The Road to the Kentucky Derby resumes on Saturday with two qualifying races scheduled, with this weekend seeing the end of the Prep Series races and the beginning of the Championship Series.
The former series of races predominantly offers points on a 10-4-2-1 scale, while the first Championship Series races carry point values of 50-20-10-5.
Saturday's Prep Series race is the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in Berkeley, California. The 1 1/8-mile race is contested on a synthetic surface and offers a purse of $100,000.
It's one of the few early prep races longer than 1 1/16 miles, offering horses an opportunity to run at a distance closer to what they will see at the Kentucky Derby.
In addition to the 10 qualifying points, the winner will also receive free entry into the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico Race Course, the second jewel in the Triple Crown. The El Camino Real is the eighth of nine races, and post time is 4:15pm PT.
The nine-horse field is expected to include two horses that have already collected Road to the Kentucky Derby points. Rombauer has an overall record of 4-1-1-0 (four starts, one first-place finish, one second-place finish and no third-place finishes), while he has picked up four qualifying points.
The win was in his first career race, while he finished runner-up to Get Her Number in the Derby prep American Pharoah Stakes at Santa Anita on September 26. Rombauer's last start was a fifth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on November 6, which was won by points frontrunner Essential Quality.
The other horse that has accumulated points is Waspirant, with a record of 4-1-0-0. He accumulated one qualifying point each when finishing fourth in the American Pharoah on September 26 and fourth in the Sham Stakes won by Life is Good at Santa Anita on January 2.
Will Mandaloun be a Risen Star?
At the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in New Orleans, a strong 11-horse field will be racing for $400,000 and a 50-20-10-5 points split. It's the final race of 13 on the card and is also 1 1/8 miles.
Keepmeinmind, second in qualifying points with 18 behind Essential Quality's 30, was the early favorite but will skip the race and run in the Southwest on February 20 at Oaklawn Park instead.
That moves Mandaloun (3-2-0-1) into the favorite spot with early odds of 9/2, but that was prior to Keepmeinmind's scratch. In his last start, Mandaloun picked up two points for a third-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes on January 16, also at the Fair Grounds.
Midnight Bourbon (5-2-1-2) was the winner of the Lecomte in his last outing and has picked up 16 points, meaning he is currently in third place in the standings. This is the fourth Prep Series race for Midnight Bourbon, and he has second- and third-place finishes in addition to the win.
In his last race, the prep Springboard Mile at Remington Park on December 18, Senor Buscador (2-2-0-0) crossed the finish line in first place but wasn't eligible for Derby points because he was running on Lasix. The colt will forego that medication for this race, and it remains to be seen if it will affect his great closing speed.