At the beginning of the last day of qualifying for the Kentucky Derby Saturday, there were a lot of possibilities for a number of horses to get into the mix, but few could have anticipated what actually happened.
Surprises abounded in the 20-8-4-2 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland and the 100-40-20-10 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park that had significant impacts on the final points standings.
Lexington Stakes recap
Proxy began the day with 34 points and was looking for a first- or second-place finish to secure a spot in the Kentucky Derby.
With 20 points, Hockey Dad had an outside chance to get in the Derby hunt, but he needed a win for that to happen.
Four horses were tied at 40 points, and it was likely that a number of top finishers in the day's two races would move ahead of that number.
Along with Swiftsure, Proxy was one of the favourites and was expected to easily get into the top two positions.
It didn't happen that way, with Proxy struggling early from the seventh post position, having to battle from near the back of the 10-horse field to eventually finish fourth.
Hockey Dad fared even worse, never making any kind of challenge and ending up in eighth place.
King Fury was an 18/1 longshot and trailed early but took control at the head of the stretch and won by 2¾ lengths over 20/1 shot Unbridled Honor.
Neither horse was in a position to benefit from the Kentucky Derby qualifying points, with third-place 8/1 Starrininmydreams in the same situation.
A surprise in the $1million Arkansas Derby
With an estimated 18,000 fans in attendance, the atmosphere was electric, although not quite like it has been in the past when 60,000 race patrons flooded the Hot Springs, Arkansas, venue.
Concert Tour, the winner of the 50-20-10-5 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn a month ago, was an overwhelming odds-on favourite at 2/7.
The Bob Baffert-trained horse already had 50 points and was comfortably ensured of gaining an invitation to the Kentucky Derby.
However, there were a number of others in the six-horse field that still had a chance to earn enough points to qualify for the first race in the Triple Crown.
One of those was Caddo River, the favourite in the Rebel who ended up getting shut out of the points after a fifth-place finish.
He needed to win or finish in second place to secure an invitation, as did Super Stock and Get Here Number.
Another Baffert entry, Hozier, had 20 points from a second-place finish in the Rebel and just needed to finish third or better to get to Churchill Downs.
What transpired wasn't the worst possible outcome for the Hall of Fame trainer, but it was close.
Steve Asmussen's Super Stock went off at 12/1 and came home the winner, grabbing the 100 qualifying points and gaining entry into the Kentucky Derby.
Caddo River achieved what he couldn't in the Rebel, with the Brad Cox-trained colt coming home in second place and running his point total to 50.
Concert Tour managed a third-place finish, but Hozier was off the pace from the beginning and finished in last place.
It resulted in Super Stock and Caddo River joining Concert Tour from the Arkansas Derby in the Kentucky Derby field.