Pam and Martin Wygod's Modernist, trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott and piloted by jockey Junior Alvarado, earned 50 Kentucky Derby 2020 qualifying points and an 84 Beyer Speed Figure with a prominent score in Saturday's second division of the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds.
Alvarado, fresh off winning the Risen Star in the Fair Grounds nightcap, was back at the Big A for Sunday's opener, again riding a Mott trainee. Going back to Saturday, Alvarado said he followed the Hall of Fame trainer's instructions to the letter.
The dark bay son of Uncle Mo graduated Jan. 25 with a gate-to-wire score in a nine-furlong maiden event and was similarly placed on Saturday exiting the inside post in an 11-horse field.
"Bill said to take advantage of the one hole and use him out of there, so we'll know how fast and how close up he wants to be," Alvarado said. "He got to a good spot and fought hard the whole way. When he won with me here at Aqueduct, he broke very sharp as well.
"...Modernist showed great ability...He put me in a good spot and fought hard all the way to the wire."
Modernist is in line to be Alvarado's fourth Kentucky Derby mount after he previously rode Tax (14th, 2019), Enticed (14th, 2018) and Mohaymen (4th, 2016) on the first Saturday in May.
"I'm hoping the fourth time will be the charm for me. I'm very excited," said Alvarado.
Modernist is likely to make his next start in the March 21 Louisiana Derby (G2) back at Fair Grounds. The 1 3/16-mile test offers qualifying points on a 100-40-20-10 basis to the top-four finishers.
Looking forward, Alvarado said Modernist has the potential to be a solid Derby contender.
"I think he already is...We have the points, but there's still a lot for him to learn," the jockey said. "His body is there already, but mind-wise he just needs to concentrate a little more in the first part of the race and he can become a great horse."
The well-bred Modernist's second dam is Sweet Life, who was named Kentucky's 2009 Broodmare of the Year having produced Grade 1-winning millionaires Life is Sweet and Sweet Catomine.
Kentucky Derby weekend could prove to be a special one for Alvarado, who is also the regular pilot of a pair of Mott-trained Kentucky Oaks contenders, including Godolphin homebred Lake Avenue, who won the Demoiselle (G2) in December at Aqueduct, and Harvey's Lil Goil, who won the Busanda earlier this month for the Estate of Harvey Clarke and Paul Braverman.