Kentucky Derby and Oaks Roundup: March 28, 2022

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March 28th, 2022

Wait—it’s just 40 days until the Kentucky Derby (G1)? And only 39 days until the Kentucky Oaks (G1)?

Spring has officially arrived, and we can practically smell the roses on the first Saturday in May. Let’s catch up on the latest news and notes on the Derby and Oaks trails:

Changes on the Kentucky Derby leaderboard

A busy weekend of high-profile Road to the Kentucky Derby prep races significantly shook up the qualification leaderboard. Here’s how the action unfolded:

  • In the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds, Epicenter showed a new pace-tracking dimension before seizing command to win by 2 1/2 lengths. Previously victorious in the Risen Star S. (G2) and Gun Runner S. on the Road to the Kentucky Derby, Epicenter has vaulted to the top of the leaderboard with 164 points. Louisiana Derby runner-up Zozos (40 points, ninth place), third-place finisher Pioneer of Medina (25 points, 11th place), and fourth-place runner Rattle N Roll (20 points, 13th place) also rank in the Top 20 for the time being.
  • In the UAE Derby (G2) at Meydan in Dubai, Japanese raider Crown Pride tracked the pace before edging away to score by 2 3/4 lengths. The talented Triple Crown nominee earned 100 points to settle in second place on the leaderboard. Runner-up Summer Is Tomorrow secured 40 points, but isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown and doesn’t officially rank on the leaderboard. This means third-place finisher Island Falcon (20 points) has ascended to 15th place.
  • In the Sunland Derby (G3) at Sunland Park, Slow Down Andy survived an intense speed duel to prevail by half a length. Winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) last fall, Slow Down Andy has accumulated 60 qualification points, jumping to fourth place on the leaderboard. Runner-up Bye Bye Bobby (20 points) could rank in 15th place, but isn’t nominated to the Triple Crown.

Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby concludes

The Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby concluded on Saturday with the running of the Fukuryu at Nakayama Racecourse. Three Triple Crown nominees started, but none finished in the top four. Instead, the filly Delicada employed pace-tracking tactics to win by a neck over Notturno, with Peisha Es and Odilon beaten less than one length in third and fourth place.

At the moment, Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leadership belongs to Geraldo Barows (14 points), runner-up in the Hyacinth and third in the Cattleya Sho. But Delicada has 40 points to her credit, and Notturno boasts 16 points, so either one could vault to the top of the leaderboard if they’re made eligible to the Triple Crown.

On the work tab

Barber Road: Breezed half a mile in :49.40 on Sunday at Oaklawn Park.

Classic Causeway: Wrapped up his preparations for the Florida Derby (G1) with a fast half-mile in :47.45 on Saturday at Palm Meadows.

Dash Attack: Traveled five furlongs in a quick 1:00.00 on Saturday at Oaklawn.

Dean’s List: Took a spin over the Belmont Park training track on Saturday, breezing half a mile in :49.07.

Ethereal Road: Clocked five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.20 over a good track on Wednesday at Oaklawn.

Forbidden Kingdom: San Felipe S. (G2) winner returned to the work tab with six furlongs in 1:14.00 on Thursday at Santa Anita.

Golden Code: Traveled half a mile in :48.80 on Saturday at Belmont Park.

Grantham: Took things easy on Saturday at Gulfstream Park, breezing five furlongs in 1:04.06.

Happy Jack: Turned in a quick five-furlong workout on Saturday at Santa Anita, getting the distance in 1:00.80.

In Due Time: Breezed a swift five furlongs in 1:00.05 on Friday at Palm Meadows.

Major General: Went out over the Palm Beach Downs main track on Saturday to breeze four furlongs in :49.39.

Mo Donegal: Took another step toward the Wood Memorial (G2) when clocking five furlongs in a bullet 1:00.85 on Saturday at Palm Beach Downs.

Morello: Breezed five furlongs over the Belmont Park training track in 1:01.60 on Monday.

