***Updated after Monday’s draw with positions and morning-line odds
With the Road to the Kentucky Derby now completed, and the final points all tallied, the 2022 Run for the Roses is coming into sharper focus.
Louisiana Derby (G2) hero Epicenter, who tops the leaderboard with a grand total of 164 points, will be one of the favorites on the first Saturday in May. The 9-2 favorite in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Epicenter will try to give Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen his first Kentucky Derby victory.
The next two in the points standings likewise represent prominent horsemen seeking their first Derby wins. Four-time Eclipse Award champion Chad Brown has 3-1 morning-line favorite Zandon (114 points), and White Abarrio (112) hails from the barn of Saffie Joseph.
Mo Donegal (112 points) spearheads the team for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, a two-time Derby winner. Kenny McPeek renews his Derby quest with two in the top 10, Tiz the Bomb and Smile Happy.
Brad Cox recently became a Derby-winning trainer when Mandaloun was promoted by the disqualification of Medina Spirit. Now he has as many as three chances to go back-to-back, with Cyberknife, Zozos, and Tawny Port.
Tim Yakteen, who received several high-profile transfers from the suspended Bob Baffert, has potential history-maker Taiba and Messier.
Although the Japan and European Roads have not yielded any contenders, the UAE Derby (G2) exacta advances to Churchill Downs – Japanese hope Crown Pride and Dubai-based Summer Is Tomorrow.
Here’s the field for Derby 148, in points order, followed by the also-eligibles needing defections to get into the 20-horse starting gate. If horses have the same number of points, the tiebreak is non-restricted stakes earnings. Then career earnings come into play if a second tiebreak is needed.
148th Kentucky Derby
Epicenter (164 points), Post 3, 7-2
The king of Fair Grounds nearly swept the four preps in New Orleans, taking the Louisiana Derby, Risen Star (G2), and Gun Runner S. and just missed in the Lecomte (G3).
Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Joel Rosario
Pedigree: Not This Time-Silent Candy, by Candy Ride
Zandon (114 points), Post 10, 3-1
Blue Grass (G1) winner was emphatic after commendable placings in the Remsen (G2) and Risen Star.
Owner: Jeff Drown; Trainer: Chad Brown; Jockey: Flavien Prat
Pedigree: Upstart-Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause
White Abarrio (112 points), Post 15, 10-1
Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull (G3) romper is unbeaten at Gulfstream Park.
Owners: C2 Racing Stable & La Milagrosa Stable; Trainer: Saffie Joseph; Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione
Pedigree: Race Day-Catching Diamonds, by Into Mischief
Mo Donegal (110 points), Post 1, 10-1
Wood Memorial (G2) winner was returning to the scene of his prior career high in the Remsen.
Owner: Donegal Racing; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Irad Ortiz
Pedigree: Uncle Mo-Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit
Tiz the Bomb (110 points), Post 9, 30-1
Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) conqueror aims to transfer his all-weather (and juvenile turf) form to dirt.
Owner: Magdalena Racing; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: Brian Hernandez
Pedigree: Hit It a Bomb-Tiz the Key, by Tiznow
Cyberknife (100 points), Post 16, 20-1
Highly-regarded but mentally immature colt put it all together in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Owner: Gold Square; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Florent Geroux
Pedigree: Gun Runner-Awesome Flower, by Flower Alley
Crown Pride (100 points), Post 7, 20-1
Once-beaten Japanese colt rallied stoutly as a 16-1 overlay in the UAE Derby.
Owner: Teruya Yoshida; Trainer: Koichi Shintani; Jockey: Christophe Lemaire
Pedigree: Reach the Crown-Emmy’s Pride, by King Kamehameha
Taiba (100 points), Post 12, 12-1
Santa Anita Derby (G1) star will try to become the first horse since 1883 to win the Derby in just his third career start.
Owner: Zedan Racing Stables; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: Mike Smith
Pedigree: Gun Runner-Needmore Flattery, by Flatter
Simplification (74 points), Post 13, 20-1
Fountain of Youth (G2) score was bookended by solid placings in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby.
