By Richard Rosenblatt
Points, points and more points.
The road to the Kentucky Derby intensifies this weekend with qualifying points doubling for the remaining prep races in the final weeks before the Run for the Roses.
And with some of the top-rated 3-year-olds set to run Saturday in the Florida and Louisiana derbies, the AP's Run to the Roses' Top 10 list of contenders could undergo a major shakeup next week.
For now, the latest rankings remain the same as last week, with trainer Todd Pletcher's Verrazano and Shanghai Bobby 1-2, followed by Itsmyluckyday, Orb and Vyjack.
At Gulfstream Park on Saturday, Shanghai Bobby will try to avenge his only defeat - in the Holy Bull - when he takes on Itsmyluckyday in the Florida Derby. Orb, winner of the Fountain of Youth, also is in the field.
At the Fair Grounds, Pletcher's unbeaten Revolutionary and Palace Malice headline the field in the Louisiana Derby, which also includes trainer D. Wayne Lukas' Titletown Five, co-owned by football great Paul Hornung.
The winner of each race earns 100 Derby qualifying points - up from 50 in the most recent series of prep races. Second place is worth 40 points, third 20 and fourth 10. The top 20 horses based on points qualify for the Derby on May 4. Currently, Rebel winner Will Take Charge tops the list with 60 points; Itsmyluckyday is 20th with 10 points.
The other Derby prep Saturday is the UAE Derby in Dubai, where trainer Doug O'Neill sends out He's Had Enough. Last year, O'Neill's I'll Have Another won the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.
In preps over the weekend, a pair of 3-year-olds likely earned Derby shots. Black Onyx held off Uncaptured and won the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park, and trainer Bob Baffert's Govenor Charlie broke a track record and easily won the Sunland Derby. Each winner earned 50 points, but neither worked his way into the AP's Top 10.
Verrazano has a chance to secure his No. 1 ranking on April 6, when he is set to run in the Wood Memorial.
Here's our Top 10:
1. Verrazano (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Worked 4 furlongs in 49.79 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Pletcher called unbeaten colt's gallop out after work "pretty awesome." Next start: Wood Memorial, Aqueduct, April 6. ... Final Derby future wager odds: 7-1.
2. Shanghai Bobby (Pletcher, Rosie Napravnik): Worked 5 furlongs in 1:00.82 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Pletcher said his 2-year-old champion "got a good tightener." ... Next start: Florida Derby, Gulfstream Park, Saturday. ... Odds: 18-1.
3. Itsmyluckyday (Eddie Plesa Jr., Elvis Trujillo): Worked 4 furlongs in 49 2/5 Saturday at Calder. Holy Bull winner is 5-of-9 overall, and 2-2 this year, including win over Shanghai Bobby. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 10-1.
4. Orb (Shug McGaughey, Velazquez): Fountain of Youth winner worked 4 furlongs in 48.30 Monday at Payson Park. ... Has won three in a row after opening career with three losses. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 12-1.
5. Vyjack (Rudy Rodriguez, Joel Rosario): Worked 5 furlongs in 59.07 Friday at Aqueduct. ... Gotham winner is 4-for-4, all at the Big A. ... Next start: Wood Memorial. . Odds: 10-1.
6. Revolutionary (Pletcher, Javier Castellano): Worked 4 furlongs in 48.20 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Hasn't raced since winning Withers on Feb. 2. ... Next start: Louisiana Derby, Fair Grounds, Saturday. ... Odds: 12-1.
7. Will Take Charge (D. Wayne Lukas, Jon Court): Winner of Smarty Jones and Rebel in two starts this year. . Leader in Derby qualifying points with 60. . Next start: Blue Grass, Keeneland, April 13. ... Odds: 19-1.
8. Oxbow (Lukas, Mike Smith): Son of Awesome Again won Lecomte and was edged by stablemate Will Take Charge in Rebel. . Next start: Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn Park, April 13. ... Odds: 21-1.
9. Hear the Ghost (Jerry Hollendorfer, Corey Nakatani): San Felipe winner worked 6 furlongs in 1:13.60 Sunday at Hollywood Park. ... Hall of Fame trainer looking for his first Santa Anita Derby win. ... Next start: Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita, April 6. ... Odds: 15-1.
10. Flashback (Bob Baffert, Garrett Gomez): Worked 6 furlongs in 1:11.80 Sunday at Santa Anita, fastest of 15 at that distance. . Finished second in San Felipe after win in Robert B. Lewis. .Next start: Santa Anita Derby. ... Odds: 15-1.
Keep an eye on: Black Onyx, Code West, Govenor Charlie, Normandy Invasion, War Academy.