The road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby will continue to take shape on Saturday with preparations in New York and Florida.
Aqueduct hosts the Grade 3, $250,000, 1 1/8 mile Withers Stakes, while Gulfstream Park’s flagship event is the $250,000, 1 1/16 mile Holy Bull Stakes (G3). Both races award Derby points on a 10-4-2-1 basis.
Visit horse racing nationit is free past performance page for more information on Holy Bull and Withers. Here is an overview of the two races:
4:25 p.m. – $250,000 Withers Stakes (G3), 1 1/8 miles, Aqueduct, FS2 and TVG
Trainer Chad Brown, who won the 2021 Withers with Risk Taking, saddles morning line favourite, Early voting (3-1), for the 2022 edition of the race.
The Gun Runner Early Voting colt kicks off his second career with a win Dec. 18 on his one-mile debut at Aqueduct. He adds another distance furlong here under jockey Jose Ortiz.
Constitutionlawyer (7-2) broke his maiden Jan. 2 asking Aqueduct coach Raymond Handal. Courvoisier (9-2), trained by Kelly Breen, already has 10 points in the Derby thanks to his victory on New Year’s Day in the local Jerome Stakes. Cooke Creek (6-1) finished third in the Jerome for coach Jeremiah O’Dwyer.
Aqueduct’s Withers follows the Remsen Stakes (G2) and Jerome as the third of his five paying Kentucky Derby preparations. The New York track will host the $300,000 Gotham Stakes (G3, 50-20-10-5) on March 5 and the $750,000 Wood Memorial (G2, 100-40-20-10) on April 9.
The Withers moved in April 2012 to its current location as a Kentucky Derby winter prep. 2013 race winner Revolutionary finished third in the Derby, while Sir Winston, fourth in the 2019 Withers, upset the Belmont Stakes.
Here’s a look at the field for the 2022 Withers Stakes (trainer and jockey in brackets) with morning odds:
1. Constitutional Lawyer (Raymond Handal, Jose Lezcano), 7-2
2. Grantham (Mike Maker, Victor Carrasco), 10-1
3. Smarten Up (Alfredo Velazquez, Anthony Salgado), 10-1
4. Golden Age (Bill Mott, Kendrick Carmouche), 10-1
5. Courvoisier (Kelly Breen, Ruben Silvera), 9-2
6. Unbridled Bomber (James Ryerson, Jorge Vargas Jr.), 12-1
7. No need to worry (Herold Whylie, Silvestre Gonzalez), 30-1
8. One Ojo (Anthony Dutrow, Trevor McCarthy), 20-1
9. Early Voting (Chad Brown, Jose Ortiz), 3-1
10. Mr. Jefferson (Michael Trombetta, Eric Cancel), 20-1
11. Cooke Creek (Jeremiah O’Dwyer, Manny Franco), 6-1
TimeformUS Rhythm Projections show the favorite early vote taking an early lead and setting a fast pace under Ortiz, followed by Courvoisier.
5:10 p.m. – $250,000 Holy Bull Stakes (G3), 1 1/16 miles, Gulfstream Park, TVG
Mo Donegal (5-2), winner of the Remsen Stakes from Aqueduct (G2) on December 4, makes the first start of his 3-year campaign further down the Atlantic coast at Gulfstream.
Todd Pletcher trains colt Uncle Mo, who has been working steadily at this location since Christmas Eve at Palm Beach Downs. Jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. – whose Remsen race was one of the few incidents resulting in a 30-day suspension by New York stewards for reckless driving – keeps the mount on Mo Donegal.
Dale Romans coaches Giant Game (7-2), making his first start since finishing third Nov. 5 in Del Mar with a 22-1 shot in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile. Simplification (4-1) starts a home win on New Year’s Day in the Mucho Macho Man Stakes for coach Antonio Sano. Kenny McPeek coaches Tiz the Bomb (6-1), a 2nd year winner who switches surfaces after finishing second on Nov. 5 in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf.
Gulfstream’s paid Kentucky Derby prep series kicks off with the Holy Bull. Next up is the $400,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2, 50-20-10-5) on March 5, followed by the $1 million Florida Derby (G1, 100-40-20-10) on March 2. April.
