Kentucky Derby 2022: The Trail narrows ... Secret Oath?

Turfwriter J.N. Campbell takes a look at his Top 10 Derby Contenders following the Tampa Bay Derby, and there are certainly some surprises in-store, as the Trail narrows! Have a read ...
Turfwriter J.N. Campbell takes a look at his Top 10 Derby Contenders following the Tampa Bay Derby, and there are certainly some surprises in-store, as the Trail narrows! Have a read ...

Welcome to the 2nd edition of rankings for the 2022 “Run for the Roses”—The 148th Kentucky Derby. Each week our staff will rank our current Top Ten Thoroughbreds.

With KYD148 “Points” up for grabs over the next 4 weeks, it is going to be exciting to watch how each colt jockeys for position on this list. The final Derby Future Wager just ended on Sunday, and along with the only KYOaks betting event, it is telling just how the pari-mutuel masses are leaning.

Just as before, some will rise, while others will fall … Once again, Lead Turfwriter J.N. Campbell offers his selections, along with a brief analysis of where these colts ran, and when we might see them again.

Take a look, and join us along the Derby Trail!

Kentucky Derby 2021 Contenders: Based on KYD Future Wager Pool 4 Odds

#1 Secret Oath (4/1, All Others): It is wonderful to see not just a filly in the conversation about KYD contenders, but also one that is trained by the legendary, D. Wayne Lukas. The HOF trainer confirmed that this daughter of the late Arrogate is headed to the Arkansas Derby (G1). She appears to have it all … late gears (i.e., Honeybee G3), speed figs, the ability to stretch out, and she has her nomination to the Derby. All is in order … except “Points.” I would not count this one out. Lukas knows the trials of taking a filly into tough races like these … recall he scored the last “Roses” victory with Winning Colors and young Gary Stevens in what seems like eons ago. Now, Luis Contreras gets a chance. The sky is the limit. She wins … she is in! Derby Pts: 0

#2 Epicenter (13/1): HOF trainer Steve Asmussen has done it all! … except win the Derby. He has come close in a pair of efforts … Lookin At Lee and Nehro. This colt by Not This Time began his trip along in the Trail after a promising score in the newly-minted Gun Runner S. @FG. Aptly-named, that race honored Winchell T-Breds greatest “runner.” Asmussen then chose to test the Louisiana Series in the Lecomte S. (G3), and the Risen S. (G2). In the former, the colt was just beaten at the wire by long shot Call Me Midnight. Super jockey Joel Rosario did not let that happen again in the latter with a frontrunning score. With only one test remaining, the Louisiana Derby (G1) in less than 2 weeks, he will be the favorite. Derby Pts: 64

#3 Forbidden Kingdom (7/1): Here is another HOF trainer that has done it all … except win the … His BC record is of course impeccable, but recently he has not had much to cheer about. The Triple Crown Trail has never been a strong suit, but he did make some noise with Omaha Beach a few years back. In ’22, both Spendthrift Farm, and MyRacehorse, have put their faith in him, and he has delivered. This colt has a powerful engine, and the move to 2 turns seemed “easy as pie” in the Grade 2 San Felipe S. That was a scorcher, and it sure answered a number of questions. Like Contreras, JJ Hernandez is not a rider that has gotten much national acclaim. We would expect to see him aboard this 3-yr-old next month in the Santa Anita Derby (G1). If all goes well, then Mandella could have one of the favorites in the starting gate on the “1st Saturday in May.” Derby Pts: 50

#4 Classic Causeway (10/1):  Brian Lynch was employed by Kentucky West Racing and Clarke Cooper to take a shot with this son of Giant’s Causeway along the Derby Trail. Some say that he has had an easy time of it, staying put in Tampa, and winning both the Sam F. Davis (G3), and last weekend, the Tampa Bay Derby (G2). Sure, his Beyer Speed Fig of 84 seemed low. But wins are wins … and even though Tampa is not ground zero for Derby runs, this one is a budding talent. Irad Ortiz asked the question, and his mount responded in kind. It is hard to knock a great gate presence, coupled with the ability to get to the lead … that means everything on dirt.  Derby Pts: 66

