All of the prep races for the Kentucky Derby are complete and there are no more points to hand out to horses hoping to qualify for the first race of the Triple Crown. The Derby field is limited to 20 horses and invitations are granted based on points accumulated during the Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying races.
If horses are tied in points, the tiebreaker is non-restricted stakes earnings. The top 19 or 20 horses in the standings earn invitations, with the number determined by whether a European or Japanese qualifier gets into the field.
Only horses nominated for the Triple Crown series are eligible for invitations through the point system, which disqualifies any that earned points but are otherwise ineligible.
According to the Kentucky Derby website, Crowded Trade is listed as the 19th place horse with $135,000 of earnings.
The 20th place horse is currently Sainthood, who is tied with four other horses (including Crowded Trade) on 40 points due to his lower career earnings of $47,000. Finally, the 21st place horse is Proxy, who was able to nudge past Rombauer with a fourth-place finish in Saturday's 20-8-4-2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland.
Will horses scratch?
Traditionally, not all of the horses that earn enough points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby end up starting in the Run for the Roses on the first Saturday in May. Invariably, injuries or other circumstances result in horses being pulled from the race.
Already, trainer Bob Baffert's Life Is Good suffered an injury after winning the San Felipe Stakes and earning 50 points, plenty for a Derby invitation. He was an early withdrawal and isn't included in the current 20-horse list of qualifiers.
Gotham Stakes winner and fourth place Wood Memorial finisher Weyburn is not expected to enter the Kentucky Derby either. His connections were less than pleased with his Wood performance and instead are considering running him in the Belmont Stakes on June 5.
Weyburn's withdrawal would make it more likely for Proxy to gain entry, but at this point, the colt trained by Michael Stidham is clearly on the bubble. However, it's likely for at least one other horse to be pulled from the Derby field, so look for Proxy to be at Churchill Downs on May 1.
Top of the list
With the injury to Life Is Good, Essential Quality is the clear frontrunner for favorite status, not just for the Kentucky Derby but also for the Triple Crown. One of three Brad Cox trained horses headed to Louisville, Essential Quality is the only horse to win multiple races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
His four wins, the latest the 100-40-20-10 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, separate him from the rest of the Triple Crown hopefuls. In fact, with the exception of Midnight Bourbon, Medina Spirit and Highly Motivated, the rest of the horses near the top of the standings didn't even have multiple top-three finishes.