Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: East Coast Division II

Kentucky Derby 2020 Scouting Report: East Coast Division II
Photo: Chelsea Durand/NYRA

The East Coast Division of the 2020 Kentucky Derby trail includes prep races which will be run into the spring in New York and Florida. That means a focus on horses at Aqueduct, Gulfstream Park, and Tampa Bay Downs.

Thus far, three official points races have been run: the Champagne (G1) won by Tiz the Law; Shotski's upset in the Remsen Stakes (G2); and Independence Hall's latest victory in the Jerome Stakes. All were worth 10 qualifying points to their winners.

Here’s a look at where the current contenders stand:

(Sire – Trainer – Owner - Derby points)

The Leader

Independence Hall
(Constitution – M. Trombetta – Eclipse Thoroughbreds, Twin Creeks Racing, Kathleen and Robert Verrati - 10) – Perfect in three starts, with the first coming in a maiden special weight at Parx, he romped to a 12 ¼-length victory in the Nashua (G3) at Aqueduct while earning a 101 Beyer Speed Figure, best of any 2-year-old in 2019. Then he picked up his first Derby points when winning the Jan. 1 Jerome at Aqueduct despite behaving badly in the paddock and pre-race. That effort registered an 84 Beyer. [current William Hill odds: 10-1]

First Tier

(Curlin – K. McLaughlin – Shadwell Stable - 5) One of the most experienced horses in this report with four starts, he broke his maiden at Belmont Park before running fourth in Keeneland's Breeders’ Futurity (G1). Most recently, he was second as a serious-looking closer in the Remsen. Ajaaweed resumed serious training with two published workouts at Palm Meadows Training Center and has options for his next Derby trail start. [current William Hill odds: 50-1]

Chance It (Currency Swap - S. Joseph Jr. – Shooting Stars Thoroughbred – 0) This Florida-bred has racked up four wins at Gulfstream Park, with his resume highlighted by the Jan. 4 victory against open company in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes. Those pair with two other stakes scores in the Florida Stallion Series. His next start is expected to be in the Holy Bull (G2) on February 1. [current William Hill odds: 40-1]

Green Light Go (Hard Spun – J. Jerkins – Stronach Stables - 4) The winner of his first two starts, including the Saratoga Special (G2), he suffered his first defeat in the Champagne. A particularly big colt, he shows four published works since the middle of December and is preparing for his 2020 debut in the Feb. 1 Swale (G3) at Gulfstream. [current William Hill odds: 75-1]

Tiz the Law (Constitution – B. Tagg – Sackatoga Stable -12) – The New York-bred was a $110,000 yearling purchase who won his Saratoga debut before taking the Champagne Stakes. Having bypassed the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, he had a less than ideal trip in Churchill Downs' Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) on his way to finishing third. Even after that disappointing result, he was still the favored 11-1 individual the same weekend in Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager. He's targeting the Holy Bull to open 2020. [current William Hill favorite with odds: 8-1*]

Shotski (Blame – J. O’Dwyer – Wachtel Stable, Gary Barber, Pantofel Stable, and Mike Carty - 10) The Maryland-based January foal broke his maiden at Laurel Park and then traveled to Churchill Downs to run fourth in a strong Street Sense Stakes. Trainer Jeremiah O’Dwyer weighed running in the Kentucky Jockey Club, but ultimately shipped to Aqueduct, where Shotski won the Remsen in front-running fashion. Since then, he shows four breezes and is expected to start next in the Feb. 1 Withers (G3) at Aqueduct. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Structor (Palace Malice – C. Brown – Jeff Drown, Don Rachel - 0) The Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf winner became a Derby hopeful immediately after the race when trainer Chad Brown mentioned his next start would come on dirt. Future Wager participants were on board, as he closed at odds of 24-1. The son of Palace Malice is 3-for-3 on the lawn but shows no recent timed works. [current William Hill odds: NA]

Second Tier

Chase Tracker
(Verrazano -T. Pletcher – St. Elias Stable - 2) He debuted with a victory at Parx Racing and followed that with two third-place finishes at Aqueduct in the Nashua and then the Remsen. In the Nashua, he faced the division leader Independence Hall. He returned to the work tab at the end of December and has two breezes at Palm Beach Downs in Florida. [current William Hill odds: NA]

Gouverneur Morris (Constitution – T. Pletcher – Team Valor and WinStar - 4) He had an eye-catching nine-length victory in his Saratoga debut for Pletcher as a heavily bet favorite. From there, he went to Keeneland to run second in the Breeders’ Futurity. As part of the first Future Wager pool, he closed at odds of 29-1. Gouverneur Morris is back in training with four official workouts since Dec. 29 at Todd Pletcher’s Palm Beach Downs base. [current William Hill odds: 30-1]

Liam’s Lucky Charm (Khozan – R. Nicks – Stonehedge LLC) – The 5 ½-length winner of the seven-furlong Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs has earned a start on the Kentucky Derby trail, says trainer Ralph Nicks. He also has a stakes win in the Florida Stallion Series and a third behind Chance It in one of those restricted state-bred stakes. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Meru (Sky Mesa – J. Duarte, Jr. – Colts Neck Stable - 0) – He was a winner of his first two races at Monmouth Park which included a stakes win that earned at 95 Beyer Speed Figure, third-highest for any 2-year-old in 2019. Stretched out to a mile in the Nashua at Aqueduct, he ran a distant second to Independence Hall. He has not returned to serious training since then. [current William Hill odds: 80-1]

