Early Road to the Kentucky Derby

Horse Racing Radar
Shawn Drupp
Shawn Drupp is a Staff writer for Horse Racing Radar
Friday, October 1, 2021

There are two more prep races this weekend that offer points to qualify for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. The first one is the Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes on Friday, Opening Day at Santa Anita. The other one is the Grade 1 Champagne Stakes on Saturday at Belmont Park. 

Both races reward 10 points to the winner, 4 to second, and 2 to third. It's never too early to start paying attention and making your notes so you are prepared for Derby day. Just remember it's a long road and there will be plenty of ups, downs, and overreactions. Let's see if we can find some winners for these two races.

The Grade 1 American Pharoah Stakes- entries here:

There is a lot of speed and talent in this race, pretty typical for a Grade 1 for two-year-olds. Bob Baffert trains three of the seven horses. My top pick will be no surprise, the #1 CORNICHE, who was so impressive on debut. He had plenty at the finish, and had a lot more in the tank to go further. The #4 OVIATT CLASS will be my second pick who I think has the best chance to upset the ML favorite. This horse likes to close and will get plenty of speed to run at. He's also the only horse to go a route distance twice, so the distance will not be an issue. To round out my trifecta, I will go with #7 PAPPACAP, who won his first two races of his career before getting fourth last race. This horse is bred to go long and has been working out really well.

The Grade 1 Champagne- entries here

A bunch of speed and talent in this race as well. Todd Pletcher has half the field with three of the six horses.  My top pick is #2 MY PRANKSTER, who was so impressive in debut. That race was at six and half furlongs and he sat off the pace and then drew off. He is bred to go longer, so this could be another impressive performance. #3 JACK CHRISTOPHER is the ML favorite and was another that was really impressive and will be tough. The #5 GUNITE is the most experienced horse in the field. He beat the second choice #1 WIT last time out and is always around at the end.

It's always important to find a winner but with these races you have to look at the bigger picture and be prepared for the first Saturday in May. Don't try doing all your studying a month or week before the Derby. Good luck and let's get some winners!

Source: Equibase


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