FLORENCE, Ky. (FOX 56) – As Keeneland prepares for the beginning of its spring meet, headlined by the Blue Grass Stakes on April 9, three other prep races handed out Kentucky Derby qualifying points on Saturday.
The Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park in Florence handed a 100 point prize to Tiz The Bomb, a colt owned by Magdalena Racing from Lexington. White Abarrio won the Florida Derby and Cyberknife took the Arkansas Derby on Saturday.
Check out more on the Florida Derby and Arkansas Derby, via the Associated Press.
HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. (AP) — White Abarrio and Charge It were the first two horses across the finish line at the Florida Derby on Saturday.
Soon, both might be on their way to Churchill Downs.
White Abarrio made a big move to prevail in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, getting to the lead in the stretch and holding off a late challenge from Charge It to win the Grade 1, $1 million race.
“I don’t even know what to say right now,” said winning jockey Tyler Gaffalione, a South Florida native. “I feel like I’m on cloud nine. I’m just so thankful and I feel so blessed. This is all my childhood dreams come true. To win the Florida Derby, growing up down here, it’s just so amazing.”
But what mattered most to those horses was points: White Abarrio got 100 Kentucky Derby qualifying points for the win and is now certain to have a spot in the May 7 race at Churchill Downs, while Charge It got 40 for finishing second — which should be enough to get him in the first race of this year’s Triple Crown series as well.
“I think he earned enough points and showed he’s good enough now,” Charge It trainer Todd Pletcher said. “Just got to see how he comes out of it and come up with a plan.
White Abarrio finished the 1-1/8 miles in 1 minute, 50.78 seconds for Gaffalione and trainer Saffie Joseph, Jr. White Abarrio returned $7.80, $4.20 and $2.80 for the win. Charge It paid $5 and $3.20 to place and Simplification paid $2.60 to show.
If all goes to plan, White Abarrio will be the second Kentucky Derby starter for Joseph. He took Ny Traffic there in 2020 and finished eighth.
“You just want it to stay somewhat healthy and go there and get a clean trip,” he said. “It’s going to be a nice journey to enjoy. I’m going to try to enjoy it, and hopefully all goes well, and we’ll get to show up at the Derby and enjoy it like we enjoyed today.”
There could be as many as five horses from the Florida Derby heading to the Kentucky Derby.
Simplification and Classic Causeway — the Florida Derby’s early leader — had enough points before Saturday. Simplification’s third-place finish earned him 20 points, pushing his total to 74. Classic Causeway faded about midway through Saturday’s race and remained at 66 points, which will be more than enough if his connections decide to send him to Kentucky.
And Pappacap was fourth and got 10 points, giving him 24 — possibly enough to get him into the Kentucky Derby mix.
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. (AP) — Cyberknife won the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby by 2 3/4 lengths on Saturday in the richest prep race for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Florent Geroux, who got dumped in the post parade, Cyberknife ran 1 1/8 miles in 1:50.42. The 3-year-old colt earned 100 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby on May 7. He paid $13.60, $7 and $3.60.
Cyberknife sat off the pace before taking the lead in the stretch for trainer Brad Cox, who also won the Oaklawn Mile with Fulsome.
“Great effort with some high hopes for him. We always thought he was very talented,” Geroux said. “Looks like he finally put it together and he’s probably not even 100% as he was zig-zagging down the lane.”
Cyberknife, a son of 2017 Horse of the Year Gun Runner, has three wins in six career starts and earnings of $860,000.
Barber Road returned $7.40 and $4 and earned 40 qualifying points.
Secret Oath, the filly trained by 86-year-old Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, paid $2.80 to show as the 7-5 wagering favorite. She earned 20 qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby, although she may run in the Derby-eve Kentucky Oaks, where she’s already qualified.
“We got outrun,” Lukas said. “The race didn’t unfold like you’d hope it to. It just didn’t come together. We got bumped at the start and that got her back too far and then she made that monster move (on the second turn). It’s hard to sustain it.”
Doppelganger finished fourth and earned 10 qualifying points. The colt had been with Hall of Famer Bob Baffert before being transferred to Tim Yakteen. Baffert’s 90-day suspension begins Monday. He has been sanctioned stemming from the disqualification of Medina Spirit, who finished first in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.