Tips and Analysis for the Gotham, San Felipe and John Battaglia

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Tips and Analysis for the Gotham, San Felipe and John Battaglia
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True contenders will be identified and pretenders exposed this weekend in a busy schedule of Kentucky Derby prep races.

Four races that offer qualifying Kentucky Derby points will be run on Saturday in different regions across the U.S.

Three of the four — the Fountain of Youth, Gotham and San Felipe — offer 85 Kentucky Derby points (50-20-10-5). The John Battaglia Memorial offers 17 points (10-4-2-1).

Here’s a brief preview and analysis for the Gotham, San Felipe and Battaglia Memorial. A separate analysis with selections for the Fountain of Youth is available on

The Road to the Kentucky Derby

This race is 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 64 $340,000
2 Un Ojo 54 $655,00
3 Smile Happy 30 $314,410
4 Ethereal Road 20 $200,000
5 Barber Road 18 $339,700
6 Classic Causeway 16 $246,100
7 Pappacap 14 $562,000
8 Zandon 14 $90,000
9 White Abarrio 12 $186,850
10 Mo Donegal 12 $161,500
11 Rattle N Roll10 $300,000
12 Make It Big 10 $240,000
13 Slow Down Andy 10 $184,000
14 Major General 10 $177,525
15 Dash Attack 10 $175,834
16 Early Voting 10 $137,500
17 Call Me Midnight 10 $123,500
18 Courvoisier 10 $83,750
19 Kavod 7 $248,500
20 Commandperformance 6 $200,000

Gotham Stakes

An evenly-matched field of 10 3-year-olds is entered in the Gotham, a one-turn race at Aqueduct. Morello, unbeaten in two career races at the New York track, is the narrow 3-1 morning-line favorite.

Co-second choice Rockefeller is trained by Bob Baffert, whose horses are ineligible to accumulate Derby qualifying points because of a positive drug test from last year’s disqualified Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit.

Whatever Derby points Rockefeller earns in the Gotham will be vacated. Get used to reading that as Baffert has several strong Kentucky Derby candidates campaigning at different tracks. He is appealing a recent suspension by Churchill Downs.

The one-mile Gotham is the shortest of Saturday’s prep races, making it more a test of speed than stamina. Long shot Weyburn won the race last year at 46-1. Triple Crown winner Secretariat is the only horse to win both the Gotham and Kentucky Derby, nearly 50 years ago.

Gotham Stakes Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 5

Track: Aqueduct, New York

Inaugural Race: 1953

Distance: 1 mile

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 3

Purse: $300,000

2021 winner: Weyburn

Gotham Stakes Field with Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Runninsonofagun John T. Toscano, Jr Jalon L. Samuel30-1
2 Glider Mark E. Casse Antonio A. Gallardo8-1
3 Golden Code Todd A. PletcherKendrick Carmouche12-1
4 Fromanothamutha Raymond Handal Dylan Davis6-1
5 Dean's List Todd A. PletcherManuel Franco7-2
6 Life is Great Robert P. KlesarisEric Cancel15-1
7 Noneedtoworry Herold WhylieSilvestre Gonzalez30-1
8 Bold Journey William I. MottJorge A. Vargas, Jr.6-1
9 Morello Steven AsmussenJose Lezcano3-1
10 Rockefeller Bob BaffertTrevor McCarthy4-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Gotham Stakes

In a tricky race to handicap, unbeaten Dean’s List will be difficult to run down if able to seize an uncontested lead. He has shown speed and tenacity in his two wins for top trainer Todd Pletcher, and while he does not have the look of a classic distance horse, a one-turn mile could be in his wheelhouse.

Morello, also 2-for-2, is the deserving morning-line favorite. He won two sprints by a combined nine lengths and his tactical stalking style might serve him well here. Just not sure who he was beating in those two wins.

Bold Journey had a four-length lead in the stretch of the NY-bred Gander Stakes last time out, but tired badly in the final furlong and faded to second. Gotham is the same distance, so stamina is the obvious question.

San Felipe Stakes

Of Saturday’s Derby prep races, the San Felipe is the most relevant. Since 1947, the 1-1/16 mile race at Santa Anita has produced 13 Kentucky Derby winners, not including Medina Spirit, who was DQ’d from last year’s win because of a positive drug test.

