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The road to Kentucky Derby 2022 gets a break this week and this is a good time to update my list. Six points races have been run since I last checked in, but none of the recent winning performances really jumps off the page, with the possible exception of Epicenter. Steve Asmussen’s colt romped in the Gun Runner Stakes and might be headed in the right direction.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Points Race Results

Los Alamitos Futurity (12-11-21) – Winner: Slow Down Andy ($12.40)

Olympic Legend set sail for the lead from the inside post and Durante chased from 2nd. Overwhelming favorite Messier was outside the top two pressing the pace, and Barossa and Slow Down Andy were behind them in the compact field. Messier made the first move and took a short lead, but he never kicked away and Slow Down Andy made him pay. The latter received a quality ride by Mario Gutierrez. He sat patiently, swung out and went after Messier, forged to the front, lost the lead when lugging in, and straightened out, reclaimed the advantage, and edged clear by a length. Messier tried hard throughout but ultimately underperformed in a race he let slip from his grasp for Prat/Baffert. The runner-up put blinkers back on in this spot and appeared to be a bit too keen early. He did settle into an okay rhythm but failed to show the brilliance he had in his two previous sprint wins. The top two were 9+ in front of Barossa. Durante was 4th and Olympic Legend eased. The final time was 1:42.33. Overall, I was not impressed with this race as a whole and I doubt we saw the Derby winner here.

Springboard Mile (12-17-21) – Winner: Make It Big ($4.60)

Make It Big stalked outside and prevailed by a half-length in a prolonged battle with my top choice Osbourne. The latter stalked wide from the outside post, led briefly, and was clearly second best in a solid effort. Concept and Classic Moment were 3rd and 4th for Steve Asmussen, but both raced with lasix and did not earn any Derby points. The final time was 1:41.23 for the flat mile affair, and Jose Ortiz rode the Florida shipper for Saffie Joseph Jr. The top two ran quality races but this did not seem like a strong Derby prep.

Gun Runner (12-26-21) – Winner: Epicenter ($7.80)

Epicenter was solid throughout in this new Derby prep. He battled on the pace with Surfer Dude, put that one away, and strolled home by 6+ lengths. Tejano Twist was up for 2nd and Surfer Dude just held 3rd over Kevin’s Folly. The big disappointment was my top choice Rocket Dawg. The latter was rank and failed to settle while chasing the pace, and he faded after wasting all of his energy fighting the rider. The final time was a respectable 1:44.19 and Steve Asmussen trains the winner.

Smarty Jones (1-1-22) – Winner: Dash Attack ($17.40)

This flat mile race was run in the slop and the final time was a slow 1:39.44. Dash Attack broke slow from the rail and rallied outside to score by a two lengths over my top choice Barber Road. The latter ran a decent race from post 10. Ignitis was up for 3rd at 31-1 odds and Kavod chased, led, and weakened to 4th.

Jerome (1-1-22) – Winner: Courvoisier ($10.00)

This flat mile contest was run in the slow and the final time was a less than stellar 1:38.86. Courvosier sat the right stalking trip and staggered home in :27.70 to score by a length and a quarter. Smarten Up rallied from the back to secure the place at 21-1 odds, and beaten favorite Cooke Creek was an even 3rd. Unbridled Bomber was best of the rest in 4th.

Sham (1-1-22) – Winner: Newgrange ($7.40)

Newgrange controlled the pace and was never seriously threatened in a 2+ length victory over his stablemate Rockefeller. The latter chased from 2nd and just edged Oviatt Class for the runner-up spot. Mackinnon stalked from the rail and was an even 4th. He is better on turf. Degree of Risk chased early and weakened to finish well behind the others. The final time for 8f on dirt was 1:38.32.


