Doing the Graded Stakes Shuffle; New Contenders Join List

When the final weekend of prep races for the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) was over, some new players had joined the list of contenders based on earnings in graded stakes.

An upset in the Lexington Stakes (gr. II) at Keeneland resulted in Slew’s Tizzy being added to the list of Derby contenders, although his owner, Joseph LaCombe, and trainer Greg Fox remained non-committal immediately after the race. With graded earnings of $207,500, Slew’s Tizzy now ranks 13th on the list of graded earnings for Derby contenders.

Graded earnings are used to determine the 20-horse starting field for the Derby should more than that numbered be entered. In the case of a tie for 20th on the graded earnings list, earnings in non-graded races are used as the criteria.

The weekend also produced a Derby contender in Xchanger, who did not add to his graded earnings total of $202,890 (15th on the list). However, his victory in the Federico Tesio Stakes at Pimlico resulted in him being added to the list of contenders maintained by Churchill Downs. His connections also were immediately non-committal.

Those additions have resulted in Chelokee, who has graded earnings of $100,000, being bumped down to 23rd on Churchill Downs’ list. Third in the Florida Derby (gr. I), Chelokee is trained by Michael Matz, who saddled the ill-fated Barbaro to win the 2006 Derby.