As we sit just three months away from the 2019 Kentucky Derby®, the Road to the Derby series is heating up and more contenders are making their case for the "Run for the Roses".
Points were on the line in three different races to open up February, all going towards the American Road to the Derby standings.
Let's take a look at the action and winners from February 2 in the Robert B. Lewis, Withers and Holy Bull Stakes over the weekend.
Robert B. Lewis Stakes
Start slow, finish strong.
That was the story of Mucho Gusto as the three-year-old colt took 10 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in the $150,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
The Bob Baffert-trained horse stayed in the middle of the five-horse pack going into the first turn, but turned on the jets in the second half of the race. Mucho Gusto advanced past the competition heading into the final turn, and broke away to win the 1 1/16 mile competition by a convincing 4 3/4 lengths.
The victory brings Mucho Gusto to 14 points on the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby. While points on the road to Churchill Downs® don't come easily, Mucho Gusto made it look simple at Santa Anita Park.
An impressive win for MUCHO GUSTO in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes @SantaAnitaPark gaining 10 Kentucky Derby Points! Trainer Bob Baffert, Owner Michael Lund Peterson with Jockey @joetalamo aboard! @spendthriftfarm's Road to the Derby on #TVG. pic.twitter.com/Y8TLPziyTc— TVG (@TVG) February 2, 2019
Trouble getting out of the gate seemed to be a trend on February 2, as Tax had similar trouble as Mucho Gusto in the Withers Stakes.
The Danny Gargan-trained Tax overcame a difficult start at the Aqueduct Racetrack to earn 10 points on the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
While the field of seven created heavy traffic throughout the majority of the $250,000 sprint, it became a three-horse race going into the final stretch. Our Braintrust and Not That Brady tussled in a duel as Tax made his challenge from the inside. The trio competed for position, but it was Our Braintrust and Not That Brady that lost momentum as Tax had more free space to move from the interior position. As they crossed the finish line, Tax had a head out in front of Not That Brady to claim the 10 points.
With the victory, Tax now has 12 points on the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby.
10 Kentucky Derby points awarded to #1, TAX who takes the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct for Trainer Danny Gargan & Owners R.A. Hill Stable & Reeves Thoroughbred! Jockey Junior Alvarado on the mount. pic.twitter.com/0g52sFiDwy— TVG (@TVG) February 2, 2019
Holly Bull Stakes
It was an upset in every sense of the word.
Harvey Wallbanger, a 29-1 underdog, dropped the collective jaw at Gulfstream Park with a come-from-behind victory at the Holly Bull Stakes on February 2.
Led by jockey Brian Hernandez Jr., Harvey Wallbanger escaped from the back of the group to challenge the odds favorite and early Derby favorite Maximus Mischief at the front of the pack.
As Maximus Mischief controlled the traffic from the outside, Harvey Wallbanger came in hot from near the fence as was able to stretch out in front of the leader, claiming first place in a result that nobody saw coming. Maximus Mischief ended up finishing third.
The win gives Harvey Wallbanger 10 points on the Road to the 2019 Kentucky Derby, and earned Maximus Mischief his first loss in four starts.
Kentucky Derby American Road Standings
|5||Long Range Toddy||14|
|12||War of Will||10|
|16||Code of Honor||4|
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||Nova Lenda (JPN)||20|
|3||Derma Louvre (JPN)||8|
|4||Gal Vihara (JPN)||4|
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