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The juvenile road to Kentucky Derby 2021 ended with the Los Alamitos Futurity on Dec. 19, and Bob Baffert’s $1 million purchase Spielberg scored by a whisker. The newly turned 3-year-olds wasted no time as Capo Kane delivered an easy front running jaunt in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct on New Year’s Day, and Life Is Good gave Baffert another Derby trail triumph in the Sham Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park on Jan. 2.

Kentucky Derby 2021 Points Race Recaps

Remsen Stakes (G2)
Aqueduct (12-5-20)

The final time was solid but I do not know what to make of this nine furlong affair on a wet track. There was separation in this 5-horse affair, and that is not surprising given the sloppy conditions. Ten for Ten controlled the pace and Brooklyn Strong stalked outside. The latter kept grinding away and gradually wore down the longtime leader to score by a hard fought neck. Known Agenda was a clear, distant 3rd. The latter never looked comfortable stalking inside and probably deserves another chance on fast footing. Ten for Ten seems to enjoy wet surfaces and winner Brooklyn Strong is a better than average New York-bred.

Springboard Mile
Remington Park (12-18-20)

Senor Buscador broke slow and blasted home in a last-to-first victory by almost six lengths over my top choice Cowan. The latter stretched out, returned to dirt, and was clearly second best. Post time favorite Outadore pressed the issue and retreated to 5th. Both of his wins were in turf sprints. The winner looked good but raced on lasix and did not earn any Derby points. Only horses racing without lasix can earn points in these Derby preps. Cowan picked up four Derby points and was the only points earner in this contest.

Los Alamitos Futurity (G2)
Los Alamitos Race Course (12-19-20)

The California juveniles have been slow all year with the exception of Life Is Good, and this race was par for the course. How bad was this affair? Bob Baffert’s $1 million underachiever just got up to defeat maiden The Great One by a nose. The latter failed to crack the top three in his three maiden starts, and third place finisher Petruchio broke his maiden on turf in his fourth lifetime start Oct. 31. Beaten overbet favorite Red Flag was exiting a romping victory in the Bob Hope Stakes (G3), but that was a slow race as well. As for Spielberg, this was his sixth start and second win, and he barely beat a mediocre cast.

Jerome Stakes
Aqueduct (1-1-21)

A 5-horse one-turn mile in the mud and the final time was slow. Swill was the favorite and expected pace carver, but he did not have the greatest start, and that allowed Capo Kane to scoot right to the front from the inside post, and this race was basically over almost as soon as it started. Capo Kane was never headed and pulled well clear to score by 6-1/4 lengths under Dylan Davis. Eagle Orb stalked outside and was second best, and Hold the Salsa grabbed 3rd by a nose over fading pace presser Swill. Original could not keep pace and was eased in the lane.

Sham Stakes (G3)
Santa Anita Park (1-2-21)

Life Is Good dominated for much of the running, but was drifting out and goofing around in the lane, and safely held on by 3/4ths of a length over his stablemate Medina Spirit. It was 13-lengths back to show finisher Parnelli, and he was 6+ in front of Waspirant and Uncle Boogie. If you are leaping ahead to the Kentucky Derby, this was not the effort you were looking for. Life Is Good is still green and has the look of a miler and I was definitely less than wowed. He is still lightly raced and promising and remains a work in progress. Authentic was goofy early in his career as well, and Baffert did a great job with him in late summer/fall of 2020. Medina Spirit ran an excellent race in his second career start and can also continue to develop for Baffert. The West Coast horses are not as professional as the other top Derby hopefuls at this very early stage.


Kentucky Derby Points Leaders (thru Sham Stakes 1-2-21)

30 Points: Essential Quality

18 Points: Keepmeinmind

12 Points: Jackie’s Warrior, Spielberg

10 Points: Brooklyn Strong, Capo Kane, Get Her Number, Life Is Good, Sittin On Go

8 Points: Hot Rod Charlie

6 Points: Midnight Bourbon

4 Points: Cowan, Eagle Orb, Medina Spirit, Reinvestment Risk, Rombauer, Smiley Sobotka, Super Stock, Ten for Ten, The Great One

2 Points: Arabian Prince, Hold the Salsa, Known Agenda, Parnelli, Pretuchio, Swill, Waspirant

1 Point: Civil War, Pickin’ Time, Red Flag, Therideofalifetime, Upstriker


Upcoming Derby 2021 Points Races

Lecomte (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 16
Smarty Jones (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 22
Robert B. Lewis (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 30
Holy Bull (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 30
Withers (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 6
Sam F. Davis (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 6
John Battaglia Memorial (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 6
El Camino Real Derby (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 13
Risen Star (50-20-10-5) – Feb. 13
Southwest (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 15
Fountain of Youth (50-20-10-5) – Feb. 27
Gotham (50-20-10-5) – March 6
Tampa Bay Derby (50-20-10-5) – March 6
San Felipe (50-20-10-5) – March 6
Rebel (50-20-10-5) – March 13
Jeff Ruby Steaks (20-8-4-2) – March 20
LA Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 20
Florida Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 27
UAE Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 27
Sunland Derby (50-20-10-5) – March 28
Blue Grass (100-40-20-10) – April 3
SA Derby (100-40-20-10) – April 3
Wood Memorial (100-40-20-10) –
Arkansas Derby (100-40-20-10) – April 10
Lexington (20-8-4-2) – April 10

Jarrod Horak

Jarrod Horak posts stakes recaps from Del Mar and Santa Anita Park, along with full card recaps and free stakes picks from Southern and/or Northern California.