It all starts today: the first of forty-eight races that carry points to qualify for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Thirty-seven of them are in the U.S., seven in Europe, and four in Japan. All the points are tiered, meaning the races all have different values for the top four finishers of each race. Today's race, the Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs, is distributed 10-4-2-1. That will be Race 9 on today's program. Some races in March and April of next year rise to 100-40-20-10.
This year's path will have some of the same ups and downs as year's past. At least one thing we won't have this year is a Derby horse trained by Bob Baffert, owing to the Churchill Downs rulings. The first was the suspension of Bob Baffert from Churchill Downs for two years. The second ruling, which came last week, basically says Bob Baffert's horses can't earn points on the path to the Kentucky Derby and to switch trainers to run in the race.
As a bettor and fan, my advice would be to look at the schedule at www.kentuckyderby.com and make sure you watch all the races and come to your own conclusions. Replays are key as well. Don't just listen to the hype and overreactions, as there will be plenty of that. Rather, form your own opinion and be ready to go for the first Saturday in May.
Predictions for the Iroquois Stakes: I will go with #11 BOURBON HEAT on top, who I think will get enough pace to close into and win. You also have to use the two Steve Asmussen horses as well: ML favorite #6 STELLAR TAP and #9 GUNTOWN. Good luck and enjoy the path to the 2022 Kentucky Derby.