#5 Un Ojo (36/1): The one-eyed wonder … how does a horse take the rail route in a G2, without a left eye, in an impending sleet storm, and win the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn? Talent … pure talent … The son of Laoban was transferred from Ricky Courville’s outfit up to the Dutrow Barn last fall. Cypress Creek Equine wanted to test the NYRA waters, and their colt ran an impressive 2nd in the Grade 3 Withers S., going 1 1/8th. He returned to Hot Springs, and Courville watched from home as his charge performed nicely under Ramon Vazquez. That was that jockey’s greatest win of his career, and it certainly made many racetrackers think this might be a star. What a story … he lost his eye as a yearling in an accident, but did not let that stop him. Will a return to Oaklawn be in the cards? Arkansas Derby … Grade 1 vs. another tough field … probably set. Derby Pts: 54

#6 Morello (17/1): Another Asmussen runner makes “The List,” and this one destroyed the field in the G2 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct a few weeks ago. It was quite a follow-up to the Jimmy Winkfield S., and it probably got the HOF thinking that he has yet another card to play in this game. Blue Lion Thoroughbreds is part-owner, and we would expect some maintenance drills to lead to next month’s running of the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. The real question will remain till then … can this son of Classic Empire tackle a pair of turns? If he can, he will be my sleeper pick in the Derby. Watch out for this one! Derby Pts: 50

#7 Simplification (19/1): One of the hotter sires right now along the Trail is Not This Time. Here is yet another colt that is producing results. Antonio Sano has made a name for himself down in South Florida, and it is not easy establishing a beachhead in Todd Pletcher’s backyard. This colt of his has a unique running style, and can handle off-the-pace, as well as up on the engine. A Florida bred, like Medina Spirit, owner Tami Bobo is hoping for great things from her investment. Last out, in the Fountain of Youth (G2), Sano’s colt seized the lead in the stretch, after a tough accident at the top of the lane. Undeterred, he pressed on for the win. We expect to see this 3-yr-old in the Florida Derby (G1), and what a race that is going to be! Derby Pts: 54

#8 White Abarrio (22/1): A mention of Sano leads to a discussion of rival Saffie Joseph. This conditioner has worked hard these past years to establish a strong stable at Gulfstream. This colt by Race Day certainly earned his keep in the Holy Bull (G3) back in early February. Joseph chose to rest him, and by the looks of his work tab, he appears to be doing well. If he is sharp after this break, then it could be a sign that he is ready to stretch out to the “Classic” distance. It will not be easy, but with Tyler Gaffalione aboard, that helps. Derby Pts: 12

#9 Zandon (22/1): Chad Brown has some unbelievable numbers when it comes to shipping and Graded Stakes. He could have a very strong entry for the Kentucky Derby in this well-bred colt by Upstart. Brown made the decision to ship this runner down to New Orleans for the Risen Star S. (G2). He ran a great 2nd half of the contest, and finished 3rd behind Epicenter and Smile Happy. If you watched that stretch run, then that should have brought a grin to your face. Jeff Drown’s colt may have lost the Remsen S. (G2) to Mo Donegal by a whisker over a foul, but he has the ability to make an impact. Brown has confirmed that he will be sending this 3-yr-old to the Blue Grass S. (G2) next month at Keeneland … a tactic he has used before. Derby Pts: 14

#10 Barber Road (39/1): There are more “fashionable” picks to be found (see below), but let’s face it, John Ortiz’s son of Race Day is incredibly consistent. In 7 career starts (the last 4 stakes), he has taken on all the challenges. Even though he does not have a win since a Starter Allowance back at Churchill in early November, that doesn’t mean he cannot make it to a winner’s circle soon. Ortiz has brought him along nicely, and his run through the Arkansas Series has been nothing short of stellar. A 2nd in the “Smarty,” a 2nd in the Southwest S. (G3), and last time, a 3rd in the Rebel S. (G2), translate to holding your own. We expect that he will return in the Arkansas Derby (G1) next month, and I would not be surprised if he collects even more “Points” then. Derby Pts: 18


Others to consider, include … Chad Brown’s Early Voting (19/1), Kelly Breen’s In Due Time (48/1), D. Wayne Lukas’ Ethereal Road (32/1), Kenny McPeek’s Smile Happy (6/1), Todd Pletcher’s Charge It (17/1) and Dean’s List (4/1, All Others), and Brad Cox’s Zozos (30/1) … all continue to look promising!


Join us for another installment of the “Derby Top 10” when we rundown those that might make it to 148! The 1st Saturday in May will be here before you know it!

Kentucky Derby 2022