Tips and Analysis for the Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby and Sunland Derby

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Tips and Analysis for the Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby and Sunland Derby
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The most impactful 2022 Kentucky Derby prep races are entering the starting gate.

The $1 million Louisiana Derby on Saturday is the first U.S-based prep race of 2022 to offer the maximum 170 qualifying points (100-40-20-10). The winner is assured of a spot in the Churchill Downs starting gate on May 7 and the runner-up likely earns one, too.

The other Derby preps this weekend are the $1 million UAE Derby in Dubai, which also offers the maximum number of points and the $500,000 Sunland Derby in New Mexico, which awards 50 points to the winner.

The six remaining maximum-points prep races will follow in the next two weeks.

Here’s a preview and analysis of this weekend’s three Kentucky Derby preps.

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 Classic Causeway 66 $456,100
2 Epicenter 64 $340,000
3 Un Ojo 54 $655,00
4 Simplification 54 $378,150
5 Forbidden Kingdom 50 $392,000
6 Morello 50 $220,000
7 Smile Happy 30 $314,410
8 Grantham 21 $85,000
9 Ethereal Road 20 $200,000
10 In Due Time 20 $76,800
11 Dean’s List 20 $60,000
12 Barber Road 18 $339,700
13 Pappacap 14 $562,000
14 Zandon 14 $90,000
15 Shipsational 14 $40,000
16 White Abarrio 12 $186,850
17 Mo Donegal 12 $161,500
18 Tiz the Bomb 10 $661,210
19 Rattle N Roll10 $300,000
20 Slow Down Andy 10 $184,000

Louisiana Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 26

Track: Fair Grounds, New Orleans

Inaugural Race: 1894

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 2

Purse: $1 million

2021 winner: Hot Rod Chalie

Louisiana Derby Early Odds and Analysis

Epicenter already has enough points (64) to run in the Kentucky Derby and will be a heavy favorite to win the 109th Louisiana Derby on Saturday at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

The Louisiana Derby is run at 1-3/16 miles, the longest of the U.S.-based Kentucky Derby preps, and just 1/16th of a mile shorter than the Kentucky Derby. The 2021 Louisiana Derby produced the top two Kentucky Derby finishers: Mandaloun (sixth in Louisiana Derby) won the Run for the Roses via disqualification; Louisiana Derby winner Hot Rod Charlie placed second in the Kentucky Derby.

Epicenter is the 7-5 morning-line favorite and will likely be bet down even lower. Trained by Steve Asmussen, the colt easily won the Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds last month and appears the controlling speed in a nine-horse field without a lot of early pace. Epicenter has three wins and a close second in his last four starts and top jockey Joel Rosario is back aboard.

Four others in the field have earned Kentucky Derby points, but need to add to those totals. Stretch-running Call Me Midnight (10 points) edged Epicenter in the Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds two months ago at 28-1 odds.

Rattle N Roll (10 points) won the Breeders Futurity at Keeneland last October. Pioneer of Medina (5 points) finished fourth behind Epicenter in the Risen Star. Galt (1 point) was fourth in the Holy Bull Stakes.

Only two horses (Black Gold and Grindstone) have won the Louisiana Derby and Kentucky Derby, none since 1996.

Louisiana Derby Field and Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Silent Power Scott Gelner Gerard Melancon50-1
2 Zozos Brad Cox Florent Geroux8-1
3 Call Me Midnight J. Keith DesormeauxJames Graham6-1
4 Curly Tail Dallas Stewart Colby J. Hernandez30-1
5 Kupuna W. Bret Calhoun Reylu Gutierrez8-1
6 Epicenter Steve AsmussenAntonio Joel Rosario7-5
7 Pioneer of Medina Todd PletcherTyler Gaffalione5-1
8 Galt William Mott Junior Alvarado8-1
9 Rattle N Roll Kenneth McPeek Brian Joseph Hernandez, Jr.6-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Louisiana Derby

Handicappers can often overthink races, but not going to do that here. Epicenter handily beat a better field than this in the Risen Star, making him difficult to go against despite a short price. He’s likely to be setting the pace again in a race without a lot of early speed. He’s a head away from being 3-for-3 in races around two turns.

Galt is a little bit of a wild card. He was a decent fourth in the Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, then was making a move and lost the rider to avoid a fallen jockey in the Fountain of Youth three weeks ago. Galt has a versatile running style and will be a square price.

Pioneer of Medina was fourth behind Epicenter in the Risen Star, the first time he failed to hit the board in five career starts. Tries hard and an obvious candidate to include in exotic wagers.

Call Me Midnight rallied late at long odds to nip Epicenter two months ago on a track that favored his late-closing style. Idle since then. … Rattle N Roll showed considerable promise as 2-year-old, but was a non-factor in 2022 debut.

UAE Derby Early Odds and Analysis

The lone foreign race that awards points to the Kentucky Derby, the UAE Derby has grown in stature and now awards as many points as the top U.S.-based prep races.

A full field of 16 representing countries across the globe are entered, but four horses are not eligible for the Kentucky Derby.

Three of the four are South American-bred horses, who are considered 4-year-olds by Northern Hemisphere standards (the Kentucky Derby is restricted to 3-year-olds). The fourth is Pinehurst, trained by Bob Baffert, whose horses are not eligible to run at Churchill Downs, which has suspended the six-time Kentucky Derby winner for medication violations.

