Welcome to the 2022 Kentucky Derby notebook!
Each week leading into, as well as following a weekend of Kentucky Derby Prep races, I will be putting out a notebook that takes a quick look back at the previous weekends prep races, as well as a look forward
January 1 was not only the day all 2-year-old horses officially turned 3, but it also featured three prep races – the Jerome, Smarty Jones, and the Sham.
Jerome (Aqueduct, 10-4-2-1 points): Courvoisier stalked the pace, took the lead at the top of the stretch, then pulled away for the win over Smarten Up, Cooke Creek, and Unbridled Bomber. Jose Ortiz had the ride for trainer Kelly Breen. The winner is said to be set for the Withers, also at Aqueduct on February 5.
Smarty Jones (Oaklawn Park, 10-4-2-1): Dash Attack was sitting in 8th ¾-mile into the race, but then charged home for the win, beating Barber Road, Ignitis, and fourth place Kavod. The horse is perfect in two starts for trainer Kenny McPeak. The next prep race at Oaklawn is set for Jan. 29 with the Southwest.
Sham (Santa Anita, 10-4-2-1): One race that showcases everything that is going to be wrong with the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Bob Baffert, by virtue of a positive drug test from 2021 Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit (there has been no DQ yet of Medina Spirit), is not allowed to run any horses in the 2022 Derby. What he is still allowed to do in some cases, is run his 3-year-old Derby prep races, but is not allowed to have his horses earn any points. So, what happens when he sends two horses out in the Sham? They run 1-2, as Newgrange and Rockefeller took the top two spots. As a result, Oviatt Class (2 points) and Mackinnon (1 point) are the lone points recipients of Derby qualifying points.
We knew coming in this was not going to be a good look for horse racing, but for everything to be exposed in one of the first prep races of 2022 is embarrassing.
This year’s Derby is already being cheapened and it will be universally agreed that the best field possible will not be heading into the starting gate May 7 at Churchill Downs.
Plus, Baffert will be allowed to run horses in the Preakness – the second leg of the Triple Crown. How many good runners do you think he will send out in that race, likely spoiling any chance of a Triple Crown this year?
A move which is supposed to punish Baffert is instead punishing the fans, as well as the sport of horse racing.
By Dennis Miller