Blue Grass field in flux, will Holy Candy get in?// Secret Circle, Optimizer work for Ark Derby// Daddy Nose Best breezes at Churchill

This time of year always brings about the graded earnings cutoff guessing game. The amount needed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby currently sits at $270,000 ($188,000 if you count the slots for the four also-eligibles) and could rise after this weekend’s final duo of important preps.  However, we know there will be defections.  Already, there are mixed signals on Drill, Trinniberg, and Liaison, while there will inevitably be more questionables and dropouts as May 5th nears// There were some shake-ups to the likely Blue Grass (G1) field Monday.  Todd Pletcher’s Raconteur was dropped from the probable list and will most likely run in the Arkansas Derby (G1) instead.  Adirondack King could also skip the Blue Grass and point for the Lexington Stakes (G3) a week later.  In a surprising announcement, trainer Gennadi Dorochenko stated recent Louisiana Derby (G2) winner Hero of Order could be pushed forward into the Blue Grass.  There is hardly a chance the colt will make the Derby field due to not being nominated, however even with the Preakness as his logical Classic target, a two-week turnaround off the race of his life could still be taxing.  John Sadler is no doubt keeping tabs on all of these additions and defections seeing as he skipped last Saturday’s Santa Anita Derby (G1) for Holy Candy in order to try to qualify for the Derby by way of Keeneland.  If the Blue Grass field overflows, Holy Candy would be excluded due to insufficient earnings// D. Wayne Lukas’ Optimizer put in final preparations for the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn, which could draw up to 11 entries.  Lukas was impressed with the move, but confidence has never been an issue for the trainer.  Trainer Dale Romans is never short on confidence either and feels Cozetti has a real shot Saturday as well.  Secret Circle, the likely favorite, worked five panels at Santa Anita Monday.  His stablemate Bodemeister will join him for the trip to Arkansas, and will be ridden for the first time by Mike Smith// Ed DeRosa takes a stab at probable odds for the Kentucky Derby field in a blog post on TwinSpires. He has Union Rags and Gemologist as the favorites at 7-1, but I can’t see the top pick going that high.  It’s a wide-open affair no doubt, but there have been similar fields in the past with lower priced top choices// Although the barn area at Churchill Downs will be quieter than usual due to many trainers deciding not to ship in until closer to May 5th, there are still several probable Derby starters on the grounds.  Daddy Nose Best, winner of the Sunland Derby (G3) and El Camino Real (G3), went a moderate five furlongs in 1.02:40.  Trainer Steve Asmussen was happy with the effort and is anxious to find out if Daddy Nose Best is “good enough” on the First Saturday in May// It was only a matter of time for the obligatory article arguing for a smaller field size in the Derby.  Jay Cronley at ESPN thinks 20 horses in one is race is unfair to the 10 or 12 who actually belong, and sets up a possible disaster that could be watched on national TV// Updated future odds were released from Wynn Las Vegas and you can still get some decent prices if you like any of the longshots in Saturday’s preps. Raconteur (150-1), Howe Great (125-1), Adirondack King (125-1), Stat (125-1), and Drill (100-1) are well above where they will be Derby day- if they earn a ticket to the race.  Also, I’m a little surprised Wrote is 75-1 seeing as he’s guaranteed a spot in the Derby gate// New rankings were released from several outlets and can be found below…

Derby News
Oaklawn barn notes 4/9 (Oaklawn Park)
What are the odds? (TwinSpires Blog)

Future Odds
Wynn Las Vegas 4/9 (via Brisnet)

Daddy Nose Best- CD- 5F- 1.02:40- B- 14/15
Rousing Sermon- HOL- 4F- 49:20- H- 4/14
Optimizer- OP- 5F- 1.01:20- B- 2/3
Secret Circle- SA- 5F- 1.00:20- H- 9/19

Expert Picks 4/9 (Churchill Downs)
Kentucky Derby Top 10 (And Down The Stretch They Come)

Notes and bits from web and Twitter:
“WELSCH ON ATR: FL Derby hero Take Charge Indy will ship May 1 to Churchill Downs on same flight w/ Pletcher/WinStar Wood winner Gemologist”- Steve Byk via Twitter