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Epicenter continued his sharp form at Fair Grounds and showed a new dimension in a smart stalking victory in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He captured the Risen Star (G2) in front running fashion at 9f, and proved he could pass horses at 9.5f in the LA Derby. His newfound versatility makes him a viable early-pressing win contender on the first Saturday in May.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Points Race Results

LA Derby (3-26-22) – Winner: Epicenter ($4.00)

Epicenter looked like the controlling speed on paper, but Zozos took the early initiative from an inner post under Geroux. Pioneer of Medina chased outside from 2nd and Epicenter rated in 3rd while racing inside under Rosario. There was not much change at the top until the stretch. At this point, Epicenter tipped outside, struck the front, and won easily by 2-1/2 lengths. Zozos was second best and Pioneer of Medina was a clear 3rd. Rattle N Roll just got up for 4th over Galt. Lecomte winner Call Me Midnight never got involved from off the pace in 6th, and was followed by Kupuna, Curly Tail, and Silent Power. The final time for 9.5f was 1:54.38, and that was a new track record.

UAE Derby (3-26-22) – Winner: Crown Pride (JPN)

Horses from the UAE Derby have never had any success in the Kentucky Derby. Crown Pride (JPN) will try to change that after picking up 100 Derby points in an off the pace 2-3/4ths length victory at 9.5f in Dubai. Summer Is Tomorrow attended the pace and held the place. Island Falcon was 3rd and Bendoog was 4th. Highly regarded USA runners Gilded Age (13th) and Pinehurst (16th) disappointed. Note that two other Japanese shippers previously ran in the Kentucky Derby. Lani finished 9th in 2016 and Master Fencer was 6th in 2019.

Sunland Derby (3-27-22) – Winner: Slow Down Andy ($4.40)

Slow Down Andy and Straight Up G dueled through quick splits of 22.30, 45.35, and 1:09.54. Bye Bye Bobby sat a perfect stalking trip behind those two. Straight Up G was the first to crack. Slow Down Andy started to edge away but was quickly confronted by Bye Bye Bobby. It looked briefly like the latter would win, but Slow Down Andy switched leads, refused to give up, and scored by a hard fought half-length. Bye Bye Bobby finished 8+ clear of Pepper Spray and Fowler Blue. Chrome King, Costa Terra, and Straight Up G were next, and Classic Moment chased inside, dropped back, pulled up, and was vanned off. The final time for 9f was 1:50.16. I doubt we saw the Derby winner here but Slow Down Andy did flatter the form of Messier and the Risen Star Stakes (G2).


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)
Lecomte (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 22 – Winner: Call Me Midnight ($59.00)
Southwest (10-4-2-1) – Jan. 29 – Winner: Newgrange ($5.00)
Withers (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 5 – Winner: Early Voting ($4.60)
Holy Bull (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 5 – Winner: White Abarrio ($14.00)
Robert Lewis (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 6 – Winner: Messier ($3.20)
Sam F. Davis (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 12 – Winner: Classic Causeway ($5.20)
El Camino Real Derby (10-4-2-1) – Feb. 12 – Winner: Blackadder ($9.60)
Risen Star (50-20-10-5) – Feb, 19 – Winner: Epicenter ($9.00)
Rebel (50-20-10-5) – Feb. 26 – Winner: Un Ojo ($152.80)
John Battaglia Memorial (10-4-2-1) – March 5 – Winner: Tiz the Bomb ($5.20)
Fountain of Youth (50-20-10-5) – March 5 – Winner: Simplification ($7.00)
Gotham (50-20-10-5) – March 5 – Winner: Morello ($4.00)
San Felipe (50-20-10-5) – March 5 – Winner: Forbidden Kingdom ($4.00)
Tampa Bay Derby – March 12 – Classic Causeway ($3.60)
UAE Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 26 – Crown Pride (JPN)
Louisiana Derby (100-40-20-10) – March 26 – Epicenter ($4.00)
Sunland Derby (50-20-10-5) – March 27 – Slow Down Andy ($4.40)

