Time is short for Kentucky Derby prospects trained by Baffert

Time is short for Kentucky Derby prospects trained by Baffert
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

Upon the completion of Saturday’s Tampa Bay Derby (G2), only 10 qualifying races will remain for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Eight of those offer the maximum 185 points, with 100 going to the winner.

For the owners of horses trained by Bob Baffert, this means time is getting short if they hope to qualify for the May 7 classic. Yet all indications from those with viable contenders show that no change is coming. 

Baffert has been suspended for two years from the Kentucky Derby by host track Churchill Downs. The ban, which Baffert is trying to overturn in federal court, was put in place after Medina Spirit’s failed post-race drug test at last year’s Kentucky Derby.

[What's next in the Bob Baffert Kentucky Derby drug saga?]

The suspension handed down by Churchill Downs also bars any horses trained by Baffert from accruing Derby points during the prep season.

So far, seven Baffert 3-year-olds have been forced to vacate a total of 101 qualifying points on this year’s Derby trail: Corniche (30), Newgrange (20) Doppelganger (20) and Messier (10), all of whom would rank in the top 16 on the Derby leaderboard without the suspension; plus Blackadder (10), Rockefeller (5) and Wharton (2).

Baffert currently has 13 sophomores listed in the Derby futures in Nevada, down from 16 the last week of February. But in practical terms, only a handful of those colts – Newgrange, Doppelganger, Messier and Pinehurst, who is currently in Dubai – would seem at this point to be viable Derby starters. Maiden winner McLaren Vale was scratched from an Oaklawn allowance 2 1/2 weeks ago and could conceivably surface in a Derby prep.

When asked about those contenders' status Tuesday, SF Racing's Tom Ryan replied, "All is well."

HorseOwnerStatusBest Vegas odds
MessierSF Racing et al.Dominated the Feb. 6 Robert B. Lewis (G3); 2 works since late February13-1
CornicheSpeedway StablesCurrently at WinStar Farm; No works since winning Breeders' Cup Juvenile40-1
NewgrangeSF Racing et al. Won the Southwest (G3); most recently 6th as favorite in Feb. 26 Rebel (G2) 75-1
TaibaZedan Racing$1.7 million auction buy won bow impressively last Saturday at Santa Anita75-1
DoppelgangerSF Racing et al.Well-beaten 2nd in San Felipe (G2) after a 4th behind same rival in the seven-furlong San Vicente (G2)125-1
PinehurstSF Racing et al.Won Saudi Derby (G3); pointed to UAE Derby (G2) on March 26125-1
RockefellerSF Racing et al.Last in Gotham (G3) after troubled start; previously 2nd in Jan. 1 Sham (G3)175-1
Gold Rush CandyDianne BashorUnraced since breaking maiden last August; has worked 3 times since Feb. 9175-1
EnbarrBaoma Corp. Won Capote; worked 3 times since Feb. 11 at Los Alamitos200-1
WhartonSF Racing et al.3rd in Lewis Feb. 6; no works since Feb. 18225-1
Flying DrummerMichael Lund PetersenBroke maiden Dec. 31; working at Santa Anita250-1
McLaren ValeSF Racing et al.Scratched from allowance at Oaklawn Feb. 26; working steadily at SA300-1
MontebelloSF Racing et al. 2nd in Sept. 18 Capote; working at Santa Anita since Dec. 29.300-1

If the owners of any of the colts listed above wish to take a final swing at the Derby, they will need to find a new trainer for the remaining preps for a chance to qualify. The table below lists the remaining qualifying races for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, minus Saturday's Tampa Bay Derby, which has no Baffert nominees.

  Race  Points  Nomination status
UAE Derby100-40-20-10Newgrange, Pinehurst, Rockefeller
among 138 'entries' for March 26 race
Sunland Park Derby50-20-10-5Close Friday for March 27 race
Louisiana Derby100-40-20-10Close Saturday for March 26 race
Arkansas Derby100-40-20-10Close March 18 for April 2 race
Jeff Ruby Steaks100-40-20-10Close March 19 for April 2 race
Florida Derby100-40-20-10Close March 20 for April 2 race
Blue Grass100-40-20-10Close March 23 for April 9 race
Wood Memorial100-40-20-10Close March 26 for April 9 race
Lexington Stakes20-8-4-2Close March 30 for April 16 race
Santa Anita Derby100-40-20-10Close March 31 for April 9 race

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