Ny Traffic(Cross Traffic – S. Joseph Jr. – John Fanelli, Cash is King, and LC Racing - 0) After appearing in a couple of stakes races as a 2-year-old, this Saffie Joseph Jr. runner won an allowance race at Gulfstream Park by 6 ¾ lengths earlier this month. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Premier Star (Tapiture – J. Navarro – Sonata Stable) He's 2-for-2 at Gulfstream Park with trainer Jorge Navarro saying the colt will stretch out past the seven furlongs at which he won an allowance race. They'll stay in town for the Florida Derby with a race in between. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Prince of Pharoahs (American Pharoah - L. Rice – Darlene Bilinski and Harry Patten - 3) – Named after his sire, this one came back from an Oct. 13 maiden score at Belmont Park to finish second in a dead heat in his first start on the Derby trail in the Jerome. Although he could not keep up with Independence Hall, the two place horses were more than 11 lengths ahead of the rest of the field. [current William Hill odds: 75-1]

Soros (Commissioner – G. Delgado – OGMA Investments - 0) He debuted in November in Florida to run second in a maiden special weight and came back that same month to get his first victory in the Smooth Air Stakes going a mile at Gulfstream Park. Since that initial victory, Eclipse Thoroughbred Partners bought a majority interest, though he shows no timed works. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Three Technique (Mr Speaker - J. Englehart – August Dawn Farm - 0) Owned by Super Bowl-winning coach Bill Parcels, this colt needed three races to break his maiden at Saratoga. He got a few months off and came back to win an allowance at Aqueduct by more than four lengths. As part of Future Wager pool 1, he closed at odds of 39-1. [current William Hill odds: 35-1]

Ones to Watch

East coast 3-year-olds with impressive maiden victories who may appear in a Kentucky Derby prep race...

Caracaro (Uncle Mo - G. Delgado – Global Thoroughbreds and Top Racing LLC) In his second career start in a mile maiden special weight, he was a six-length winner as the favorite on Jan. 11 at Gulfstream Park. [current William Hill odds: 60-1]

Bellavia (Honor Code -T.Pletcher – Robert La Penta, Madakat Stables, Wonder Stables, Fred Rosen, and Gallo Stables) – Since he broke his maiden Oct. 23 at Belmont Park going first time for Pletcher, he has not returned to the work tab. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Glory Road (Commissioner – T. Pletcher – China Horse Club, WinStar Farm) – This Aug. 3 Saratoga debut winner shows one isolated published work in November at Palm Beach Downs. [current William Hill odds: 110-1]

Kingmeister (Bodemeister – M. Hennig – Courtland Farms) In his third career start at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 11, he was a maiden winner going a one-turn mile. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Silver Ratio (Liam’s Map – T. Pletcher – Paul Pompa Jr.) The $320,000 yearling purchase was a debut winner as the favorite at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 11. The half-length victory earned an 82 Beyer Speed Figure. [current William Hill odds: 125-1]

Sonneman (Curlin – M. Hennig - Courtland Farms and Arnold Zetcher) – The homebred son of Curlin has no registered workouts since he got his first victory at Belmont Park on Oct. 15. [current William Hill odds: 125-1]

Took Charge (Take Charge Indy - C. Englehart – Wachtel Stable) The debut winner of a maiden special weight at Belmont Park on June 14 returned to training and has three breezes at Fair Hill since December 21. [current William Hill odds: 125-1]

Untitled (Khozan – M. Casse – Gary Barber) A private purchase by the dynamic team of Mark Casse and Gary Barber after his 11-length maiden score at Gulfstream Park against Florida-breds. He may make his next start in the Swale. [current William Hill odds: 100-1]

Violent City (Violence – I. Wilkes – Lothenbach Stables) On Jan. 11, he was a first-time winner by four-lengths at Gulfstream Park going six-furlongs. [current William Hill odds: 125-1]

War Stopper (Declaration of War – R. Rodriguez – Salermo Stables) This maiden winner at Aqueduct beat a nice Kentucky shipper when he won going a mile and earning a 94 Beyer. Connections are considering a start on the Derby trail in the Withers (G3). [current William Hill odds: 60-1]

Remaining East Coast Division Preps

• Withers (G3) – Aqueduct – February 1 [10-4-2-1]

• Holy Bull (G2) – Gulfstream Park – February 1 [10-4-2-1]

• Sam F Davis (G3) – Tampa Bay Downs – February 8 [10-4-2-1]

• Fountain of Youth (G2) – Gulfstream Park – February 29 [50-20-10-5]

• Gotham (G3) – Aqueduct – March 7 [50-20-10-5]

• Tampa Bay Derby (G2) – Tampa Bay Downs - March 7 [50-20-10-5]

• Florida Derby (G1) – Gulfstream Park – March 28 [100-40-20-10]

• Wood Memorial (G2) – Aqueduct – April 4 [100-40-20-10]

Meet Matt Shifman

Matt Shifman has been on the Horse Racing Nation staff since 2011 and currently serves as Assistant Editor. Matt covers Aqueduct, Belmont Park, Monmouth Park, and Saratoga in his two HRN blogs, Racing at the Jersey Shore and New York State of Racing.

Since 2012, Matt has been a voter in the NTRA weekly polls for the Top Thoroughbred and Top Three-Year-Old.

Recently, Matt helped launch Derby Day Racing, a new 2-year-old racing partnership, that just purchased a promising Lookin At Lucky filly named Sooner Schooner.

You may also know Matt by his Twitter, Facebook, and HRN screen nameAndyScoggin.

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