Owner: Tami Bobo; Trainer: Antonio Sano; Jockey: Jose Ortiz
Pedigree: Not This Time-Simply Confection, by Candy Ride
Smile Happy (70 points), Post 5, 20-1
Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) romper has since played second fiddle in the Risen Star and Blue Grass.
Owner: Lucky Seven Stable; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: Corey Lanerie
Pedigree: Runhappy-Pleasant Smile, by Pleasant Tap
Classic Causeway (66 points), Post 17, 30-1
Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero, reportedly off the trail after fading to last in the Florida Derby, is suddenly back in consideration as of April 25.
Owners: Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper; Trainer: Brian Lynch; Jockey: Julien Leparoux
Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway-Private World, by Thunder Gulch
Tawny Port (60 points), Post 18, 30-1
Lexington (G3) winner proved his dirt aptitude by capturing the final scoring race.
Owner: Peachtree Stable; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Ricardo Santana
Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Livi Makenzie, by Macho Uno
Barber Road (58 points), Post 14, 30-1
Arkansas Derby runner-up has placed in all four prep races at Oaklawn Park.
Owner: WSS Racing; Trainer: John Ortiz; Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez
Pedigree: Race Day-Encounter, by Southern Image
Messier (40 points), Post 6, 8-1
Santa Anita Derby runner-up had run away with the Bob Lewis (G3) in his prior start.
Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, et al; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: John Velazquez
Pedigree: Empire Maker-Checkered Past, by Smart Strike
Zozos (40 points), Post 19, 20-1
Louisiana Derby runner-up promises to add to the Derby pace.
Owners: Barry & Joni Butzow; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Manny Franco
Pedigree: Munnings-Papa’s Forest, by Forestry
Summer Is Tomorrow (40 points), Post 4, 30-1
Speedy colt beat all bar Crown Pride in the UAE Derby.
Owners: Michael Hilary Burke & Negar Burke; Trainer: Bhupat Seemar; Jockey: Mickael Barzalona
Pedigree: Summer Front-Always Tomorrow, by Badge of Silver
Charge It (40 points), Post 8, 20-1
Blueblood stands to benefit from a learning-curve second in the Florida Derby.
Owner: Whisper Hill Farm; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Luis Saez
Pedigree: Tapit-I’ll Take Charge, by Indian Charlie
Happy Jack (30 points), Post 2, 30-1
Remote thirds in the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe (G2) are enough to make the cut.
Owner: Calumet Farm; Trainer: Doug O’Neill; Jockey: Rafael Bejarano
Pedigree: Oxbow-Tapitstry, by Tapit
Pioneer of Medina (25 points), Post 11, 30-1
Louisiana Derby third was earlier fourth in the Risen Star.
Owner: Sumaya U.S. Stables; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Joe Bravo
Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Lights of Medina, by Eskendereya
SCRATCHED Ethereal Road (22 points), Post 20, 30-1
Rebel near-misser wheeled back from a seventh in the Blue Grass to take fourth in the Lexington.
Owners: Julie Gilbert & Aaron Sones; Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas; Jockey: Luis Contreras
Pedigree: Quality Road-Sustained, by War Front
No. 21 Rich Strike (21 points), 30-1
Jeff Ruby Steaks third was previously fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial, also over the Turfway Tapeta, and draws into the Derby with the Friday morning scratch of Ethereal Road.
Owner: RED TR-Racing; Trainer: Eric Reed; Jockey: Sonny Leon
Pedigree: Keen Ice-Gold Strike, by Smart Strike
SCRATCHED No. 22 Rattle N Roll (20 points), 30-1
Breeders’ Futurity (G1) star has failed to hit the trifecta this term, coming closest when fourth in the Louisiana Derby.
Owner: Lucky Seven Stable; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: James Graham
Pedigree: Connect-Jazz Tune, by Johannesburg