Tips and Analysis for the Arkansas Derby, Florida Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks

Author Image Article By Chet Fussman GDC - Icon - Black - Info
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Tips and Analysis for the Arkansas Derby, Florida Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks
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The Kentucky Derby field begins to take shape this weekend with three significant prep races around the U.S.

The Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby and Jeff Ruby Steaks all offer the maximum 170 qualifying points (100-40-20-10). The winners are each guaranteed a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on May 7. The 40 points for the runner-up is also likely enough to be Derby-bound.

After this weekend’s trio of races, only three maximum point prep races remain, all next weekend. So in the next week or so, the bulk of the Kentucky Derby field will be set.

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

These race are part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series. Forty-eight races comprise the series, and points are awarded to the top four finishers. More points are available in the most important graded stakes races leading up to the Kentucky Derby on May 7.

This series began on Sept. 18 with the Iroquois for 2-year-old thoroughbreds at Churchill Downs. It will conclude with the Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 16, three weeks before the Run for the Roses.

The field is limited to 20 horses, and we will be covering the series race by race. We will update the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds on an ongoing basis, so you should bookmark this page.

Current 2022 Kentucky Derby Qualifier Standings

Rank HorsePoints Earnings
1 Epicenter 164 $940,000
2 Crown Pride 100 $671,544
3 Classic Causeway 66 $456,100
4 Slow Down Andy 60 $475,000
5 Un Ojo 54 $655,00
6 Simplification 54 $378,150
7 Forbidden Kingdom 50 $392,000
8 Morello 50 $220,000
9 Zozos 40 $200,000
10 Smile Happy 30 $314,410
11 Pioneer of Medina25 $116,000
12 Grantham 21 $85,000
13 Rattle N Roll 20 $344,000
14 Ethereal Road 20 $200,000
15 Island Falcon 20 $100,000
16 In Due Time 20 $76,800
17 Dean’s List 20 $60,000
18 Barber Road 18 $339,700
19 Pappacap 14 $562,000
20 Zandon 14 $90,000

Arkansas Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, April 2

Track: Oaklawn Park, Hot Springs, Arkansas

Inaugural Race: 1936

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 1

Purse: $1.25 million

2021 winner: Super Stock

Arkansas Derby Preview

The Arkansas Derby is the richest of all Kentucky Derby preps with a purse of $1.25 million. It also might be the most intriguing with the inclusion of the filly Secret Oath and her trainer, the 86-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

Secret Oath, likely to go off as the betting favorite, is facing males for the first time. Her last three victories against fillies, all at Oaklawn Park, were by a combined 23 lengths. Lukas has won the Kentucky Derby four times, including 1988 with Winning Colors, the last of only three fillies to win the Run for the Roses.

The nine-horse Arkansas Derby field includes five from the Rebel Stakes, including winner Un Ojo, which upset the field at 75-1.

Among the horses shipping in for the race is California-based Doppelgänger, previously from the barn of trainer Bob Baffert.

With Baffert horses ineligible to accumulate Kentucky Derby points because of his suspension, Doppelgänger is among a handful of horses recently transferred to a new barn to gain points. Doppelgänger is now in the hands of Tim Yakteen, a former assistant to Baffert until 2004.

The last Arkansas Derby winner to win the Kentucky Derby was American Pharoah in 2015, who went on to win the Triple Crown.

Arkansas Derby Field and Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Kavod Chris Hartman Mitchell Murrill15-1
2 Chasing Time Steve Asmussen Jose Lezcano12-1
3 Barber Road John Alexander OrtizGutierrez Reyluis8-1
4 Doppelgänger Tim Yakteen John R. Velazquez3-1
5 Un Ojo Richy Courville Ramon Vazquez6-1
6 Secret Oath D. Wayne LukasLuis Contreras5-2
7 Ben Diesel Dallas StewartJon Kenton Court15-1
8 Cyberknife Brad Cox Florent Geroux8-1
9 We the People Rudolphe Brisset Flavien Prat7-2

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Arkansas Derby

Lightly-raced Doppelgänger is a bit short on credentials with a win and a second in three career starts, but has been facing solid fields in Southern California. Until this week, Doppelgänger was in the barn of Bob Baffert, who won this race six times in the past 10 years. A fast pace will help this stretch-runner’s chances.

Secret Oath will be the feel-good story of Kentucky Derby week if she finishes first or second here to earn enough points for legendary trainer D. Wayne Lukas. She’s fast enough to do so, though this is a step up in class after three consecutive routs over fillies. Will have plenty of fan support on Saturday, but won’t offer much betting value.

Barber Road was third in the Rebel Stakes last month at Oaklawn, beaten only a half-length. His last four finishes were close seconds and thirds, so he’s not a win machine. But he’s still a solid contender at a reasonable price.

Kavod is the early speed in the race. He faded late in the Rebel to finish fourth. He could hold on for a piece. … Un Ojo pulled off a stunning 75-1 upset in the Rebel, but will be a much lower price this time.

Florida Derby Preview

The signature race of the Gulfstream Park championship meet has drawn a field of 11 with no obvious standout. The $1 million race is traditionally one of the nation’s key preps — 15 Florida Derby winners have gone on to win the Kentucky Derby, most recently Always Dreaming in 2017 (not including 2019 Florida Derby winner Maximum Security who crossed the finish line first in the Kentucky Derby, but was disqualified for interference).

Stakes winners Simplification, White Abarrio and Classic Causeway are all between 5-2 and 7-2 on the morning line. The other horse likely to garner plenty of betting support is Charge It, whose maiden win last time out was visually impressive, and is trained by six-time Florida Derby winner Todd Pletcher.

