What a long strange trip it's been – the Grateful Dead.
Little did Jerry Garcia and crew know how apt that lyric would be in describing the Road, strike that, the Detour to the 2020 Kentucky Derby. COVID-19 rearranged the schedule and moved the Run for the Roses to the first Saturday of September, instead of the first Saturday of May.
Just two more stops and the qualifying trip. The Ellis Park Derby today and the Pegasus Stakes at Monmouth next Saturday, and the path to the 2020 Kentucky Derby draws to a close. The Ellis Park Derby is of the 50-20-10-5 variety.
Aside from 4/5 favorite ART COLLECTOR (PP: $) and ANNEAU D'OR (PP: 2 ML 12-1), it's win or go home for the other 10 horses in the Ellis Park Derby field. ANNEAU D'OR most likely needs to finish no worse than fourth to make the trip to Louisville a month from now. He's currently ranked 18th with 32 points (prior to the Travers) and only the top 20 are locked in. A surprise winner in the Travers, today's Ellis Derby or next week's Pegasus, and ANNEAU D'OR is likely to get bounced if he doesn't collect any points today.
Unfortunately for ANNEAU D'OR, his running style and post position aren't the best fits for the distance and surface. Outside speed has the edge and the son of MEDAGLIA D'ORO has an inside draw and is more of a stalker.
It's unlikely any of these are going to beat the chalk, ART COLLECTOR but DEAN MARTINI (PP: 9 ML 10-1) could make it interesting. He has an outside post and likes the view from the front. Trainer Thomas Amoss' horse is coming off a hard-fought win the Grade III, Ohio Derby. He pressed the lead early, dropped back a touch, took the lead again by the 1/2 mile marker, stretched it out and battled it out the finish line. The problem for DEAN MARTINI is that ART COLLECTOR is most likely going to keep him company and not allow DEAN to run easy fractions.
SHARED SENSE (PP: 12 ML 9/2) has the outside post and recorded the second-best, last race speed figure in winning the Grade III, Indiana Derby. However, he's not a frontrunner. He is a closer that occasionally stalks. The Brad Cox trainee squared up with ART COLLECTOR two races ago and finished a distant second, by 6 1/2 lengths. Considering there were only four horses in the race, we don't put a lot of stock into the result.
Unfortunately for the 10 with Kentucky Derby dreams, we expect ART COLLECTOR to collect the 50 qualifying points. Aside from ANNEAU D'OR, 20 points for place money won't be enough to go to the Derby.
Here's our handicapper's Pro Subscribers' Bonus Commentary for the Ellis Park Derby.
"It's hard to see how ART COLLECTOR does not win; so, let see who comes in behind him. The distance and surface favor outside speed, DEAN MARTINI is the fastest outside horse. SHARED SENSE won his last race and trainer Brad Cox follows a W with another at 28%. ANNEAU D'OR just has more class than the rest."