Upcoming Derby Points Races
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


Top 40 Kentucky Derby Points Leaders (thru 4-1-22)

164 Points: Epicenter

100 Points: Crown Pride (JPN)

66 Points: Classic Causeway

60 Points: Slow Down Andy

54 Points: Un Ojo, Simplification

50 Points: Forbidden Kingdom, Morello

40 Points: Zozos

30 Points: Smile Happy

25 Points: Pioneer of Medina

21 Points: Grantham

20 Points: Rattle N Roll, Ethereal Road, Island Falcon (IRE), In Due Time, Dean’s List

18 Points: Barber Road

14 Points: Pappacap, Zandon, Shipsational

12 Points: White Abarrio, Mo Donegal

10 Points: Tiz the Bomb, Major General, Dash Attack, Early Voting, Call Me Midnight, Courvoisier, Happy Jack, O Captain, Golden Code

7 Points: Kavod

6 Points: Commandperformance

5 Points: Life is Great, Golden Glider, Fowler Blue, Emmanuel

4 Points: Giant Game, Cabo Spirit


Jarrod Horak’s “Exceptional Eleven” Kentucky Derby 2022 Contenders (4-1-22)

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

He won what was arguably the top juvenile points race last year. He was sharp in that victory in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), and three runners from that heat have won four Derby points races this year (Call Me Midnight, White Abarrio, Classic Causeway). He made his 3yo bow in the Risen Star (G2) and ran well without winning, and two runners from that heat have won subsequent Derby points races (Epicenter, Slow Down Andy). He has worked four times since the Risen Star including a 5f bullet at Gulfstream Park on March 19 (58.81 – best of 28). They have landed on the April 9 Blue Grass (G2) as his final Derby prep.

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

Improved nicely in his prominent throughout romp in the Gun Runner Stakes at 8.5f on Dec. 26. He came right back in the Lecomte (G3) at Fair Grounds on Jan. 22, and he carved out above par fractions, turned away multiple challenges, and was nailed on the line by longshot closer Call Me Midnight. He lost nothing in defeat in the Lecomte, and he really put it all together with a strong front running victory in the Risen Star (G2) at 9f. Quality early-pressing types will make you pay if you hand them an easy lead through comfortable fractions, and he did just that on Feb. 19. The LA Derby was his final Derby prep, and instead of setting the pace, he settled inside stalking the early leaders, and he tipped out and rolled home to another easy victory. This is not really a knock, but it is more like a nagging feeling that he is peaking too soon. He ran well in points race routes on Dec. 26, Jan. 22, Feb. 19, and March 26. It is tough to run so many hard races in a relatively short timeframe without regressing.

3 – WHITE ABARRIO (Race Day – Catching Diamonds, by Into Mischief)

He is a perfect 3-for 3 at Gulfstream Park, and his only career loss was a show finish in the highly productive Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2). His early-pressing speed always leads to a favorable journey, and he sat in 2nd before taking over in a sharp win in the Holy Bull (G3). He skipped the Fountain of Youth and will make his final points race appearance in the Florida Derby (G1) on April 2. He stretched his legs five times since the Holy Bull including a 3f bullet in 34.96 on March 29.

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

He gave Mo Donegal a real tussle in the Remsen (G2). In the latter event, he stalked slow fractions 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 originally slated to go in the Holy Bull (G3), but his connections called an audible and opted for the Risen Star (G2). In the 9f affair at Fair Grounds, he was expected to stalk the pace but lunged at the start and was away last. He made a nice, long run from off the pace and ended up a solid 3rd. That race should have done wonders from a fitness standpoint and he might move up in a big way next time. Chad Brown has penciled in the April 9 Blue Grass (G2) for his next assignment. He has breezed five times since his last start including a solid half-mile at Payson Park on April 1 (48.60).