Kentucky Derby 2022 Points Race Results
Iroquois (10-4-2-1) – Sept. 18 – Winner: Major General ($11.80)
American Pharoah (10-4-2-1) – Oct. 1 – Winner: Corniche ($2.80)
Champagne (10-4-2-1) – Oct. 2 – Winner: Jack Christopher ($5.40)
Breeders’ Futurity (10-4-2-1) – Oct. 9 – Winner: Rattle N Roll ($19.40)
BC Juvenile (20-8-4-2) – Nov. 5 – Winner: Corniche ($4.80)
Ky Jockey Club (10-4-2-1) – Nov. 27 – Winner: Smile Happy ($11.60)
Remsen (10-4-2-1) – Dec. 4 – Winner: Mo Donegal ($4.90)
Los Al Futurity (10-4-2-1) – Dec. 11 – Winner: Slow Down Andy ($12.40)
Springboard Mile (10-4-2-1) – Dec. 17 – Winner: Make It Big ($4.60)
Gun Runner (10-4-2-1) – Dec. 26. – Winner: Epicenter ($7.80)
Smarty Jones (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 1 – Winner: Dash Attack ($17.40)
Jerome (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 1 – Winner: Courvoisier ($10.00)
Sham (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 1 – Winner: Newgrange ($7.40)

Upcoming Derby Points Races
LeComte (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 22
Southwest (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 29
Holy Bull (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 5
Robert B. Lewis (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 5
Sam F. Davis (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 5
Withers (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 12
El Camino Real Derby (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 19
Risen Star (50-20-10-5) – Feb. 19
Rebel (50-20-10-5) – Feb. 26
John Battaglia Memorial (10-4-2-1) – March 5
Fountain of Youth (50-20-10-5) – March 5
San Felipe (50-20-10-5) – March 5
Gotham (50-20-10-5) – March 12
Tampa Bay Derby (50-20-10-5) – March 12
UAE Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 26
Louisiana Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 26
Sunland Derby (50-20-10-5) – March 27
Florida Derby (100-40-20-10) – April 2
Arkansas Derby (100-40-20-10) – April 2
Jeff Ruby Steaks (100-40-20-10) – April 2
Wood Memorial (100-40-20-10) – April 9
Blue Grass (100-40-20-10) – April 9
SA Derby (100-40-20-10) – April 9
Lexington (20-8-4-2) – April 16


Kentucky Derby Points Leaders (thru 1-12-22)

12 Points: Pappacap

10 Points: Rattle N Roll, Jack Christopher, Make It Big, Smile Happy, Slow Down Andy, Major General, Dash Attack, Mo Donegal, Courvoisier, Epicenter

6 Points: Commandperformance, Classic Causeway

4 Points: Double Thunder, Giant Game, Tejano Twist, Oviatt Class, Barber Road, Osbourne, Tough To Tame, Zandon, Smarten Up

2 Points: Wit, Cooke Creek, White Abarrio, Midnight Chrome, Red Knobs, Ignitis, Surfer Dude

1 Point: Mackinnon, Kavod, American Sanctuary, Kevin’s Folly, My Prankster, Ben Diesel, Durante, Mr Jefferson, Bourbon Heist, Unbridled Bomber


Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2022 Contenders (1-12-22)

1 – COMMANDPERFORMANCE (Union Rags – Smitten, by Tapit)

Champagne (G1) runner-up was a better appears 4th in BC Juvenile (G1), and he is all upside for Todd Pletcher. In the latter race, he was shipping across country and trying two turns for the first time, and the pace scenario changed dramatically following the defection of Jack Christopher. Corniche shook loose from the outside post and Commandperformance surprisingly chased the pace. He stayed on well for 4th and won’t be a maiden much longer. No workouts since the BC.

2 – SMILE HAPPY (Runhappy – Pleasant Smile, by Pleasant Tap)

Won both starts at 8.5f including Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). He has a nice blended pedigree with win early sprint influence sire Runhappy and stamina oriented dam sire Pleasant Tap. Plenty to like here and we will see if he continues to progress for Ken McPeek. He has worked twice at Gulfstream Park this year, most recently logging a half-mile in 48.90 on Jan. 8.

