The gate to the 2021-22 Kentucky Derby trail came down Saturday, with Tawny Port winning the final Derby prep on the trail: the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes.
That brought the Brad Cox-trained colt safely in the field with 60 points, courtesy of the 20 he earned with his one-length victory over Major General. There was symmetry to this exacta finish since Major General won the first Derby prep: last September’s Grade 3 Iroquois Stakes at Churchill Downs.
That victory in the first of 48 Derby prep races brought Major General eight points, giving him 18. In Due Time, who needed a win to put him in the Derby field, finished third. The four points coming with that brought him to 24 points, where he sits 22nd. Ethereal Road, who wheeled back on one week’s rest after a dreadful Blue Grass Stakes, finished fourth, giving him two points. He sits 23rd on the ladder with 22 points.
Happy Jack sits on the bubble in 20th place with 30 points. The Doug O’Neill-trained colt grabbed his spot with third-place finishes in two Derby preps: the Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes and Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby. That puts him five points ahead of Pioneer of Medina, six up on In Due Time and eight ahead of Ethereal Road.
Derby prep points are fixed, but scenarios aren’t
That trio would need defections from horses above to get into the field. Based on history, Pioneer of Medina, In Due Time and Ethereal Road are by no means out of the Derby picture.
That’s because it bears noting these standings are fluid. Because while the Derby preps are done and the points are set, the horses aren’t. A lot can happen between Tawny Port’s exiting the Keeneland winner’s circle and the Churchill Downs gates opening May 7. Just in the last couple weeks, three Derby prospects: Forbidden Kingdom, Classic Causeway and Slow Down Andy exited the trail due to injury or form.
Last year, Hidden Stash was 23rd in points after the final Derby prep. Defections above him put him into the field, where he finished 13th.
Eight members of the 100-point club
Typically, the points cutoff after the final Derby prep is 40, which is what it was last year. But with Slow Down Andy and his 60 points exiting due to a fever Saturday, that put Charge It and his 40 points into 19th place. Tawny Port sat on that 20th place bubble until his Lexington Stakes victory took him off it and lifted him into 11th place.
With the Derby prep season complete, there are four horses with 40 points who sit 16th through 19th on the list: Messier, Zozos, Summer Is Tomorrow and Charge It. After the Derby preps, they are all safely in, ranked based on the tiebreaker: earnings in non-restricted stakes races.
2022 Kentucky Derby Final Points Standings
|3||White Abarrio||112||Saffie Joseph Jr.||$769,650|
|4||Mo Donegal||112||Todd Pletcher||$561,500|
|5||Tiz the Bomb||110||Kenny McPeek||$1,012,610|
|7||Crown Pride||100||Koichi Shintani||$671,544|
|10||Smile Happy||70||Kenny McPeek||$499,410|
|11||Tawny Port||60||Brad Cox||$351,400|
|12||Barber Road||58||John Ortiz||$589,700|
|13||Un Ojo||54||Ricky Courville||$661,250|
|14||Early Voting||50||Chad Brown||$277,500|
|18||Summer Is Tomorrow||40||Bhupat Seemar||$200,000|
|19||Charge It||40||Todd Pletcher||$188,000|
|20||Happy Jack||30||Doug O’Neill||$142,000|
|21||Pioneer of Medina||25||Todd Pletcher||$116,000|
|22||In Due Time||24||Kelly Breen||$113,800|
|23||Ethereal Road||22||D. Wayne Lukas||$231,000|
|24||Rich Strike||21||Eric Reed||$74,500|
|25||Rattle N Roll||20||Kenny McPeek||$356,500|
|26||Skippylongstocking||20||Saffie Joseph Jr.||$86,350|
|27||Major General||18||Todd Pletcher||$251,525|
Topping the list is Epicenter, who finished with 164 points. The lone millionaire currently in the field is Tiz the Bomb with $1,012,610. He sits fifth with 110 points, one of eight horses with 100 or more points.