Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: April 4, 2022

Profile Picture: J. Keeler Johnson

April 5th, 2022

Barely more than one month remains until the Kentucky Derby (G1) on the first Saturday in May. The Kentucky Oaks (G1), held one day prior, is also rapidly approaching.

News and notes are coming fast and furious, so let’s dive in and see what’s happening.

Changes on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard

A trio of Kentucky Derby qualifiers worth 100-40-20-10 points to the top four finishers took place around the country last week. Here’s how the action affected the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard:

  • In the Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, White Abarrio rallied from just off a hot pace to score by 1 1/4 lengths, bringing his record this season to a perfect 2-for-2. Previously victorious in the Holy Bull S. (G3) and third in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, White Abarrio has accumulated 112 points, ranking second on the leaderboard. Charge It (40 points, 15th place), Simplification (74 points, sixth place) and Pappacap (24 points, 19th place) rounded out the Florida Derby superfecta. All four currently occupy Kentucky Derby qualifying spots, though Pappacap is in danger of falling off next week.
  • In the Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, the improving Cyberknife sprung a mild surprise, settling in fourth place early on before pouncing to a 2 3/4-length triumph. The Brad Cox trainee debuts in fourth place on the leaderboard with 100 points. Arkansas Derby runner-up Barber Road (58 points, ninth place) looks safe for qualifying, while the filly Secret Oath (20 points, 22nd place) is currently on the outside looking in after coming home third at Oaklawn.
  • In the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, Tiz the Bomb proved comfortably best, rallying from midpack to prevail by 2 1/4 lengths over a large field. Having previously won the John Battaglia Memorial S. on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Tiz the Bomb owns 110 points, ranking third on the leaderboard. Jeff Ruby runner-up Tawny Port (40 points, 16th place) is also positioned for Derby qualification, but third-place finisher Rich Strike (21 points, 21st place) hasn’t yet cracked the Top 20.

European Road to the Kentucky Derby concludes

The European Road to the Kentucky Derby wrapped up last Thursday with the running of the Cardinal Condition Stakes at Chelmsford City in England. Contested over one mile on a synthetic track, the race produced an unexpected outcome as Dark Moon Rising — returning from a long layoff after competing on grass last season — employed forwardly placed racing tactics to beat favorites Harrow, Find, and Blue Trail by 1 1/4 lengths.

Winning the Cardinal Condition Stakes gave Dark Moon Rising 30 qualification points, more than any other horse who competed in the seven-race series. But in the end, none of the points earners from the European Road to the Kentucky Derby have been nominated to the Triple Crown, so it appears unlikely the series will produce a Derby starter in 2022.

Late Triple Crown nominees announced

The window for late nominations to the Triple Crown closed last Monday, and the names of seven late nominees were released on Wednesday. Leading the charge is UAE Derby (G2) runner-up Summer Is Tomorrow, who currently ranks 14th on the Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard with 40 points.

The complete list of late nominees is as follows:

  • Azure Coast
  • Bye Bye Bobby
  • O Captain
  • Shake Em Loose
  • Skippylongstocking
  • Summer Is Tomorrow
  • Win the Day

On the work tab

Dash Attack: Breezed four furlongs in :49.80 on Saturday at Churchill Downs.

Dean’s List: Clocked an easy half-mile in :50.32 over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday.

Ethereal Road: Tackled a good track on Thursday at Oaklawn Park and breezed five furlongs in a fast :59.60.

Forbidden Kingdom: Turned in a stiff seven-furlong workout on Thursday at Santa Anita, completing the move in 1:26.60.

Golden Code: Breezed four furlongs in :49.55 on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Grantham: Posted a half-mile workout on Sunday at Keeneland, getting the distance in :48.60.

Happy Jack: Clocked six furlongs in 1:14.20 on Saturday at Santa Anita.

In Due Time: Cruised five furlongs in 1:01.05 on Friday at Palm Meadows.

Major General: Took a spin at Palm Beach Downs on Friday, breezing five furlongs in 1:01.73.

Mo Donegal: Produced a bullet workout on Saturday at Palm Beach Downs, clocking five furlongs in 1:00.68.

Newgrange: Turned in a quick half-mile workout on Sunday at Santa Anita, completing the move in :47.80.