O Captain: Recorded an easy five-furlong workout on Saturday at Gulfstream, completing the move in 1:03.11.

Pappacap: Blazed a bullet four furlongs in :47.80 on Saturday at the Casse Training Center.

Shipsational: Clocked five furlongs in 1:02.00 on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs.

Simplification: Burned up the Gulfstream Park main track on Saturday, breezing five furlongs in :59.91.

Smile Happy: Traveled half a mile in :48.84 on Sunday at Gulfstream.

Stolen Base: Tackled the Tapeta track at Turfway Park on Saturday for five furlongs in 1:01.60.

Tiz the Bomb: Fired off four furlongs in :47.20 at Keeneland on Saturday.

Un Ojo: Completed his Arkansas Derby (G1) preparations with a half-mile in :48.80 on Saturday at Oaklawn.

Volcanic: Produced a bullet five-furlong workout on Saturday at the Casse Training Center, breezing five furlongs from the starting gate in :59.40.

Zandon: Clocked four furlongs in :48.80 on Saturday at Payson Park.

Road to the Kentucky Oaks

Just like the Derby trail, the Road to the Kentucky Oaks took a couple of major twists last weekend. Here’s how the action affected the leaderboard:

  • The Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) went the way of reigning champion two-year-old filly Echo Zulu (130 points, first place), who returned from a lengthy layoff to lead all the way and win by a nose over Hidden Connection (57 points, fourth place). Favor (20 points, 13th place) and Turnerloose (60 points, second place) completed the superfecta.
  • The Sunland Park Oaks (G3) at Sunland Park saw stretch-running longshots Cleopatras Charge (50 points) and Ali Alley (20 points) capitalize on a destructive pace to rally and finish 1-2. But since neither is nominated to the Kentucky Oaks, third-place finisher Manorelli (10 points, 22nd place) is the only Sunland Park Oaks entrant to officially rank on the leaderboard.

Looking ahead

Another action-packed slate of Derby and Oaks qualifiers is on the agenda for the first weekend in April. Here’s how the schedule will unfold:

  • Saturday, Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park, 100-40-20-10 points: The final leg of Gulfstream’s Kentucky Derby trail is expected to draw Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner Classic Causeway, Fountain of Youth S. (G2) winner Simplification, and Holy Bull S. (G3) hero White Abarrio.
  • Saturday, Arkansas Derby (G1) at Oaklawn Park, 100-40-20-10 points: Nine horses have been entered in Oaklawn’s signature Kentucky Derby prep, including Rebel S. (G2) winner Un Ojo and the exciting filly Secret Oath.
  • Saturday, Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park, 100-40-20-10 points: The last synthetic-track Kentucky Derby prep of the season could feature a matchup between the two previous synthetic-track prep winners: John Battaglia Memorial S. hero Tiz the Bomb and El Camino Real Derby winner Blackadder.
  • Saturday, Gulfstream Park Oaks (G2) at Gulfstream Park, 100-40-20-10: Kentucky Oaks contenders will square off in Gulfstream’s final qualifier. Local Davona Dale S. (G2) winner Kathleen O. is among the potential starters.
  • Saturday, Fantasy S. (G3) at Oaklawn Park, 100-40-20-10: With Secret Oath opting for the Arkansas Derby, Oaklawn’s final Kentucky Oaks prep has drawn a wide-open field. Cincinnati Trophy S. winner Bubble Rock and Golden Rod S. (G2) 1-2 finishers Dream Lith and Yuugiri are among the entrants already ranked on the Kentucky Oaks leaderboard.
  • Saturday, Bourbonette Oaks at Turfway Park, 50-20-10-5: The field is still in flux for the second of two synthetic-track Kentucky Oaks qualifiers. We’ll have to wait for final entries to see the list of contenders.

In addition, the European Road to the Kentucky Derby concludes on Thursday with the Cardinal Conditions S. at Chelmsford City. The race awards points on a 30-12-6-3 basis to the top four finishers, but none of the 13 early entrants are currently nominated to the Triple Crown.