Tips and Analysis for the Holy Bull, Withers and Robert B. Lewis Horse Races
Three prep races taking place at tracks across the country highlight a major weekend for 3-year-old thoroughbreds vying for a spot in the starting gate at this year’s Kentucky Derby in May.
These races, part of the Road to the Kentucky Derby series, are the Holy Bull Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida; the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, New York; and the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, California.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby
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 winner in each of this weekend’s stakes races is awarded 10 points, the runner-up gets four, the third horse earns two points and the fourth-place finisher gets a single point.
The field is limited to 20 horses, and we will be covering the series race by race. We will update the 2022 Kentucky Derby qualifier leaderboard on an ongoing basis, so you should bookmark this page.
Current 2022 Kentucky Derby Qualifier Standings
|3||Rattle N Roll||10||$300,000|
|5||Make It Big||10||$240,000|
|7||Slow Down Andy||10||$180,000|
|11||Call Me Midnight||10||$123,500|
Holy Bull Distance, Purse, Date
Track: Gulfstream Park, Hallandale Beach, Florida
Inaugural Race: 1990
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Status: Grade 2
2022 Race Date: Saturday, Feb. 3
Holy Bull Field with Opening Lines and Odds
Two of the Top 20 horses so far in this year’s Road to the Kentucky Derby are set to run Saturday in the Holy Bull Stakes, a 1 1/16 miles race on a dirt surface.
A pair of stalkers, Mo Donegal and Giant Game, are piling up points in an effort to make the field of 20 at the Derby. Mo Donegal is 10th in the standings with 10 points, while Giant Game is holding down the 17th spot with four points.
The $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes awards 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. The next three finishers earn 4-2-1 points.
The track at GulfStream Park is considered on the most significant sites in the industry. Horse racing began there in 1939 and has been a favorite for competitors and spectators over the years.
The Holy Bull Stakes has vaulted Go for Gin and Barbaro to Derby victories.
The race this weekend in South Florida is named for the 1994 Horse of the Year, nicknamed “The Bull,” and winner of five grade 1 events, including the Florida Derby.
As for the race-day weather, South Florida will be warmer than in parts of the country still digging out from a brutal band of ice and snow that paralyzed states this week from Texas to the Eastern Seaboard.
The temperature on Saturday in Hallandale is projected to be a seasonal 78 degrees, though sogginess could be an issue. Meteorologists are calling for a 43% chance of afternoon showers.
Field for the Holy Bull
|1||Galt||William I. Mott||Junior Alvarado||15-1|
|2||Mo Donegal||Todd Pletcher||Irad Ortiz, Jr.||5-2|
|3||Eloquist||Robert E. Reid, Jr.||Frankie Pennington||20-1|
|4||Simplification||Antonio Sano||Javier Castellano||4-1|
|5||Cajun's Magic||Michael Yates||Jesus M. Rios||8-1|
|6||Tiz the Bomb||Kenneth G. McPeek||Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.||6-1|
|7||Spin Wheel||George R. Arnold, II||Julien R. Leparoux||20-1|
|8||White Abarrio||Saffie A. Joseph, Jr.||Tyler Gaffalione||6-1|
|9||Giant Game||Dale L. Romans||Luis Saez||7-2|
Picks and Analysis for 2022 Holy Bull
Trained by Todd A. Pletcher and ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., Mo Donegal enters the weekend race as the 5-2 favorite. The Kentucky-bred speedster had three starts in 2021, with two wins and one third-place finish. These performances have contributed to lifetime earnings of $197,800.
Another top contender is Giant Game (7-2), also a Kentucky-bred colt. The Dale L. Romans 3-year-old had three starts in 2021, with one win and two third-place finishes. Giant Game has earned $242,400.
These two favorites are expected to be pressed by Simplification (4-1), Tiz the Bomb and White Abarrio (both 6-1) and Cajun’s Magic (8-1).
Withers Stakes Distance, Purse, Date
Track: Aqueduct Racetrack, Jamaica, NY
Inaugural Race: 2001
Distance: 1 1/8 miles
Status: Grade 3
2022 Race Date: Saturday, Feb. 5
Withers Stakes Field with Opening Lines and Odds
This key winter race at the Big A near John F. Kennedy International Airport features a field of high flyers, including Courvoisier, winner of New Year’s Day Jerome Stakes on the same track.
Courvoisier comes into Saturday’s race in 10th place in the Kentucky Derby Qualifier Standings, on the strength of last month’s first-place finish in the Jerome.
The $250,000 Withers Stakes at Aqueduct awards 10 Kentucky Derby points to the winner. The next three finishers earn 4-2-1 points.