Smile Happy: Traversed four furlongs in :49.52 at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

Volcanic: Took things easy over the Keeneland main track on Sunday, negotiating an easy half-mile in :51.40.

Zandon: Turned in a fast four-furlong workout on Friday at Payson Park, getting the distance in :48.60.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks updates

In addition to last week’s action on the Derby trail, a trio of Road to the Kentucky Oaks prep races took place. Let’s catch up on the results:

  • In the Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2), Kathleen O. (150 points, first place) unleashed a sustained rally from off the pace to beat Goddess of Fire (62 points, fifth place) in comfortable fashion, bringing her career record to a perfect 4-for-4. A three-time stakes winner conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey, Kathleen O. is progressing in the right direction and could potentially start as the favorite in the Kentucky Oaks.
  • In the Fantasy S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, Yuugiri (114 points, third place) led every step of the way and gamely turned back a challenge from Beguine (40 points, not a Kentucky Oaks nominee) to preserve a neck victory. Cincinnati Trophy S. winner Bubble Rock (30 points, 11th place) finished third in her dirt debut, beaten 3 1/4 lengths.
  • In the Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, Candy Raid (51 points, ninth place) produced a breathtaking rally from last place to dominate by 4 1/2 lengths at odds of 52-1. Tap Dancing Lady (17 points) and Catiche (15 points) finished in a dead-heat for second, but neither is nominated to the Kentucky Oaks.

In addition, the 20 Kentucky Derby qualification points Secret Oath accumulated when finishing third in the Kentucky Derby (G1) count toward her Kentucky Oaks total. She currently sits fourth on the leaderboard with 80 points.

Looking ahead

The Derby trail reaches its zenith and the Oaks trail comes to a conclusion across a slate of seven qualifiers this week. Here’s how the coast-to-coast action will unfold:

  • Friday, Ashland S. (G1) at Keeneland, 100-40-20-10: Keeneland’s signature Kentucky Oaks qualifier is expected to draw Demoiselle S. (G2) winner Nest and Santa Ynez S. (G2) runner-up Awake At Midnyte in a battle of talented sophomore fillies from around the country.
  • Saturday, Blue Grass S. (G1) at Keeneland, 100-40-20-10 points: The Blue Grass has produced 23 Kentucky Derby winners through the years, and the 2022 edition is coming up strong with Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) winner Smile Happy squaring off against Rebel S. (G2) runner-up Ethereal Road, Risen Star S. (G2) third-place finish Zandon, Tampa Bay Derby (G2) runner-up Grantham, allowance winner Emmanuel, and El Camino Real Derby hero Blackadder, to name just a few. All will need at least some points to earn a Derby start.
  • Saturday, Santa Anita Derby (G1) at Santa Anita, 100-40-20-10 points: In a showdown of elite Kentucky Derby contenders, speedy San Felipe S. (G2) winner Forbidden Kingdom will meet powerful Robert B. Lewis S. (G3) winner Messier (now with Tim Yakteen and thus eligible for points for the first time) in Santa Anita’s final Kentucky Derby prep.
  • Saturday, Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct, 100-40-20-10 points: Remsen S. (G2) winner Mo Donegal, Withers S. (G3) hero Early Voting, and Gotham S. (G3) winner Morello have all won Kentucky Derby qualifiers at Aqueduct, setting the stage for a thrilling showdown in Aqueduct’s final Derby prep.
  • Saturday, Gazelle S. (G3) at Aqueduct, 100-40-20-10: Busher S. winner Venti Valentine is the main name targeting Aqueduct’s final Kentucky Oaks qualifier. Shotgun Hottie, runner-up in the Busher, is also expected to compete.
  • Saturday, Santa Anita Oaks (G2) at Santa Anita, 100-40-20-10: Runaway Las Virgenes S. (G3) winner Adare Manor looms as the filly to beat in this lucrative Kentucky Oaks qualifier. Last year’s Chandelier S. (G2) winner Ain’t Easy could also join the field.
  • Sunday, Beaumont S. (G3) at Keeneland, 10-4-2-1: The field is still in flux for this seven-furlong Kentucky Oaks qualifier, but Cicada S. winner Lady Scarlet and Fair Grounds allowance winner Matareya are among the expected starters.