Derby Trail Update – 2/13/22 – By Eric Solomon

There were some significant performances over the last few days that are worth noting as we inch closer to the first Saturday in May. Ten Derby points were awarded at Tampa, but not at Golden Gate. For the fifth time during this prep season, first place points that were on the table were not awarded, as a Bob Baffert trained horse won the race, but was not eligible to earn points, as horses trained by him are currently not permitted to run in the Derby. The third future wager through Churchill Downs closes this afternoon, so we’ll take a quick look at the odds there and if there is value to be had on any of the runners there.

 

 

Another score for the Kentucky Jockey Club

The Grade 3 Sam F. Davis on Saturday 2/12 at Tampa Bay Downs drew a full field that was as deep as I’ve seen for that race in recent memory. Classic Causeway was heavily backed, going off at 7-5, which felt way too short for me in this race, but he did not disappoint his backers. He broke sharply, hitting the front in just a few strides. There was a lot of pace signed on, but several of the others that looked to have interest in engaging in the pace battle of the front end, weren’t able or willing to keep up in the early going. Classic Causeway set legitimate early fractions, while being hounded by the stretch out sprinter, Little Vic. He put that one away at the quarter pole and kept finding throughout the stretch, drawing away to win by 3 and ¾ lengths on the wire. The final time was 1:42:80 for the mile and one-sixteenth distance, which was good enough to earn an 88 Beyer figure in his first start as a three year old. The New York bred, Shipsational, ran on well from the back of the pack to get second, while coming from farther back than he ever had to do before and conceding ground on both turns. That was a good effort for him to build off of, and I am wondering if they’d be targeting a race like the Wood Memorial in April for him. 

The bigger story from this race to me is the continued success of horses that ran in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs on November 27th. Classic Causeway joins White Abarrio and Call Me Midnight as next out Grade 3 winners from that race. The decisive winner of that race, Smile Happy, who earned the best Thorograph figure from any of the contenders thus far with that win, is entered in the Risen Star on Saturday 2/19 at the Fair Groumds. That race is absolutely loaded, and we’ll have the horse by horse preview for that race posted on the blog by Friday. 

The Points Not Awarded

Rombauer won the El Camino Real Derby in 2021 en route to a Preakness victory three months later. That performance gave a lot of credibility to this Derby points race, which, due to being run on a synthetic surface, is typically an afterthought. This years race was headlined by two-time turf stakes winner, Mackinnon. He was trying the synthetic surface for the first time after a fourth place finish on dirt last out in the Grade 3 Sham Stakes. He didn’t really get the trip his connections were hoping for as he was bumped at the start, losing position early. He was able to use his inside position to secure a decent 5th place spot heading into the backstretch. He tipped out four wide and surged to the front coming off the final turn, but Blackadder sat a better trip and found clear daylight in between horses. He surged late and got up in time to win by a measured neck. Being trained by Bob Baffert, Blackadder is not eligible to earn the 10 points that went to the winner of this race. That makes 60 points that have not been awarded to winners of five Derby Points races so far. Those missing points are going to make the minor awards much more valuable in the bigger points races starting next week. It should also increase the importance of the wild card race, The Lexington at Keeneland, in April. Moving forward, Blackadder now has a spot in the gate in Preakness if he wants it, however, I’m reasonably sure the Derby winner wasn’t running in Albany, California yesterday. 

Breakout Efforts

On Friday, we saw a dominating performance at Oaklawn from Zozos, making his first start at two turns in a nice allowance contest. He debuted a winner at the Fair Grounds in a sprint on January 23rd for Brad Cox. He came back three weeks later to dominate this one mile and one-sixteenth race by over ten lengths, earning an 88 Beyer speed figure. Cox said races like the Blue Grass, Louisiana Derby, and Arkansas Derby are all in play for this three year old son of Munnings. 

Last month, Charge It dueled with Volcanic (Third Place finisher in the Sam F. Davis) for the majority of the one maiden special weight race at Gulfstream. Neither colt deserved to lose, but Volcanic got the narrow victory. Charge It came back at the same condition on Saturday 2/12 at Gulfstream and embarrassed an overmatched field by over eight lengths in front running style. He earned a 93 Beyer figure, which is certainly a legitimate number right now. Pletcher said a Derby Prep race is likely on the horizon for this Tapit colt that should continue to improve at two turns. 

Derby Future Wager, Pool 3

Comparing the figures at 3:30, with the pools closing at 6:00 EST tonight, the future books are typically offering better value than the Derby Wager. I’m certain the number has gone down on Classic Causeway from the 40-1 yesterday morning at Circa, but I’m having trouble getting the latest odds to load. The big mover this weekend was Charge It that opened at 200-1 and is now sitting at 40-1 at Circa. He’ll certainly be in Field 4, but for now, 2-1 on the FIELD is the best we can in Pool 3 if you’re sold on him. . 

Speaking to the depth of the Grade 2 Risen Star next weekend, five of the ten entered in that race are on the board here (Pappacap, Epicenter, Zandon, Smile Happy, and Slow Down Andy). Three of those five have won a Derby Points race so far. Call Me Midnight, who won the Lecomte, is the notable omission from this list, as he’s planning to wait for the Louisiana Derby to make his final start. 

 

Horse Circa Future Odds Current Derby Future Wager Odds
  • Barber Road
70-1 61-1
  • Call Me Midnight
100-1 56-1
  • Chasing Time
22-1 21-1
  • Classic Causeway
40-1* 12-1
  • Commandperformance
30-1 37-1
  • Early Voting
50-1 18-1
  • Emmanuel
16-1 18-1
  • Epicenter
25-1 26-1
  • Forbidden Kingdom
22-1 17-1
  • God of Love
35-1 56-1
  • Happy Boy Rocket
N/A 70-1
  • Howling Time
175-1 80-1
  • In Due Time
70-1 38-1
  • Major General
45-1 31-1
  • Make It Big
100-1 78-1
  • Mo Donegal
17-1 12-1
  • Pappacap
50-1 28-1
  • Rattle N Roll
16-1 20-1
  • Simplification
80-1 44-1
  • Slow Down Andy
30-1 23-1
  • Smile Happy
15-1 7-1
  • White Abarrio
45-1 18-1
  • Zandon
28-1 20-1
  • FIELD
N/A 2-1

 

Each week, we’ll have an update on horses and races from the previous week that may produce starters for the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 7th, 2022. Current futures odds from Circa or Caesars-William Hill will be provided as they are available. Feel free to reach out on Twitter @EricSolomon718.

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