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 made his sophomore bow in the Holy Bull (G3), and he rallied for the show in a rock solid effort. He was entered in the March 5 Fountain of Youth (G2), but he drew post 12 and came down with a fever, so he was removed from that event. He returned to work March 19 and drilled a 5f bullet March 26. He is expected to contest the Wood Memorial (G2) on April 9.

6 – FORBIDDEN KINGDOM (American Pharoah – Just Louise, by Five Star Day)

He sure looked sharp in his seven panel return in the San Vicente (G2). In that affair, he got to the front from the inside post and stayed clear throughout in a nice 2-1/4 length score over Baffert trainees Pinehurst (next-out winner in G3 Saudi Derby), McLaren Vale, and Doppelganger. He was firing three bullets in advance of the San Felipe (G2) at Santa Anita on March 5, and he used his blazing easy speed to run them off their feet in that spot. The waters get deeper in the SA Derby (G1), and he is going to need to distribute his energy more efficiently if he expects to handle 9f and beyond. He worked twice since his last including an easy 7f move on March 31.

7 – CLASSIC CAUSEWAY (Giant’s Causeway – Private World, by Thunder Gulch)

He started his sophomore campaign the right way with an easy front running victory in the Sam F. Davis (G3), and he followed that up when controlling the pace and cruising again in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). He broke sharply in his last pair and that was the key to his success in those races. After those quick starts, he utilized his high cruising speed to keep the others at bay. Brian Lynch called an audible and decided on the Florida Derby instead of the Blue Grass for his final Derby prep.

8 – CHARGE IT (Tapit – I’ll Take Charge, by Indian Charlie)

He missed by a neck while 12+ clear of the show in his flat mile debut at the Gulf Jan. 8. Volcanic beat him that day and came back and finished 3rd in the Sam F. Davis (G3). Pletcher’s promising colt resurfaced in a one mile MSW affair Feb. 12, and he set the pace and was much the best, and the final time was a good 1:35.55. He has been working in company with older stakes runners Promise Keeper and Fearless, and he more than held his own in those moves. The Florida Derby (G1) on April 2 is his next assignment.

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

He showed marked improvement from the 2021 Los Al Futurity (G2) to the 2022 Robert Lewis Stakes (G3). In the latter race, he got to the front early, opened up, and won by the length of the stretch in a visually impressive and fast winning performance, and that was the quickest Derby prep of the year. He has worked five times since his last and the SA Derby (G1) is his next engagement. Since Baffert runners are banned from competing in the Kentucky Derby (G1) this year, he has moved to the Tim Yakteen barn in hopes of qualifying for a spot in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.

10 – SIMPLIFICATION (Not This Time – Simply Confection, by Candy Ride)

His versatility is his biggest asset, but just like Epicenter, he may have already peaked. He wired the field in the Mucho Macho Man Jan. 1, stumbled at the start and rallied for 2nd in the Holy Bull (G3) Feb. 5, and rallied to win a less than stellar renewal of the Fountain of Youth (G1). He goes next in the April 2 Florida Derby (G1), and he is the morning line favorite.

11 – MORELLO (Classic Empire – Stop the Wedding, by Congrats)

Asmussen’s early-pressing colt captured all three starts. He stalked and scored in his 6f bow, and duplicated that feat in the 7f Jimmy Winkfield. In the Gotham (G3) at one mile around one turn, he chased the pace and pulled away in the lane. He got back to work at Belmont Park (dirt training) March 14, and the April 9 Wood Memorial (G2) is the next logical step. We will learn much more about him in that 9f affair. He shows back-to-back training track bullets at Belmont Park on March 21 and March 28.

Next Nine: (12) Early Voting, (13) Zozos, (14) Slow Down Andy, (15) Crown Pride, (16) Un Ojo, (17) Zozos, (18) Grantham, (19) Cyberknife, (20) Emmanuel

​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.