A combination of major upsets and minor injuries have turned what appeared to be a strong Kentucky Derby field into a wide-open affair.
One-time top contender Uncle Mo finished third in the Wood Memorial as the 1-10 favorite, and is recovering from a gastrointestinal infection. His Derby status remains questionable.
The Factor wasn't one in the Arkansas Derby, finishing seventh as the 4-5 top choice.
Other Derby hopefuls, including To Honor and Serve, Premier Pegasus and Jaycito, have been sidelined with assorted ailments.
So, with less than two weeks before the Derby, the role of No. 1 on the AP's final Top 10 list of Derby contenders falls to Dialed In.
The lightly raced, 3-year-old colt trained by two-time Derby winner Nick Zito ran himself into the top spot by winning the Florida Derby by a head over Shackleford on April 3.
Since then, Uncle Mo's unbeaten record ended in the Wood; favorite Premier Pegasus, followed by new favorite Jaycito were scratched from the Santa Anita Derby; The Factor ran seventh in Arkansas; and 2-1 choice favorite Santiva finished ninth in the Blue Grass Stakes.
Neither the Lexington Stakes nor the Jerome Stakes produced a Derby contender over the weekend, leaving the rest of this week's Top 10 unchanged.
Risen Star winner Mucho Macho Man is No. 2, with Wood winner Toby's Corner at No. 3, followed by Uncle Mo and Arkansas Derby winner Archarcharch.
A little history, though, says a horse doesn't have to win a final prep race to win the Kentucky Derby. Since Strike the Gold won the Blue Grass followed by the Derby in 1991, only six others have completed the final prep-Derby double.
Zito will be glad to know that two of those horses won the Florida Derby before taking the Kentucky Derby — Barbaro in 2006 and Big Brown in 2008.
The other Derby winners who won their final prep are Charismatic (1999 Lexington), Fusaichi Pegasus (2000 Wood), War Emblem (2002 Illinois Derby) and Smarty Jones (2004 Arkansas Derby).
The field for Derby No. 137 could be even more open than last year, when Super Saver won as the second-betting choice at 8-1. Lookin At Lucky was the 6-1 favorite, which equaled Harlan's Holiday in 2002 for the longest priced Derby favorite.
The loss of Jaycito leaves three-time Derby winning-trainer Bob Baffert with two probable starters in No. 8 Midnight Interlude and No. 10 The Factor.
Trainer Todd Pletcher could have two starters on May 7 in Uncle Mo and Stay Thirsty as he goes for his second straight Derby win.
While John Velazquez is set to ride Uncle Mo, Pletcher may team up again with Calvin Borel to ride Stay Thirsty. Borel was aboard the colt for a workout Sunday. Pletcher did not rule out reuniting with the rider who has won the Derby three of the past four years, including last year with Super Saver.
The Derby is limited to 20 starters. If more are entered, the field will be determined by graded stakes earnings. Currently, Santiva is 20th at $242,397, Watch Me Go is 21st at $235,500 and Shackleford is 22nd at $212,000.
AP Top 10 List
1. Dialed In (Nick Zito, trainer; Julien Leparoux, jockey): Florida Derby winner has won three of four starts for owner Robert LaPenta. ... Two of past five Kentucky Derby winners won Florida Derby first. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby (May 7, Churchill Downs, dirt). ... Odds: 5-1.
2. Mucho Macho Man (Kathy Ritvo, Rajiv Maragh): Brings a record of two wins in eight starts to Derby. ... Last two races: Won Risen Star, third in Louisiana Derby. ... Worked 7 furlongs in 1:29.20 Sunday in the rain at Churchill Downs. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 27-1.
3. Toby's Corner (Graham Motion, Eddie Castro): Last Wood winner to take Derby was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000. ... Son of Bellamy Road has four wins and two thirds in six career races. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 8-1 (mutuel field).
4. Uncle Mo (Todd Pletcher, John Velazquez): Seems to be recovering well from gastrointestinal infection. ... Galloped 1½ miles Sunday at Churchill Downs; Derby future could depend on Tuesday workout. ... 2-year-old champ brings a record of 4-0-1 in five races into Derby. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 3-1.
5. Archarcharch (Jinks Fires, Jon Court): Arkansas Derby winner has Fires and Court psyched for their first Kentucky Derby. ... Owns 3-1-1 record from six starts. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 8-1.
6. Nehro (Steve Asmussen, Corey Nakatani): Likely to be the hot horse Derby week after just missing in Arkansas and Louisiana derbies. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 30-1.
7. Pants On Fire (Kelly Breen, Rosie Napravnik): Louisiana Derby winner worked 5 furlongs in 59.00 Saturday at Palm Meadows. ... Has won two of eight races. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 44-1.
8. Midnight Interlude (Bob Baffert, Victor Espinoza): Santa Anita Derby winner has a 2-1-1 record from four starts. ... Baffert looking for Derby win No. 4. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 8-1 (mutuel field).
9. Soldat (Kiaran McLaughlin, Alan Garcia): Worked 5 furlongs in 59.00 last week at Palm Meadows. ... Fifth in Florida Derby in last start, but has 3-4-0 record in eight races. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 17-1.
10. The Factor (Baffert, Martin Garcia): Baffert could have a second Derby starter if horse works well following poor effort in Arkansas Derby. ... Next start: Kentucky Derby. ... Odds: 10-1.