at New York’s Belmont Park.
The Triple Crown has been won by 11 horses--Sir Barton (1919), Gallant Fox (1930), Omaha (1935), War Admiral (1937), Whirlaway (1941), Count Fleet (1942), Assault (1946), Citation (1948), Secretariat (1973), Seattle Slew (1977) and Affirmed (1978). Fifty others have finished one win shy of the honor.