One of the most prestigious trials for the Triple Crown is the Florida Derby, 27th March at Gulfstream Park. In 2020 it was won by Belmont winner/Derby runner-up Tiz The Law. But the season for three-year-olds kicks up a notch this Saturday with the first qualifier offering 50 points to the winner, as opposed to the 10 available for trials so far. The $400,000 Grade 2 Risen Stars Stakes at Fairgrounds, has attracted 13 entries. Senor Buscador and Midnight Bourbon are probably the two best-rated contenders.
Leading this summer's crop as a two-year-old was Essential Quality, who won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile in November to stay unbeaten. He heads into 2021 with a perfect 3-for-3 record and a win already at Churchill Downs. Trainer Brad Cox recently announced that the Southwest Stakes, on 15th February at Oaklawn is likely to be his first 2021 start.
Greatest Honour's dominant win in the Holy Bull and Risk Taking's fast finish in the Withers (see both winning videos here) move them up the leaderboard into contention but it's early days in the season yet.