Trainer Bob Baffert has won this race eight times and has a pair of contenders in Armagnac and late-running Doppelganger. But the morning-line favorite in the seven-horse San Felipe is the Richard Mandella-trained Forbidden Kingdom, who sped to a wire-to-wire victory in the shorter San Vincente Stakes last time out, and stretches out to two turns for the first time.

Life is Good, one of the top older horses currently in training, dominated last year’s San Felipe by eight lengths, but missed the 2021 Kentucky Derby with an injury.

San Felipe Stakes Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 5

Track: Santa Anita, Arcadia, California

Inaugural Race: 1935

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 2

Purse: $400,000

2021 winner: Life Is Good

San Felipe Stakes Field with Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Happy JackDoug F. O'Neill Abel Cedillo8-1
2 Worse Read Sanchez Doug F. O'Neill Mario Gutierrez20-1
3 Armagnac Bob BaffertJohn R. Velazquez5-1
4 Beautiful Art Simon Callaghan Mike E. Smith12-1
5 Doppelganger Bob BaffertFlavien Prat9-5
6 Forbidden Kingdom Richard E. MandellaJuan J. Hernandez8-5
7 Cabo Spirit George PapaprodromouVictor Espinoza5-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 San Felipe Stakes

Doppelganger, a disappointing fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the San Vicente last time out, can make amends at a better price. This is his first try around two turns, but he looks like a horse that wants to stretch out. Strong works and top jockey Prat stays aboard.

Forbidden Kingdom is fast out of the gate and was never threatened in the San Vicente. The same could happen here, though Forbidden Kingdom will be a far lower price at a distance he has not attempted before. Speedy colt lost ground late in his two previous races.

Worse Read Sanchez appears a notch or two below the top pair, but could rally late for a minor slice. Distance is not an issue, but his best races are on grass and will need big improvement from his lone dirt effort last November.

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes

The John Battaglia Memorial at Turfway Park offers only 17 Kentucky Derby qualifying points, meaning the winner will also have to earn points elsewhere to reach the starting gate at Churchill Downs.

A full field of 12 will contest the 1-1/16 mile race, which is run on the synthetic Tapeta surface. The Tapeta is different from the traditional dirt surface of Churchill Downs, and tends to favor horses who prefer to run on the grass.

While the Battaglia is not likely to produce a Derby horse, it is an excellent betting race. Trainer Ken McPeek has morning-line favorite Tiz the Bomb, who won a pair of turf stakes and finished second in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf last year.

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 5

Track: Turfway Park, Florence, Kentucky

Inaugural Race: 1982

Distance: 1 1/16 miles

Surface: Synthetic

Status: Not graded

Purse: $125,000

2021 winner: Hush of a Storm

John Battaglia Memorial Stakes Field with Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 GoldeneyeWilliam E. Morey Albin Jimenez20-1
2 Rich Strike Eric R. Reed Sonny Leon20-1
3 La Belleza Negra Rey HernandezEdgar Morales15-1
4 Stolen Base Michael J. Maker Gerardo Corrales7-2
5 On Thin Ice Mark E. CasseChris Landeros15-1
6 Legendary Lore William E. MoreyRafael Bejarano15-1
7 Droppin G's Jerry AntonuikMalcolm Franklin30-1
8 Erase Brad H. CoxRy Eikleberry5-1
9 O P Firecracker Robert MedinaEmmanuel Esquivel12-1
10 Tiz the Bomb Kenneth G. McPeekAchard Alexis5-2
11 Bloodline Brad CoxMarcelino Pedroza7-2
12 Grael Brendan P. WalshAdam Beschizza20-1
13 Amicable Charlie LiversCanuto Thiago30-1
14 Winter Son James K. ChapmanGabriel Lagunes30-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 John Battaglia Memorial Stakes

In a potentially wide-open race, Bloodline may be the horse to beat. After mixed results on dirt, Bloodline rallied wide to finish second in the Texas Turf Mile last out. Expensive colt, sent out by high-percentage trainer Brad Cox, can expect another wide trip from post 11, but looks formidable if he transfers his turf form to synthetic.

Legendary Lore is 1-for-6 lifetime, but has endured some troubled trips and is fast enough to compete here at potentially generous odds.

Speaking of generous odds, Goldeneye broke his maiden at Turfway Park at 39-1 last time out. Switches to a higher-percentage trainer and jockey and is likely to be dismissed at the betting windows again.

Tiz the Bomb is the class of the race and will go off the betting favorite, but offers limited value in a race that could provide a surprising result.

Final Recap

These races are another pivotal group in what already is 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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