The Holy Bull Stakes were a productive build-up to the midwinter Kentucky Derby, with three of its winners marking the first Saturday in May: Go for Gin (1994), Funny Cide (2003), and Barbaro (2006). Tiz the Law used a win in the 2020 Holy Bull as a stepping stone to victories that season in the Florida Derby, Belmont Stakes and Travers Stakes (G1).
Here’s a look at the field for the 2022 Holy Bull Stakes (trainer and jockey in brackets) with morning odds:
1. Galt (Bill Mott, Junior Alvarado), 15-1
2. Mo Donegal (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr.), 5-2
3. Eloquist (Robert Reid Jr., Frankie Pennington), 20-1
4. Simplification (Antonio Sano, Javier Castellano), 4-1
5. Cajun Magic (Michael Yates, Jesus Rios), 8-1
6. Tiz the Bomb (Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr.), 6-1
7. Spinning Wheel (Rusty Arnold, Julien Leparoux), 20-1
8. White Abarrio (Saffie Joseph Jr., Tyler Gaffalione), 6-1
9. Giant Game (Dale Romans, Luis Saez), 7-2
TimeformUS Rhythm Projections show Simplification comes out on top under jockey Javier Castellano, followed by White Abarrio. Favorite Mo Donegal is expected to settle close to the back in the early stages.
On the way to the Kentucky Derby top 10
1. Papacap, 14
2. Epicenter, 14
3. Rattle N Roll, 10
4. Jack Christopher, 10 years old
5. Make it big, 10
6. Happy smile, 10
7. Slow down Andy, 10
8. Major General, 10
9. Lightning Attack, 10
10. Mo Donegal, 10
Related: Report: Corniche expecting 1st job in 22, Derby uncertain
Other Saturday Issues
Here’s a look at other graduated stakes taking place across the United States on Saturday. All posting times are EST and all races will be shown on TVG.
1:50 p.m. – $150,000 Toboggan Stakes (G3), ages 4 and up, seven stages, aqueduct
Happy Medium (1-5) hovers on the pitch for the Toboggan, which was due to take place on January 29 but was postponed for a week due to wintry weather. Michelle Nevin is training and Manny Franco will ride the 4-year-old gelding Runhappy, which has three straight wins, including a local allocation score on Dec. 18. Michael Catalano Jr. coaches Hopeful Treasure (4-1), the last winner of Aqueduct’s Fall Highweight Handicap (G3) on Nov. 28. Drafted (8-1), a two-time Group 3 hero in Dubai, finished third on Dec. 19 in the local Gravesend Stakes for coach David Duggan.
1:57 p.m. – 0,000 Swale Stakes (G3), Age 3, Seven Stakes, Gulfstream Park
My Prankster (2-1) returns to high-stakes stealing after a Gulfstream allowance win Dec. 10 for coach Todd Pletcher. Jockey Luis Saez gets the call for colt Into Mischief, who finished fourth against Grade 1 foes last October at Belmont Park in the Champagne Stakes. Brad Cox trains in Dreams (5-2), a former maiden claimant who is rising in class after winning an allowance race from Oaklawn Park on Dec. 17. Of a Revolution (4-1) finished second in the local Limehouse Stakes on New Year’s Day to trainer Saffie Joseph Jr.
2:42 p.m. – $175,000 Endeavor Stakes (G3), fillies and mares 4+, 1 1/16 miles (turf), Tampa Bay Downs
Lady Speightspeare (3-1) is 4 for 5 in her career for coach Roger Attfield, including a Grade 1 score in Woodbine’s 2020 Natalma Stakes. Jockey Emma-Jayne Wilson will ride the 4-year-old filly from Speightstown, who finished third in the Tropical Park Oaks at Gulfstream Park on December 26. Graham Motion coaches Oyster Box (4-1), Halloween runner-up at Woodbine in the Ontario Damsel Stakes. In Italian (9-2) won an allowance event on the Tampa turf Jan. 12 for coach Chad Brown.
