Updated: Unforeseen Twists and Turns Unveiled: Unveiling Kentucky Derby Prep Roundups with Surprising Departures and Revelations

Unpredictable Kentucky Derby Trail Claims Prominent Horses

The final weekend of major Kentucky Derby prep races witnessed surprising outcomes, as two highly regarded horses were forced to withdraw from the upcoming Derby. Meanwhile, two Eastern horses solidified their positions in the race, while a relatively unknown West Coast horse emerged as a serious contender. The Kentucky Derby trail continues to be bumpy and unpredictable, leaving both bettors and racing enthusiasts in awe.

Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom Withdraw from Derby

Promising Kentucky Derby prospects Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom faced disappointment in their final prep races, forcing them to bypass the highly anticipated event. Classic Causeway’s hopes were dashed after finishing last in the Florida Derby on April 2. With an inexplicable 11th-place finish by a significant margin, trainer Brian Lynch made the decision to scratch Classic Causeway, despite his previous successes in the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis and Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby at Tampa Bay Downs. Forbidden Kingdom, on the other hand, entered the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby as a top-three favorite but fell short by finishing sixth and last, leaving his Derby stock in a significant decline.

Trainer Richard Mandella announced that Forbidden Kingdom would undergo treatment for an epiglottis issue, effectively removing him from the Derby trail. This colt, who had previously won the San Vicente and the San Felipe, will be greatly missed in the Derby starting gate.

Taiba Springs into Contention with Santa Anita Derby Victory

In a surprising upset, Taiba emerged as a strong Derby contender with a remarkable victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. Taiba, with only two starts under his belt, overtook stablemate Messier in the deep stretch to secure his place in the Kentucky Derby. Owner Amr Zedan, who experienced the thrill of victory with 2021 Derby winner Medina Spirit, will return to Churchill Downs hopeful for another triumph.

Trainer Tim Yakteen praised Zedan for his decision to run Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby, despite professional advice to choose a different route for the horse’s next start. The bold move paid off with a substantial payday and showed Zedan’s keen judgment in horse racing.

Mo Donegal and Zandon Shine in Derby Preps

While Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom faced disappointment, two other horses strengthened their positions with standout performances in their respective Derby preps. Mo Donegal emerged triumphant in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, securing a fourth-place ranking on the Derby points ladder. Zandon, a rival of Mo Donegal in the Remsen Stakes, also secured a spot in the Derby with a 100-point victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland.

Looking ahead, the Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland will mark the final stop on the Derby trail. This crucial Derby prep offers valuable points to the top four finishers, potentially determining the final contenders for the prestigious race. Tawny Port, currently sitting on the points bubble in 20th place with 40 points, is among the probables/possibles for the Lexington. Trainer Brad Cox expressed openness to running Tawny Port, even with the challenge of a two-week rest period, as a top-four finish would guarantee a Derby spot.

The Keeneland racing office also mentioned two other horses, In Due Time and Bye Bye Bobby, as probable or possible contenders for the Lexington. With 40 points each, a victory in this upcoming race would secure their positions in the Derby starting gate.


The Kentucky Derby trail continues to captivate racing enthusiasts with its surprises and uncertainties. The recent withdrawal of Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom has reshaped the field, allowing other horses like Taiba, Mo Donegal, and Zandon to rise in prominence. As the Derby draws near, all eyes will be on the upcoming Grade 3 Lexington, a pivotal race that could determine the final lineup for the most prestigious event in American horse racing.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

1. Will Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom be able to compete in future races?

No information suggests that Classic Causeway and Forbidden Kingdom will participate in immediate future races. Their current focus is on recovery and evaluating their fitness for future competitions.

2. What is the significance of the points system in determining Kentucky Derby contenders?

The points system assigns specific point values to designated prep races, with higher point values given to races closer to the Derby. The total points accumulated by each horse determine their eligibility for entry into the Kentucky Derby.

3. How do trainers and owners make decisions about participating in Derby prep races?

Trainers and owners carefully review their horses’ performance, fitness levels, and the competitive landscape before deciding on the most suitable prep races. Factors such as timing, track surface, and distance play a crucial role in their decision-making process.

4. What is an epiglottis issue, and how does it affect a horse’s performance?

An epiglottis issue involves a condition where the epiglottis, a small cartilaginous flap in the throat responsible for covering the windpipe during swallowing, becomes dysfunctional. This can restrict airflow and significantly impact a horse’s breathing, leading to compromised performance.

5. How does a horse’s performance in Derby preps impact their odds in the Kentucky Derby?

A horse’s performance in Derby preps can greatly impact their odds in the Kentucky Derby. A strong showing and victory in a significant prep race often result in improved odds and increased confidence from bettors and analysts.

Doug I. Jones

Doug I. Jones

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