By Dick Downey
With the most recent update of the Kentucky Derby graded earnings chart yesterday, it's hard to ignore the number of foreign-based horses still listed in the top 50. Here's what we've learned about them.
First of all, based on what we know, we can't rule any of these horses out of consideration for the Kentucky Derby.
One, they're still on Churchill Downs' official graded earnings list. Two, they are all nominated to the Triple Crown. Three, the track has deleted certain high-profile nominated horses from the earnings list, such as Excaper, second in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf last November.
Except for one, all of the runners under scrutiny here are based in Europe.
None of them have raced this year, which isn't all that unusual, especially for the Europeans, but if their connections have serious Derby aspirations, something needs to happen soon. For example, Master of Hounds, who was fifth in the 2011 Kentucky Derby for trainer Aiden O'Brien, made his 2011 debut in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby in late March.
Wrote, from the O'Brien barn, sits atop the list of foreign-based runners nominated to the Triple Crown with $556,630 in graded earnings. He hasn't competed since winning the Juvenile Turf.
In mid-February, website BetAsia.com had a piece that said, "Even though the Ballydoyle trainer sent over Master of Hounds to finish fifth last year, he has gone on record saying that Wrote could be saved for the European Classics, such as the Irish 2000 Guineas." Note the usage of the word "could." No one outside the inner circle knows anything for sure yet, and the inner circle may not have decided anything.
Wrote is eligible for the Epsom Derby but odds on him aren't listed for the race at SkyBet. He is listed for the Epsom at BetFair, owner of TVG, but they have him at 94-1. BetFair has Wrote at 25-1 for the Kentucky Derby. Wrote is also listed for the Kentucky Derby at bet365, Ladbrokes and StanJames.com at odds ranging from 14-1 to 20-1, but he's not listed for the Kentucky Derby at Coral.
Wrote's stable mate, Daddy Long Legs, has $94,030 in graded money. He hasn't raced since checking in twelfth in the Grade I Breeders' Cup Juvenile. He's listed at 33-1 for the June 2 Epsom Derby at SkyBet. BetFair, which offers a whole host of runners, including some that are off the Kentucky Derby Trial such as Algorithms, doesn't list Daddy Long Legs for the Kentucky Derby.
Red Duke, another European-based horse, hasn't raced since Oct. 8, when he finished eighth in the Group 1 Dewhurst Stakes for trainer John Quinn. He has $90,823 in graded earnings. Not listed at BetFair.
Zip Top, a Godolphin horse, is 33-1 for the June 2 Epsom Derby at SkyBet. He's not listed for the Kentucky Derby at BetFair. Zip Top has $85,244 in graded money. He hasn't raced since Oct. 22; he finished second that day in the Group 1 Racing Post Trophy. It's interesting to note that he didn't compete in either the Group 3 U.A.E. 2000 Guineas or the Al Bastakiya.
Genten, a Japanese-based horse trained by Yoshito Yahagi, has $123,826 in graded stakes earnings earned when third in a Group 2 at Kyoto last October. He hasn't competed since November, but Genten is reportedly part of a contingent of six from Japan headed to Dubai and will compete in the Group 2 U.A.E. Derby on Dubai World Cup day.
Most Improved, with $53,080 in graded money, was third in the Dewhurst, and that was also his most recent start.