Pinehurst was a front-running winner of the Saudi Derby last month. Other American UAE Derby hopefuls include Gilded Age, who finished third in the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct last month and California-based Get Back Goldie , who won a non-stakes race in Dubai.

No UAE Derby winner has won the Kentucky Derby. The UAE Derby is part of one of the world’s richest racing cards that includes the $12 million Dubai World Cup.

UAE Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 26

Track: Meydan Racecourse, Dubai

Inaugural Race: 2000

Distance: 1 3/16 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 2

Purse: $1 million

2021 winner: Rebel’s Romance

UAE Derby Field and Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Irwin Antonio Cintra Francisco Goncalves16-1
2 Kiefer Ricardo Colombo Ricardo Colombo25-1
3 Quality Boone Antonio CintraVagner Leal14-1
4 Azure Coast Pavel Vashchenko Antonio Fresu6-1
5 Bendoog Bhupat Seemar Tadhg O'Shea16-1
6 Combustion Keizo Ito William Buick4-1
7 Crown Pride Koichi Shintani Damian Lane16-1
8 Get Back Goldie Doug O'Neill Irad Ortiz Jr.40-1
9 Gilded Age William Mott Luis Saez10-1
10 Island Falcon Saeed bin SuroorHector Patrick Cosgrave33-1
11 Pinehurst Bob Baffert Flavien Prat3-1
12 Reiwa Homare Daisuke Takayanagi Christophe Lemaire16-1
13 Sekifu Koshiro Take Koshiro Take5-1
14 Summer Is Tomorrow Bhupat Seemar Mickael Barzalona50-1
15 Withering Fawzi Nass Adrie de Vries20-1
16 Arabian Gazelles Bhupat Seemar Richard Mulle33-1

Picks and Analysis for 2022 UAE Derby

Japanese-bred Combustion won the Hyacinth Stakes at Tokyo Racecourse last time out and has finished first or second in all five lifetime starts. Might be good enough to handle step up in class. Top international jockey William Buick, who won this race last year, adds to the appeal.

Sekifu, also from Japan, was the only horse closing significant ground in the Saudi Derby, finishing a half-length back of Pinehurst. Added distance may help turn the tables this time.

With trainer Bob Baffert banned from entering horses at Churchill Downs, Pinehurst is racking up purse money overseas, but not points. Saudi Derby winner is likely to be leading field into deep stretch. Added distance is the big question.

Azure Coast rallied from the clouds to win last time out and is a perfect 3-for-3 lifetime. Russian-owned and trained, a victory could produce an interesting international reaction.

Sunland Derby Early Odds and Analysis

The Sunland Derby returns for the first time since 2019, with the previous two runnings canceled becaue of the Covid-19 pandemic.

No winner of the New Mexico race has won the Kentucky Derby, though Mind That Bird finished fourth in the 2009 Sunland Derby, then pulled off a shocker at Churchill Downs, winning at 50-1. The Sunland Derby offers 50 Derby qualifying points to the winner.

A field of eight is entered for Sunday’s race, including Straight Up G (owned by Jim Rome’s Jungle Racing) and Bye Bye Bobby, the top two finishers of the local prep in February, and morning-line favorite Slow Down Andy, who won the Los Alamitos Futurity last December.

Sunland Derby Distance, Purse, Date

2022 Race Date: Saturday, March 26

Track: Sunland Park, Sunland Park, New Mexico

Inaugural Race: 2003

Distance: 1 1/8 miles

Surface: Dirt

Status: Grade 3

Purse: $500,000

2021 winner: No race (COVID-19)

Sunland Derby Field and Odds

Position HorseTrainer RiderOdds
1 Costa Terra Steve Asmussen Luis Negron8-1
2 Classic Moment Steven Asmussen Joel Rosario7-2
3 Fowler Blue Luis Mendez Edwin A. Maldonado20-1
4 Slow Down Andy Doug F. O'Neill Mario Gutierrez2-1
5 Bye Bye Bobby Todd Fincher Roimes Chirinos9-2
6 Pepper Spray Edward J. Kereluk Luis A. Valenzuela15-1
7 Chrome King Miguel L. Hernandez Enrique Garcia15-1
8 Straight Up G Richard Baltas Ricardo Gonzalez5-2

Picks and Analysis for 2022 Sunland Derby

It’s hard to trust the top two betting choices, so it’s worth taking a shot with Bye Bye Bobby at a decent price. Bye Bye Bobby has one win in four lifetime starts and finished three-quarters of a length behind Mine That Bird Derby winner Straight Up G last time out. But Bye Bye Bobby was making up late ground and is showing steady improvement.

Slow Down Andy was a disappointing sixth in the Risen Star Stakes in Louisiana last time out. That was a much tougher field than this, and the fact that he’s seeking a softer spot here may be telling. Adds blinkers for the first time. Clearly good enough to win this, but hard to accept a short price.

Straight Up G won the local prep for this in wire-to-wire fashion, but was tiring noticeably late and now must stretch out another half-furlong. He will be on the lead again and would benefit from an uncontested pace.

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.