Although it's too early to rank horses by the Road to the Kentucky Derby points standings, the odds take into consideration past and expected performances. Currently, there are at least eight horses at the top of the odds listings that are worth examining as the Championship Series of races get underway.
In part one Planet Sport will take a look at the four all currently at 12/1, and the rest in part two.
Life is Good
Life is Good has a Triple Crown-winning trainer and jockey combination in Bob Baffert and Mike E. Smith. The duo paired up to deliver the 13th horse to sweep the Derby, the Preakness, and the Belmont Stakes in 2018 with Justify, the first winner that didn't race as a two-year-old.
With only one start in 2020, Life is Good is being prepared in a similar manner. He was a winner in a maiden race at Del Mar in November, then followed it up with a victory at the Derby prep Sham Stakes at Santa Anita to pick up 10 qualifying points.
He'll race next at the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita on March 6.
No matter what source is referenced, Essential Quality is in the conversation as one of the top favorites for the Triple Crown. The Brad Cox-trained colt is undefeated in three career races, including a pair of Derby preps.
His 30 points place him in second place, and he will next hit the track at next week's Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn. A win would put him very close to wrapping up a Kentucky Derby invitation, with anything around or over 40 points usually enough to qualify.
Two horses that will collide in the March 13 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn are Caddo River and Concert Tour. Caddo River is another Cox entry who won on January 22 at the Smarty Jones Stakes and also at Oaklawn for his second victory along with a pair of runner-up finishes.
He's ridden by Florent Geroux, who is also the jockey for Mandaloun, the only horse so far to lock up a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
Concert Tour is another horse trained by Baffert and is also undefeated in two starts, both as a 3-year-old. His last race was a win in the Grade 2 $200,000 San Vincente Stakes at Santa Anita on February 2.
The race isn't on the Prep series, so no points were on the line, but that will change at the Rebel, which will award on a 50-20-10-5 scale.