Kentucky Derby scouting report: 22 names from the Midwest

Kentucky Derby scouting report: 22 names from the Midwest
Photo: Eclipse Sportswire

The Midwest contenders for the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby are numerous at this point of the year, as juveniles continue to show up on the scene and Derby points races have begun. Here is a look at possible names for the 2022 Run for the Roses.

Click here to see 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders

Central Division Derby names

(Best odds - sire - trainer - owner - Derby points if applicable)

The leader

Pappacap (45-1 - Gun Runner - M . Casse - Rustlewood Farm - 12)

The Gun Runner colt has not yet won a Derby points race, but he leads in the points standings off the strength of runner-up efforts in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and the American Pharoah (G1).

Pappacap could make his next appearance in the Lecomte (G3) on Jan. 22 at Fair Grounds.

Top tier

Rattle N Roll (25-1 - Connect - K. McPeek - Lucky Seven Stable - 10)

After not finishing in his second attempt to break his maiden, a race at Saratoga, Rattle N Roll came roaring onto the scene with a win at Churchill Downs. He followed that with a score in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at Keeneland in October, earning 10 Derby points.

Smile Happy (24-1 - Runhappy - K. McPeek - Lucky Seven Stable - 10) 

The Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) was supposed to be the dirt coming-out party for another McPeek trainee, Tiz the Bomb, who was favored on the morning line. But that colt scratched before the race and Smile Happy made up for it, winning the race to earn 10 Derby points.

Smile Happy finished the opening edition of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager at 8-1.

Second tier

Classic Causeway (44-1 - Giant’s Causeway -  B. Lynch - Kentucky West Racing and Cooper M. Clarke - 6)

The colt finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity and second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) to earn his six Derby points. Lynch has said that he will point Classic Causeway toward the Holy Bull (G3) on Feb. 5 at Gulfstream.

Giant Game (100-1 - Giant’s Causeway - D. Romans - West Point Thoroughbred and Albaugh Family Stables - 4)

Giant Game put in a fierce effort in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile to earn a third-place finish. Trainer Dale Romans said he does not have a race set in stone for the colt’s next appearance, but the Holy Bull is a possibility.

Oviatt Class (100-1 - Bernardini - K. Desormeaux - James E. Downey - 2)

Oviatt Class earned his two Kentucky Derby points with a third-place finish in the American Pharoah (G1). He ran fifth in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.


Red Knobs
(200-1 - Union Rags - D. Romans - Jim bakke and Gerald Isbister - 2)

Another talented 2-year-old in the Romans barn, Red Knobs finished third in the first Kentucky Derby prep of the season, the Iroquois (G3) at Churchill Downs. After that, he finished eighth in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Ben Diesel (125-1 - Will Take Charge - D. Stewart - Willis Horton Racing - 1)

After breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31, the Will Take Charge colt came back for the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he finished fourth. He closed the first pool of the KDFW at 66-1.


Bourbon Heist
(100-1 - Practical Joke - I. Wilkes – E. Woolsey and K. Asmussen – 1)

Despite not having won a race, Bourbon Heist earned a single Kentucky Derby point by finishing fourth in the Iroquois. In his most recent trip, a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs on Oct. 31, he finished second.

Others to watch

Gunite (100-1 – Gun Runner – S. Asmussen – Winchell Thoroughbreds)

After earning his diploma at Churchill Downs in June, it was off to Saratoga for the Gun Runner colt, where he finished second in the Saratoga Special (G2) before earning a Grade 1 win in the Hopeful. He finished fifth in his most recent race, the Champagne (G1) at Belmont Park.

Gunite closed the first KDFW pool at 25-1

Stellar Tap (100-1 - Tapit - S. Asmussen – L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds)

After breaking his maiden at Saratoga in August, Stellar Tap has not managed to hit the board in either of his two appearances. He finished fifth in the Iroquois and seventh in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Echo Zulu (100-1 - Gun Runner - S. Asmussen – L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds)

The current points system makes things difficult for a filly to find her way into the Derby, but if Asmussen opted to go that route with her, it could make sense. Echo Zulu is undefeated through four races, with Grade 1 wins in the Spinaway, Frizette and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies.

