Sunday’s $200,000 Ellis Park Derby is the penultimate scoring opportunity for Kentucky Derby (G1) hopefuls, with only the Aug. 16 Pegasus Stakes remaining on the schedule. Thus an overflow field of 13 has signed on for the 1 1/8-mile affair at Ellis Park, led by Blue Grass (G2) hero Art Collector.
The 4-5 favorite, Art Collector is one of four entrants – along with Shared Sense, Dean Martini, and Anneau d’Or – who are listed as individual interests in Pool 7 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager that runs Friday through Sunday. Bettors won’t have a chance to absorb the action at Ellis Park, however, before Pool 7 closes at 6 p.m. (ET). Post time for the Ellis Park Derby, the 10TH and final race on the card, is 10 minutes later.
Art Collector’s 100-point windfall from the Blue Grass makes his appearance at Ellis more of a judgment call than a necessity, and trainer Tom Drury has made it clear that the objective is bridge-building to Louisville. Drawn in post 4 with regular rider Brian Hernandez, the Bruce Lunsford homebred figures to work out a trip in search of his fourth straight win.
The Ellis Park Derby’s 50-20-10-5 points structure holds greater relevance for his rivals.
Anneau d’Or enters with 32 points, currently 18th on the leaderboard, after his latest fourth in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). The California shipper hasn’t progressed since his near-misses in last year’s Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) and Los Alamitos Futurity (G2), and trainer Blaine Wright skipped the Aug. 1 Shared Belief at Del Mar in hopes that the “Pea Patch” would be a better spot.
Shared Sense, in contrast, arrives on the upswing off a resounding Indiana Derby (G3) win worth 20 points. Previously no match for Art Collector in a Churchill Downs allowance, the Brad Cox pupil is eligible to get a better pace set-up in this field. But he’s also stuck in post 12.
Dean Martini, like Shared Sense, was not nominated to the Triple Crown yet has 20 points with his name on it thanks to his upset in the Ohio Derby (G3). The sharp claim by trainer Tom Amoss meets a couple other foes from Thistledown, Rowdy Yates and Sprawl, the respective fourth and fifth from the Ohio Derby.
Winning Impression had his point total increased to 20 thanks to Charlatan’s disqualification from the first Arkansas Derby (G1) division, which elevated him from fourth to third place. The Dallas Stewart trainee was expected to fare better than seventh behind Shared Sense at Indiana Grand, and he could show more here.
Attachment Rate, fifth after a troubled start in the Blue Grass, has collected 15 points through useful efforts in defeat and continues to have some upside for Dale Romans. Necker Island, who had been unplaced behind Attachment Rate in the Gotham (G3), Unbridled S., and Matt Winn (G3), improved to third in the Indiana Derby in his first start off the claim for Chris Hartman.
Little Menace, who wired the Grand Prairie Derby last out at Lone Star, is a stablemate of Rowdy Yates from the Steve Asmussen barn. Rounding out the field are Truculent, representing up-and-coming trainer Jack Sisterson; stakes firster Trident Hit; and the also-eligible maiden Rogue Element.
Sunday’s Kentucky Oaks (G1) scoring race, the $100,000 Audubon Oaks, is worth fewer points – on a 10-4-2-1 scale – as a 7-furlong sprint. Contenders include smart Keeneland allowance winner Mundaye Call; Asmussen’s Casual, well beaten in the Acorn (G1) in her latest; Beaumont (G3) runner-up Sconsin; Iowa Oaks (G3) third Ocean Breeze; Street of Dreams, second in the Forward Gal (G3) two back; Maryland-bred celebrity Hello Beautiful; and Compelling Smile, a recent allowance winner over the track.
In between the points races, older fillies and mares square off in the $100,000 Groupie Doll Stakes over a mile. Reigning Cotillion (G1) star Street Band, most recently fourth in the Apple Blossom (G1), brings the richest form. Among her rivals are Lady Apple, winless in three starts since repelling Street Band in the Jan. 26 Houston Ladies Classic (G3); last year’s runner-up Divine Queen; improving stakes debutante Dos Vinos; With Dignity, half-sister to McCraken and Four Graces; mile specialist Lady Kate; and Drury’s New Roo, a 12-length allowance conqueror over this track and trip in her latest.
Ellis also hosts a pair of 7-furlong stakes for 2-year-olds as part of the banner five-stakes program. The $100,000 Juvenile Stakes features Cowan, a debut winner at Churchill for Asmussen over Wesley Ward’s well-regarded Sheriff Bianco; Libertyrun, the first winner sired by champion and race sponsor Runhappy; local hero Medicine Tail; and Delaware maiden romper Waist Deep.
The companion $100,000 Debutante Stakes includes Crazy Beautiful, who goes turf to dirt for Ken McPeek; Asmussen’s Lone Star heroine Lacey Boss; Fabricate, who beat a next-out winner in Yogurt at Churchill; Keeneland maiden winner Puye Timing; Delaware conqueror Hipnotizada, the first winner sired by Uncle Lino; Exaggerator’s first winner at Golden Gate, Xtrema, likewise trained by Keith Desormeaux; and Gulfstream shipper Wholebodemeister.