The 1 1/8 miles race on a dirt track is named for David Dunham Withers, an owner and breeder who had success with his horse King Eric in the 1800s.
The weather for Saturday’s race in New York is expected to be typical for this time of the year. Frigid temperatures and a wintry mix of precipitation on Friday night will give way on race day to a high of 30 degrees, with sunny skies in the afternoon.
Field for the Withers Stakes
|1||Constitutionlawyer||Raymond Handal||Jose Lezcano||7-2|
|2||Grantham||Michael J. Maker||Victor R. Carrasco||10-1|
|3||Smarten Up||Alfredo Velazquez||Anthony Salgado||10-1|
|4||Gilded Age||William I. Mott||Kendrick Carmouche||10-1|
|5||Courvoisier||Kelly J. Breen||Ruben Silvera||9-2|
|6||Unbridled Bomber||James T. Ryerson||Jorge A. Vargas, Jr.||12-1|
|7||Noneedtoworry||Herold O. Whylie||Silvestre Gonzalez||30-1|
|8||Un Ojo||Anthony W. Dutrow||Trevor McCarthy||20-1|
|9||Early Voting||Chad C. Brown||Jose L. Ortiz||3-1|
|10||Mr Jefferson||Michael J. Trombetta||Eric Cancel||20-1|
|9||Cooke Creek||Jeremiah O'Dwyer||Manuel Franco||6-1|
Picks and Analysis for 2022 Withers Stakes
Coming off a Jerome Stakes win at Aqueduct, the Kelly Breen-trained Courvoisier ( 9-2) is one of the favorites in Saturday’s Withers Stakes.
The Kentucky-bred colt was ridden by Jose Ortiz in the Jerome, but Ortiz is riding 3-1 contender Early Voting in the Withers. Courvoisier’s jockey in Saturday’s race at Aqueduct will be Ruben Silvera.
Early Voting, a Chad C. Brown-trained thoroughbred, had one start in 2021, finishing first. The 3-year-old colt has compiled $44,000 in lifetime earnings.
The 7-2 favorite going into Saturday, Consitutionlawyer, is trained by Raymond Handal. In three starts, Consitutionlawyer has one win and one third-place finish, with earnings of $59,000.
At 6-1, Cooke Creek is expected to make a strong run Saturday in the 11-horse field.
Robert B. Lewis Distance, Purse, Date
Track: Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, California
Inaugural Race: 1935
Distance: 1 1/16 miles
Status: Grade 3
2022 Race Date: Sunday, Feb. 6
Robert B. Lewis Field with Opening Lines and Odds
The Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in Southern California features a small field of only five horses. The $200,000 Derby prep race is being run over 1 1/16 miles on a dirt track.
Of the five thoroughbreds expected to run on Sunday, two are Bob Baffert-trained horses, Messier and Wharton. Baffert has won this race nine times.
Baffert’s horse Medina Spirit won the race last year before later finishing first in the Kentucky Derby, a finish that has been contested based on a betamethasone positive test, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal.
After a workout on Dec. 6, 2021, Medina Spirit collapsed and died at Santa Anita. The preliminary cause of death was a heart attack.
Since the 1930s, this race has been run under different names, but it was renamed in 2007 for racehorse owner Robert B. Lewis, who died one year earlier.
The Santa Anita track just east of Pasadena has been a favorite over the decades among Hollywood stars, athletes and race fans.
For those in attendance on Sunday, the weather is expected to be warm, topping out at 77 degrees under sunny skies.
Field for the Robert B. Lewis
|1||Messier||Bob Baffert||John R. Velazquez||6-5|
|2||Sir London||Simon Callaghan||Flavien Prat||9-5|
|3||Cabo Spirit||George Papaprodromou||Victor Espinoza||8-1|
|4||Wharton||Bob Baffert||Juan J. Hernandez||4-1|
|5||Happy Jack||Doug F. O'Neill||Abel Cedillo||6-1|
Picks and Analysis for 2022 Robert B. Lewis
Messier (6-5), ridden by John R. Velazquez, comes into race day as the favorite, followed by Sir London (9-5) and Wharton (4-1).
The other horses, Happy Jack (6-1) and Cabo Spirit (8-1), are expected to contend for the fourth spot in an effort to pick up at least one Derby point.
Messier is the pick to win. The Kentucky Derby website calls this Baffert-trained thoroughbred “the most accomplished of the Robert B. Lewis entrants.” The 3-year-old colt has had four starts, with two wins and two second-place finishes, compiling lifetime earnings of $165,800.
These three races are key for horses trying to make a run at the 2022 Triple Crown. Winners here will position themselves well in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings.
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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