Baffert Has Top Two Horses As Kentucky Derby Looms

Dortmund, American Pharoah top two horses a few weeks before Kentucky Derby

Too close to call?

Take your pick: Dortmund, American Pharoah or American Pharoah, Dortmund.

Both are worthy favorites for the Kentucky Derby in less than three weeks. By post time they could wind up as co-favorites.

Here's the prediction: In a photo finish, it's big, bold, unbeaten Dortmund over his swift, smooth-striding stablemate American Pharoah.

Dortmund is No. 1 in the AP's final Top 10 Derby contenders, and ends up going wire to wire in the weekly rankings. He's 6-for-6, and the fact he's battle-tested bodes well for his chances in a 20-horse cavalry charge in the Derby.

Of course, since American Pharoah has won so easily — without breaking a sweat, really — there's no telling what he's capable of if seriously challenged — he could simply blow away the competition on the first Saturday in May.

Either way, Hall of Famer Bob Baffert is delighted because he trains both 3-year-old colts. It's a pretty strong arsenal for a guy seeking his fourth Derby win. He last won with War Emblem in 2002. He'll also send out Santa Anita Derby runner-up One Lucky Dane.

Dortmund has done everything right in winning the Robert B. Lewis and San Felipe stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby. He arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday and will have one timed workout before the big race.

American Pharoah, meanwhile, has excelled in his two races this year after being voted 2-year-old champion despite missing the Breeders' Cup Juvenile with an injury. He won the Rebel at Oaklawn Park by 6 1/4 lengths even after stumbling at the start and losing a shoe in the slop, and was breathtaking in an eight-length romp in the Arkansas Derby over the weekend.

After that race, Baffert said of American Pharoah: "I've had a lot of nice horses. I think he's the most exceptional 3-year-old."

Carpe Diem, the Blue Grass winner, slipped to No. 3 with American Pharoah's move to No. 2.

There were no other changes in the Top 10, although No. 10 Upstart missed a workout last week with a fever.

The 35-race Derby-prep season ended with the Arkansas Derby and Lexington Stakes. A maximum of 20 horses run in the Kentucky Derby, and the field is selected from point totals earned for designated races.

Louisiana Derby winner International Star leads the qualifying system with 171 points. Dortmund has 170, Carpe Diem 164 and American Pharoah 160. Madefromlucky, fourth in the Arkansas Derby, is 21st with 30 points. For him to get in the field, a horse ranked higher would have to drop out.

Here's our Top 10:

1. Dortmund (Bob Baffert, trainer; Martin Garcia, jockey): Unbeaten colt arrived at Churchill Downs on Monday, with one pre-Derby workout scheduled. … His 6-for-6 record matches marks of Seattle Slew and Smarty Jones before their Derby wins in 1977, 2004. … Final Derby future odds (pool 4): 6-1.

2. American Pharoah (Baffert, Victor Espinoza): Breathtaking performance to win Arkansas Derby by eight lengths. … Two overpowering wins at age 3 after 2-year-old championship season followed by an injury. … Has won four in a row after finishing fifth in first career start. … Odds: 5-1.

3. Carpe Diem (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Blue Grass winner is Pletcher's top contender. … Previously won Tampa Bay Derby and brings 4-for-5 mark to Derby. Only loss was runner-up finish in Breeders' Cup Juvenile … Odds: 10-1.

4. Firing Line (Simon Callaghan, Gary Stevens): Sunland Derby winner worked 5 furlongs in 59.20 at Santa Anita on April 11. … Two more workouts planned at Santa Anita before trip to Louisville on April 26. … Comes in with two wins in five starts (includes two close seconds to Dortmund). … Odds: 13-1.

5. Frosted (Kiaran McLaughlin, Joel Rosario): Wood winner back in Florida to continue training before shipping to Louisville. … Was 0-for-3 before winning New York's major Derby prep. … Odds: 40-1.

6. Materiality (Pletcher, Velazquez): Florida Derby winner worked 4 furlongs in 48.41 at Palm Beach Downs on April 11. …. Bound for Churchill Downs on April 21. … Comes into Derby undefeated in three races. … Odds: 12-1.

7. International Star (Mike Maker, Miguel Mena): Resume is strong: Lecomte, Risen Star, Louisiana Derby wins. … Odds: 17-1.

8. Far Right (Ron Moquett, Mike Smith): Finished strong to gain distant second in Arkansas Derby and earn needed points. … Previously won Smarty Jones and Southwest. … Odds: 39-1.

9. Mubtaahij (Mike De Kock, Christophe Soumillon): After the results of the preps in Arkansas and California, tough to see UAE Derby winner as factor in big race. … Nonetheless, won his prep impressively, too. … Odds: 8-1.

10. Upstart (Rick Violette, Jr., Jose Ortiz): Florida Derby runner-up after finishing first in Fountain of Youth and being DQ'd to second for questionable interference. … Odds: 18-1.

Keep an eye on: Bolo, Danzig Moon, El Kabeir, Ocho Ocho Ocho, One Lucky Dane.

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