Classic Moment (100-1 - Classic Empire - S. Asmussen – L and N Racing and Winchell Thoroughbreds)

Classic Moment, a $350,000 purchase at the 2020 Keeneland September yearling sale, broke his maiden on second asking on Nov. 5 at Churchill Downs. He worked five furlongs Monday at Remington Park.

Cyberknife (75-1 - Gun Runner - B. Cox – Gold Square)

Another from Gun Runner’s first sire crop, Cyberknife has finished second in two maiden races at Churchill Downs. He was a $400,000 purchase at the 2020 Fasig-Tipton selected yearlings showcase.

Rocket Dawg (100-1 - Classic Empire - B. Cox – Frank Fletcher Racing Operations and Ten Strike Racing)

The Classic Empire colt impressed on debut at Churchill Downs, winning by 5 1/2 lengths on Nov. 19. He was a $375,000 purchase at the same sale as Cyberknife.

Tiz the Bomb (75-1 - Hit It a Bomb - K. McPeek – Phoenix Thoroughbred)

Tiz the Bomb was set to run in his first dirt stakes race at Churchill Downs in the Kentucky Jockey Club as the morning-line favorite, but race-day inflammation kept him out of that race. He is a graded-stakes winner on turf from the Bourbon (G2) at Keeneland and finished second in the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile Turf.

Osbourne (155-1 - Tapiture - R. Moquett – Southern Springs Stables, the estate of Floyd Sagely and Mark Tauber)

After breaking his maiden on second asking Nov. 17 at Churchill Downs, the gelding moved to Oaklawn Park, where he could run in the Smarty Jones. In his first race, he finished second to Howling Time.

Texas Red Hot (200-1 - Texas Red - R. Morse – D D Stables)

The Texas Red colt tried his luck in graded-stakes company on Nov. 27 in the Kentucky Jockey Club, where he finished 10th and was never a factor. He had performed well in his previous race, winning an allowance event at Churchill Downs.

Roger McQueen (175-1 - Unified - L. Rivelli – Carolyn Wilson)

Roger McQueen took a bump in the Iroquois and gave way late, finishing ninth. He had showed out in his previous race, winning the Ellis Park Juvenile.

Howling Time (75-1 - Not This Time - D. Romans – Albaugh Family Stable)

After breaking his maiden on debut at Churchill Downs, Howling Time went on to win the Street Sense there on Oct. 31. He ran back on Nov. 27 in the Kentucky Jockey Club, finishing in fifth place, just outside of the Derby points payout.

Bueno Bueno (200-1 - Lord Nelson - J. Sisterson – Calumet Farm)

The Lord Nelson colt had a strong showing over the summer at Ellis Park, breaking his maiden and winning an allowance race, both in July. He has recently returned to work at Keeneland.

Trafalgar (125-1 - Lord Nelson - A. Stall Jr. – Columbine Stables)

Trafalgar broke his maiden in October at Churchill Downs before making his way to Fair Grounds for the winter, where he won an allowance race last Thursday. He finished the first pool of the KDFW at 98-1.

Remaining Midwest Derby points races:

Springboard Mile — Remington Park — Dec. 17

Gun Runner — Fair Grounds — Dec. 26

Smarty Jones — Oaklawn — Jan. 1

Lecompte — Fair Grounds — Jan. 22

Southwest — Oaklawn — Jan. 29

Risen Star — Fair Grounds — Feb. 19

Rebel — Oaklawn — Feb. 26

John Battaglia Memorial — Turfway Park — March 5

Louisiana Derby — Fair Grounds — March 26

Arkansas Derby — Oaklawn — April 2

Jeff Ruby Steaks — Turfway Park — April 2

Blue Grass — Keeneland — April 9

Lexington — Keeneland — April 16

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