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Derby favorites jockey for position in AP list

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Associated Press

A little bumping in Florida and a lot of rain in Arkansas created some shuffling in the AP’s latest Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Kentucky Derby contenders.

Despite being disqualified after finishing first in the Fountain of Youth last weekend, Upstart improves two spots to No. 3; Far Right angled far left to the rail and won the Southwest Stakes in the slop to move in to the rankings at No. 8.

Itsaknockout finished second in the Fountain of Youth, but was declared the winner after stewards ruled he was impeded in the stretch by Upstart. The official result puts Itsaknockout at No. 7.

International Star, winner of the Risen Star, debuts at No. 9.

Dortmund, scheduled to run next in the Santa Anita Derby on April 4, remains No. 1. The unbeaten colt trained by three-time Derby winner Bob Baffert worked 4 furlongs in 49 seconds at Santa Anita on Feb. 19.

Trainer Todd Pletcher has three horses in the Top 10 this week — No 5. Carpe Diem, No. 6 Far From Over and Itsaknockout.

After the Fountain of Youth, Rick Violette was not a happy trainer.

“The horse ran great,” he said of his New York-bred Upstart. “We just don’t get credit for it.”

The field for the Kentucky Derby on May 2 is determined by a points system of 35 selected races. The field is limited to 20 starters. Entering this weekend, with no points-earning races, the leading horses are International Star (71 points), Itsaknockout (50) and Upstart (36). Firing Line is 20th with eight points.

Here’s our Top 10:

1. Dortmund (Bob Baffert, trainer; Martin Garcia, jockey): Unbeaten colt worked 4 furlongs in 49:00 at Santa Anita on Feb. 19. .... Comes into next race off impressive win in Robert B. Lewis on Feb. 7.

2. Texas Red (Keith Desormeaux, Kent Desormeaux): Must return to training soon or BC Juvenile winner will disappear from rankings. ... Developed abscess of right front foot after runner-up finish in San Vicente.

3. Upstart (Rick Violette, Jr., Jose Ortiz): Clearly best in Fountain of Youth, the DQ to second cost qualifying points but raised stature. ... Holy Bull winner could be headed back to New York for final prep.

4. American Pharoah (Baffert, Victor Espinoza): Worked 6 furlongs in 1:12.40 at Santa Anita on Feb. 21. ... All signs point to colt being ready for late 3-year-old debut.

5. Carpe Diem (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Still waiting to see how good this horse can be. ... BC Juvenile runner-up worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.21 at Palm Beach Downs on Feb. 21.

6. Far From Over (Pletcher, Manuel Franco): Showed moxie in winning Withers after stumble at start and last-to-first effort. ... Worked 4 furlongs in 48.40 at Palm Beach Downs on Feb. 21.

7. Itsaknockout (Pletcher, Luis Saez): Declared winner of Fountain of Youth after Upstart was DQ’d for interference in stretch. ... Debate lingers over stewards decision. ... No denying horse is Derby prospect.

8. Far Right (Ron Moquett, Mike Smith): Showed versatility in Southwest in slop, moving outside to challenge leaders, then angling inside to rail for the win. ... Also won Smarty Jones. ... Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park (April 11). ... Odds: 48-1.

9. International Star (Mike Maker, Michael Mena): Adds Risen Star to Lecomte win, and improved to four wins in eight starts — 2-for-2 in 2015.

10. Firing Line (Simon Callaghan, Gary Stevens): Worked 4 furlongs in 48.20 at Santa Anita on Feb. 21. Stays in ranking based on two close seconds to Dortmund.