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Derby prospects in key prep races

Verrazano, Shanghai Bobby hold top spots

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.

Pletcher’s unbeaten Revolutionary and Palace Malice headline the Louisiana Derby field, 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, but neither made it into the AP’s Top 10.