3 – CORNICHE (Quality Road – Wasted Tears, by Najran)

Two big G1 route wins for the soon-to-be crowned 2-year-old champ. Bob Baffert’s colt has a high cruising speed and can carry it at least 8.5f. Early speed and the ability to keep on keeping on has proven to be a winning formula in Derby preps and the Derby itself, especially when Baffert is the trainer. Speaking of Baffert, his runners are barred from running in the Kentucky Derby for 2022-23, so I am not sure where that leaves this one. He has yet to have a published workout this year.

4 – ZANDON (Upstart – Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause)

Gave Mo Donegal a real tussle in Remsen. He smartly captured his 6f bow and ran a big one at 9f second time out. In the Remsen, he stalked while out in the clear, grabbed the lead in the lane, and fought back when Mo Donegal passed him in a gritty nose defeat. He was giving up valuable experience last time and should have gotten plenty out of his stakes bow. He has real upside for Chad Brown. He is currently training at Payson Park in Florida, and he fired a half-mile bullet Jan. 9.

5 – MO DONEGAL (Uncle Mo – Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit)

Back-to-back route wins including the Remsen (G2). In that race, he saved ground stalking the pace from the rail, swung out wide in the stretch, gained a short advantage, and dug in and edged Zandon in an exciting stretch battle. He showed nice determination, and Todd Pletcher’s well-bred colt owns fine tactical speed. He has worked three times at Palm Beach Downs since the Remsen including a 5f breeze Jan. 8.

6 – SIR LONDON (Malibu Moon – Seeking Atlantis, by Seeking the Gold)

Settled for the place in his first two sprints and ran off the screen in a flat mile affair at Los Alamitos Race Course Dec. 4. Simon Callaghan’s $700k purchase is targeting the Robert Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita Park on Feb. 6. The pedigree is certainly there and it is a good sign that he fired a big shot in his first route attempt. He had worked twice this year at Santa Anita including a 5f bullet Jan. 8.

7 – JACK CHRISTOPHER (Munnings – Rushin No Blushin, by Half Ours)

Captured both starts in New York including the Champagne (G1). He had shin surgery and was forced to miss the BC Juvenile, and he is back in Chad Brown’s barn in Florida. There is no set plan for his upcoming starts.

8 – GIANT GAME (Giant’s Causeway – Game For More, by More Than Ready)

I was impressed with his forward move over a route of ground at Keeneland second time out, and he shipped to Del Mar and finished a fine 3rd in the BC Juvenile (G1). In the BC, he stalked wide, made an outside bid for the lead in the lane, and was a bit one-paced late. He has worked four times since the BC including back-to-back 5f bullets at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 4 & 11.

9 – MESSIER (Empire Maker, Checkered Past, by Smart Strike)

He should have won the Los Al Futurity but was his own worst enemy. He did not settle like Prat would have hoped and was outfinished late after chasing and taking the lead in the lane. He has worked three times since his Dec. 11 runner-up finish and needs to distribute his energy better next time.

10 – RATTLE N ROLL (Connect – Jazz Time, by Johannesburg)

Exits back-to-back victories at a mile and a sixteenth on dirt including the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland. A foot abscess kept him out of the BC Juvenile and he has yet to return to the worktab.

11 – EPICENTER (Not This Time – Silent Candy, by Candy Ride)

Graduated at one mile under the Twin Spires second time out, and improved again in his prominent throughout romp in the Gun Runner Stakes at 8.5f on Dec. 26. He might go next in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 22, and he might meet current points race leader Pappacap in that 8.5f affair.

​Article by Jarrod Horak

Jarrod Horak

Jarrod Horak posts stakes recaps from Del Mar and Santa Anita Park, along with full card recaps and free stakes picks from Southern and/or Northern California.