The 2022 Kentucky Derby takes place at the beginning of May but the races that will shape the field are going on each weekend until then. This weekend features key races for three-year-old Derby hopefuls with the Gotham Stakes in New York and the Fountain of Youth Stakes in Florida. If you’re planning on wagering on the action, we’ve got an in-depth preview for you.
The race to make it to the 2022 Kentucky Derby, which takes place on Saturday, May 7 at Churchill Downs in Kentucky, is as frantic as ever. Top three-year-olds from all over the country and trying to make their case to be one of the 20 horses included in the field. Derby prep races are how they can make that happen.
These races are designated beforehand as ones that well determine the Derby field. They do this by awarding points to the horses who perform the best. When May rolls around, the horses with the most points will receive an invitation to compete in the “Run for the Roses,” which is also the first jewel in thoroughbred racing’s Triple Crown.
On Saturday, two of the most important Derby prep races will be taking place at two historic tracks. At Aqueduct in New York, the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes will grab the attention of Derby bettors everywhere. Just minutes later, it will be the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in Florida, making it quite the double whammy of three-year-old showcases.
Gotham Stakes Betting Preview
- Where: Aqueduct in Queens, New York
- When: Saturday at approximately 5:27 PM Eastern Time
- How Long: 1 mile
- Surface: Dirt
- Purse: $300,000
#1 Runninsonofagun (Jalen Samuel, John Toscano Jr.) 15-1
This sun of Gun Runner is trying to make his way up from the claiming ranks to Derby contention. In his first two races, both maiden races, he was claimed. Runninsonofagun won the second of those to break his maiden and that’s when he joined the Toscano barn.
That change seemed to serve him well, as he picked up a victory in a starter allowance the next time out. This will be his first race at anything longer than six furlongs. And, obviously, the jump in competition is going to be a major issue.
#2 Glider (Antonio Gallardo, Mark Casse) 8-1
If you’re judged by the competition you face, Glider does get a bit of a boost. In his last start, he fought hard but lost to Emmanuel, who will be one of the favorites in the Fountain of Youth Stakes. This will be the first chance for him to face stakes competition. The interesting thing about this is that he is probably only on this path because of rainy day in Florida. That’s when he picked up his maiden win in a race taken off the turf. Glider thrived that day on the dirt and looks like he can improve the more he’s on the surface.
#3 Golden Code ( Kendrick Carmouche, Todd Pletcher) 10-1
Trainer Todd Pletcher has won this race twice before, while jockey Kenrick Carmouche picked up a Gotham win two years ago with Mischevious Alex. The connections know how to do it, and now we’ll see what Golden Code can do in his first stakes race. His two starts were maiden races to this point.
In the second of those, he overwhelmed the field for a romping victory at seven furlongs. Was that a case of a muddy track favoring Golden Code, or did he just figure something out from first to second start? We’ll certainly find out when he faces the tough competition on Saturday.
#4 Fromanuthamutha (Dylan Davis, Ray Handla) 12-1
This colt raced five times as a two-year-old without a win. Included among those was a Grade 2 at Aqueduct where he was up the track in 7th in a race won by Mo Donegal (who might have been favored in the Fountain of Youth) had he not been scratched. Fromanuthamutha broke his maiden in his first start this year.
#5 Dean’s List (Manny Franco, Todd Pletcher) 7-2
The better of the two Todd Pletcher options in this race comes in with an unbeaten record after two starts. He broke his maiden in December at Gulfstream. He came back less than a month later to pick up an allowance victory in his 2-year-old debut.
While the record is nice, the question mark is the distance. Pletcher is trying to hedge his bets a bit by lengthening Dean’s List to a mile, which still keeps him at one turn. How he fares here will determine if he stretched the colt out even further.
#6 Life is Great (Eric Cancel, Bob Klesaris) 12-1
This is another horse in the field who took a while to come up with his maiden victory. Five starts into his career, Life Is Great delivered a win at 7 furlongs on the Aqueduct dirt in November. He then stepped right up into stakes competition. In those two stakes races, Life Is Great has managed a second and a third. The latter of those was his first start this year when showed at Aqueduct in the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes. There might be a little boost for him in his second start off the layoff, but he’ll need it facing this much sterner competition.
#7 Noneedtoworry (Sylvester Gonzalez, Herold Whylie) 20-1
This colt’s path to the Derby trail began in Pennsylvania at Parx Racing, which is where he spent the first five races in his career. It took him a while to get going, as he even finished 10th in one of those early efforts. But then Noneedtoworry picked up back to back wins at Parx in December and January.
That inspired the connections to try him in the Grade 3 Withers at Aqueduct last month. Noneedtoworry finished fifth, but at least he got some good graded stakes experience. That race was at 1 1/8 miles, so he’ll be shortening back up for this one.
#8 Bold Journey (Jorge Vargas Jr., Bill Mott) 10-1
You won’t find too many stakes races that have eluded venerable trainer Bill Mott, but he has never won the Gotham. If that’s going to change this year, he just needs Bold Journey to show a bit more stamina. He coughed up a lead late in his last race, which was his first at a mile.
The good news is that Bold Journey has put forth consistent efforts each time, finishing no worse than second in three tries. With a Mott horse, it’s hard to get a lot of value, because people bet the name of the trainer. But Bold Journey should be somewhere in your consideration.
#9 Morello (Jose Lezcano, Steven Asmussen) 3-1
Jockey Jose Lezcano won a Gotham Stakes back in 2008 with Visionaire, and now he’s here working for Asmussen, one of the top conditioners around. That means Morello has a solid foundation to start. The likely favorite will go to the gate having won his first two races.
The convincing fashion in which Morello won those two races is what stands out. Like a lot of the horses here, this will be his first time at this distance, so there is that concern. But the way he finished his two spring victories should give confidence he can get it done.
#10 Rockefeller (Trevor McCarthy, Bob Baffert) 7-2
Like all other Baffert trainees, it’s up in the air right now as to how Rockefeller might proceed to the Derby because of the trainer’s suspension. But first he has to take care of business with his Derby qualifying points before that even becomes a problem. He has more stakes experience than anybody in this field by a wide margin.