Classic Causeway, winner of the Tampa Bay Derby and Sam F. Davis Stakes, already has enough Kentucky Derby points (66) to qualify. So does Fountain of Youth Stakes winner Simplification (54). The rest need more points to reach the Churchill Downs starting gate.

Florida Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, April 2

Track: Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida

Inaugural Race: 1952

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 1

Purse: $1 million

2021 winner: Known Agenda

Florida Derby Field and Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Strike Hard Matthew J. Williams Junior Alvarado20-1
2 Classic Causway Brian Lynch Irad Ortiz, Jr.7-2
3 Simplification Antonio SanoJose L. Ortiz5-2
4 King of Truth Sanchez Amador Merei Jose E. Morelos50-1
5 Pappacap Mark E. Casse Edwin Gonzalez10-1
6 Charge It Todd Pletcher Luis Saez7-2
7 White Abarrio Saffie A. Joseph, Jr. Tyler Gaffalione3-1
8 Cajun’s Magic Michael Yates Jesus M. Rios30-1
9 O Captain Gustavo Delgado Joel Rosario20-1
10 Clapton Juan Alvarado Emisael Jaramillo20-1
11 Steal Sunshine Robert S. Dibona Leonel Reyes30-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Florida Derby

Simplification has already punched his Kentucky Derby ticket and has shown a consistent pattern of improvement. The Fountain of Youth winner obviously likes this track — all six previous starts, three wins, at Gulfstream Park — and his adaptable running style gives him a tactical advantage. Big race here makes him a serious Kentucky Derby contender.

Pappacap was a stakes winner as 2-year-old last year, but a major disappointment so far as 3 year-old. Has the talent to compete here, but needs a little form reversal. Deserves another chance and you’ll get paid if he delivers.

Charge It looked like a good thing when drawing off to an 8-length win when last seen here in a maiden race on Feb. 12. Big step up in class and distance here, but his speed figures are solid and trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race six times.

Tampa Bay Derby winner Classic Causeway will garner significant betting support after two consecutive front-running stakes victories. But his times weren’t particularly fast and had ideal trips in both.

Jeff Ruby Steaks Preview

The Jeff Ruby Steaks has had a lot of names over the years: Spiral Stakes (three different periods), Jim Beam,, and Lane’s End until steakhouse owner Jeff Ruby took over sponsorship in 2018.

The Jeff Ruby is the only one of the major Kentucky Derby preps run on a synthetic racing surface. That usually puts the winner at a disadvantage over the Churchill Downs traditional dirt surface.

A field of 12 will contest the 2022 Ruby, led by morning-line favorite Tiz the Bomb and Stolen Base, the 1-2 finishers in the John Battaglia Memorial, the Turfway Park prep for this race.

Tiz the Bomb held off Stolen Base by a neck in the Battaglia and has four victories in seven career starts, three of those wins on synthetic or grass.

Trainer Ken McPeek has talked about pointing Tiz the Bomb to the Epsom Derby in the UK, which is contested on grass, but could get a case of Derby fever if the horse garners enough points to make the Kentucky Derby field.

The last winner of this Turfway Park race to win the Kentucky Derby was Animal Kingdom, who won the 2011 Run for the Roses at 20-1 odds.

Jeff Ruby Steaks Race Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, April 2

Track: Turfway Park, Florence, Kentucky

Inaugural Race: 1972

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Surface: Synthetic

Status: Grade 3

Purse: $600,000

2021 winner: Like the King

Jeff Ruby Steaks Race Field and Odds

Pos HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Royal Spirit Todd Pletcher Chris Landeros10-1
2 Stolen Base Michael J. Maker Gerardo Corrales7-2
3 Cabo Spirit George Papaprodromou Joe Bravo12-1
4 Rich Strike Eric R. Reed Sonny Leon20-1
5 Tawny Port Brad Cox Manuel Franco6-1
6 Great Escape Rodolphe Brisset Adam Beschizza15-1
7 Tiz the Bomb Kenneth McPeek Brian J. Hernandez, Jr.2-1
8 Red Run Steve Asmussen Joseph Talamo6-1
9 Dowagiac Chief Thomas Amoss James Graham8-1
10 Optigogo Eoin G. Harty Rafael Bejarano30-1
11 Constitutionlawyer Raymond Handal Jalon L. Samuel50-1
12 Blackladder Rodolphe Brisset Edwin A. Maldonado15-1
13 Swing Shift Todd Pletcher Gerardo Corrales15-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Jeff Ruby Steaks Race

The Jeff Ruby isn’t likely to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, but it’s an excellent betting race with a handful of solid win contenders.

Tawny Point was 2-for-2 at Turfway Park before a dull effort on the dirt in the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Returns to his preferred surface, hails from high-percentage barn and is worth a wager at decent odds.

Morning-line favorite Tiz the Bomb has four victories, most in the field, with three of those in stakes races. Made a wide, sweeping move to win the prep for this race and is the deserving favorite. But in a competitive race with a full field, it’s hard to accept a short price.

Blackadder was rolling late to win the El Camino Real Derby at Golden Gate Fields in Northern California, a race on a similar synthetic track that makes him dangerous here. Recently transferred out of the Bob Baffert barn to earn Kentucky Derby points, will need to work out a trip from the outside post.

Final Recap

These races are key for what has been an exciting 2022 sprint to the Triple Crown.

Since you are interested in the sport of kings, you should check out our horse race betting page. It contains a lot of great information, and we will be tightly focused on the Road Kentucky Derby every step of the way, so you should come back to visit us.

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Chet Fussman

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