Welcome to the Kentucky Derby, Pants On Fire. Same to you, Animal Kingdom and Twice the Appeal.
A weekend full of surprises at tracks in Louisiana, Kentucky and New Mexico has put the names of these 3-year-olds on the AP's latest Run to the Roses Top 10 list of Derby contenders.
Pants On Fire upset Mucho Macho Man in the Louisiana Derby, Animal Kingdom took the Spiral Stakes at Turfway Park and 35-1 long shot Twice the Appeal won the Sunland Derby to create a minor Top 10 shuffle.
Uncle Mo and The Factor remain 1-2 on the list, with Pants On Fire in at No. 7, Animal Kingdom No. 9 and Twice the Appeal No. 10.
Top-10 horses Soldat (No. 3) and Stay Thirsty (No. 4), along with former top-10 horses To Honor and Serve and Dialed In are all set to run in Sunday's Florida Derby.
Pants On Fire, ridden by Rosie Napravnik, won for just the second time in eight starts. But the win at 1 1/8 miles was enough to convince owners George and Lori Hall and trainer Kelly Breen that the horse is Derby worthy.
"This horse is really blossoming," Breen said. "You know it was like going to Disneyland, that sort of thing. We stamped our ticket."
Napravnik would become the first female jockey in the Derby since 2003, when Rosemary Homeister Jr. was aboard 13th-place finisher Supah Blitz.
Mucho Macho Man, who drops to No. 9 from No. 3 this week, lost a shoe early in the race, and that might have compromised his chances. The Risen Star winner finished third in Saturday's race, but is still on for the Derby on May 7.
Twice the Appeal made amends for a DQ his last time out -- from second to fourth in the Turf Paradise Derby -- and won the Sunland Derby by 1 1/2 lengths over favorite Astrology. The win was worth $400,000, and gives the horse more than enough earnings to qualify for the Derby.
Co-owner Edward Brown Jr. said his horse "ran his eyeballs out" in tracking down Astrology in mid-stretch.
"He has become a different horse since switching from synthetic to dirt," Brown added. "We are going to the Kentucky Derby."
In the Spiral, Animal Kingdom took the lead at the top of the stretch and won by 2 3/4 lengths over Decisive Moment. Positive Response, the favorite, faded to ninth.
Animal Kingdom, who earned $285,000, has run only on synthetic surfaces (the Derby is on dirt), but that doesn't look like it will stop Barry Irwin's Team Valor from moving on to Churchill Downs.
"Now he's got the earnings, we know he's an impressive animal," winning trainer Graham Motion said.
Santiva, To Honor and Serve and Dialed In dropped out of the top 10, but could return after the Florida Derby.
Santiva's final Derby prep is the Blue Grass at Keeneland on April 16.
1. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, trainer; John Velazquez, jockey): Unbeaten Big Mo still warming up for final prep. ... Worked 4 furlongs in 49.45 Sunday at Palm Meadows. ... 2-year-old champ is 4-0. ... Next start: Wood Memorial (April 9, Aqueduct, dirt). ... Derby future wager odds: 3-1.
2. The Factor (Bob Baffert, Martin Garcia): Rebel winner's next start still not set, but there will be one more prep, the Arkansas Derby or Santa Anita Derby. ... Speedster has won 3 of 4 races. ... Next start: Undecided. ... Odds: 32-1.
3. Soldat (Kiaran McLaughlin, Alan Garcia): Fountain of Youth winner worked 5 furlongs Sunday in 1:00.80 at Palm Meadows. .. Colt has finished first or second in all seven starts. ... Next start: Florida Derby (Sunday, Gulfstream Park, dirt). ... Odds: 13-1.
4. Stay Thirsty (Pletcher, Ramon Dominguez): Gotham winner worked 5 furlongs in 1:01.95 Sunday at Palm Meadows with stablemate Uncle Mo. ... Could wear blinkers in next race. ... Next start: Florida Derby. ... Odds: 25-1.
5. Premier Pegasus (Myung Kwon Cho, Alonso Quinonez): San Vicente will draw plenty of attention in final prep. ... Cho is breeder, owner and trainer. ... Next start: Santa Anita Derby (April 9, Santa Anita, dirt). ... Odds: 7-2 (mutuel field).
6. Jaycito (Baffert, Mike Smith): Looks like a change of plans will bring San Felipe runner-up to New York. ... Next start: Wood Memorial. ... Odds: 16-1.
7. Pants On Fire (Kelly Breen, Rosie Napravnik): Won Louisiana Derby by a neck for second win in eight starts. ... Napravnik would become first female rider in Derby since 2003. ... Next start: (Kentucky Derby). ... Odds: 7-2 (mutuel field).
8. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh): Third in Louisiana Derby after losing a shoe early in race. .. Risen Star winner still on course for Derby. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 29-1.
9. Animal Kingdom (Graham Motion, Alan Garcia): Won Spiral Stakes with late surge. ... Will come into Derby without a race on a dirt track. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 7-2 (mutuel field).
10. Twice the Appeal (Jeff Bonde, Christian Santiago-Reyes): Upset Astrology to win Sunland Derby. ... Late-bloomer cold be peaking at right time. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby (May 7, Churchill Downs, dirt). ... Odds: 7-2 (mutuel field).
Keep an eye on: Anthony's Cross, Dialed In, Flashpoint, Santiva, To Honor and Serve.