3:01 p.m. – $100,000 Kitten’s Joy Stakes (G3), 3-year-old, 1 1/16 miles (turf), Gulfstream Park
Grand Sonata (3-1) is looking to pull away from a New Year’s Eve victory in Gulfstream’s Dania Beach Stakes for Pletcher. Tyler Gaffalione will ride the colt Medaglia d’Oro. Brian Lynch coaches Red Danger (7-2), making his first start of 2022 after winning the local Pulpit Stakes on December 3. Speaking Scout (4-1) finished second in this Pulpit Stakes for Motion.
3:30 p.m. – $100,000 Thunder Road Stakes (G3), ages 4 and up, one mile (grass), Santa Anita
Subconscious (8-5) leads the first race of the Santa Anita card Saturday for coach Richard Mandella. Jockey Juan Hernandez will ride the 4-year-old Tapit gelding, winner of Santa Anita’s Twilight Derby (G2) on Halloween. Phil D’Amato coaches Count Again (5-2), making his first start since a fifth-place finish Aug. 21 in the Del Mar Mile Stakes (G2). Ready Soul (5-2) finished third on Dec. 26 in the local San Gabriel Stakes (G3), also for D’Amato.
3:33 p.m. – $100,000 Forward Gal Stakes (G3), 3-year-old fillies, seven furlongs, Gulfstream Park
Radio Days (8-5) is favored for coach Shug McGaughey in this sprint that earns the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Oaks points on a 10-4-2-1 basis. Dylan Davis will ride the filly Gun Runner, whose 2-for-2 record includes an allowance win on Dec. 2 at Aqueduct. Cox coaches Girl With a Dream (5-2), who arrives from the coaching chain at Fair Grounds, where she won the Letellier Memorial Stakes on Dec. 27. Diamond Wow (9-2) makes his first start since late Oct. 27. 13 as a runner-up to Keeneland in the Jessamine Stakes (G2).
3:46 p.m. – $175,000 Tampa Bay Stakes (G3), 4+, 1 1/16 miles (grass), Tampa Bay Downs
2020 Tampa Bay Stakes runner-up Devamani (3-1) starts for the first time at age 8 in the 2022 race. Brown will give jockey Pablo Morales a head start over Monmouth Stakes (G3) winner Dubawi gelding on June 5 when it was last released. Mark Casse coaches 2021 Tampa Bay Stakes hero Get Smokin (4-1). Imperator (9-2) finished fifth last at Gulfstream Park on Dec. 18 to Brown in the Fort Lauderdale Stakes (G2).
4:37 p.m. – $100,000 Sweetest Chant Stakes (G3), 3-year-old fillies, 1 1/16 miles (grass), Gulfstream Park
Opalina (3-1) is looking for her first win after finishing day three of the year in the Gulfstream Ginger Brew Stakes. Trainer Roderick Rodriguez has appointed Saez to ride the Optimizer filly. Gilberto Zerpa coaches Ocean Safari (4-1), which finished second to Ginger Brew. Battle Charge (5-1) makes its first soft start after winning an allowance race Dec. 8 at Tampa Bay Downs.
6:06 p.m. – $200,000 Santa Monica Stakes (G2), fillies and mares 4+, seven furlongs, Santa Anita
Ce Ce (3-5) returns for her first race since winning the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint Nov. 6 in Del Mar. Michael McCarthy is training the 6-year-old mare Elusive Quality, who will ride for the sixth year. score of his career under jockey Victor Espinoza. Bob Baffert coaches Kalypso (3-1), which faces older runners for the first time after winning the La Brea Stakes from Santa Anita (G1) on Dec. 26. Santa Monica 2021 winner Merneith (7-2), another Baffert runner, was Jan. 2 in the local Kalookan Queen Stakes.
7:10 p.m. – $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes (G2), 4+, 1 1/8 miles, Santa Anita
Express Train (2-1) is looking for back-to-back victories after winning the local San Antonio Stakes (G2) on Dec. 26. Espinoza will pilot Union Rags’ 5-year-old son for trainer John Shirreffs. McCarthy coaches the law professor (5-2), who also won on the December 26 Santa Anita card, in the Mathis Mile Stakes (G2). 2019 Grade 1 winner Eight Rings (3-1) finished third in San Antonio for Baffert.