The events of March 9 left huge implications on who will be at the starting gate of the 2019 Kentucky Derby®.
With three races on the American Road to the Derby taking place on the same day, eyes and minds were spread across the nation to see the horses that would be claiming the high number of points at stake.
It's worth noting that there were actually four races scheduled for March 9, but the recent suspension of racing at Santa Anita Park resulting in the cancellation of the San Felipe Stakes.
But three races still provided enough drama throughout the weekend, with horses getting closer to their goal of making it to Churchill Downs®.
The field at the Aqueduct Racetrack was stacked with Derby contenders, but it was a first-time point winner that came out on top.
Derby hopefuls Much Better and Knicks Go came into the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes as two fan favorites and shot out of the starting gate like they had a point to prove. The duo maintained a four-length lead through the first quarter mile, with Much Better then pushing past his rival to stretch to an individual four-length lead at the half mile mark.
As the pack hit the final turn, the trio of Mind Control, Instagrand and Much Better engaged in a dead sprint near the rail with one eighth of a mile remaining.
While the trio went to battle, Haikal, led by jockey Rajiv Maragh, came bursting from the back of the group and started to approach them from the outside. In a last-ditch effort, Haikal strode past the three contenders en route to a miraculous comeback victory.
The come-from-behind win earned Haikal 50 points on the Road to Derby leaderboard, pushing the colt near the top.
Tampa Bay Derby
No record is safe on the Road to the Derby.
The track record at Tampa Bay Downs set in 2017 has been surpassed in just two years after Tacitus earned a spot in the history books on March 9.
With a record time of 1:41.90, Tacitus took home the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Derby and earned 50 points in the Road to the Derby Standings.
Jockey Jose Ortiz kept Tacitus near the middle of the pack through the first half of the race but utilized a rail trip as they approached the final turn to get into the front runner position. With victory in sight, all it took was holding off soaring contender Outshine to claim the win.
The Tampa Bay Derby was Tacitus' first race of his three-year-old year, and only the third competition of his career as a whole.
Jeff Ruby Steaks
The Jeff Ruby Steaks offered the least amount of Road to Derby points over the weekend — 20 points were awarded to the winner — but the importance of the Grade 3 race still reverberated throughout Turfway Park.
After breaking well out of the gate and settling into second position, Somelikeithotbrown proved why he was the favorite going into the race, overtaking then-leader Five Star General to get in front of the pack.
There was no looking back from there, as Somelikeithotbrown led for the rest of the race, holding off a late surge from Dynamic Racer, who was charging in from the outside.
Spending a majority of the race as the leader, Somelikeithotbrown proved to be a contender as the Road to Derby continues, showing off an attractive mix of stamina and speed.
Kentucky Derby American Road Standings
|1||War of Will||60|
|2||Code of Honor||54|
|14||Long Range Toddy||16|
Kentucky Derby European Road Standings
|1||Royal Marine (IRE)||10|
|2||Magna Grecia (IRE)||10|
|5||Phoenix of Spain (IRE)||4|
|7||Sydney Opera House (GB)||4|
|8||Mount Everest (IRE)||4|
|10||Western Australia (IRE)||2|
|11||Cape of Good Hope (IRE)||2|
|12||Power of Now (IRE)||2|
|14||Victory Command (IRE)||1|
|15||Circus Maximus (IRE)||1|
Kentucky Derby Japan Road Standings
|1||Oval Ace (JPN)||30|
|2||Nova Lenda (JPN)||20|
|3||Derma Louvre (JPN)||14|
|6||Gal Vihara (JPN)||4|
Official Ticket Packages Available for 2019 Kentucky Derby
Be at the 2019 Kentucky Derby with an Official Ticket Package from Derby Experiences. With over 30 different Official Ticket Package options, the perfect Derby experience is waiting for you. Click below to explore all your Derby Experiences options: