The great thing about Thoroughbred horse racing is that the thrills are always there. The springtime, however, lends an all-new excitement as dreams of Kentucky Derby glory are dancing through the minds of many.  Of course, the key to winning the world’s most famous race is getting in the starting gates. With that in mind let’s make a quick forecast of three races on April 2 that will grant the winner enough qualifying points to make post on the first Saturday in May.


Run at Gulfstream Park, this race has long been a springboard to Churchill Downs. Simplification was very impressive in winning the Fountain of Youth Stakes back in early March. White Abarrio is a perfect 3 for 3 lifetime at Gulfstream.  Both are likely post-time favorites. Going a bit against the grain here, we like Classic Causeway. Trained by Brian Lynch and 2 for 2 as a three-year-old (Sam F Davis, Tampa Derby), this son of Giant’s Causeway can take’em gate to wire. Listed at 7-2 on the morning line, he too will be among the top selections at the window.


Always a pathway to immortality, the Arkansas Derby has been moved up a couple of weeks this year. Veteran trainer D Wayne Lukas hopes to shake up the world with filly Secret Oath. Fabulously fast, this daughter of Arrogate has her pappy’s turn of foot and is the morning line favorite (5-2). Yes, she can do it, but we are going to take a big swing here with Ben Diesel (15-1). A son of Will Take Charge, he has run in all three Derby preps at Oaklawn without much success (third Southwest Stakes). So why take the Diesel ?… Trainer Dallas Stewart has a way of getting runners ready on the big days and recent works indicate Ben Diesel is hitting on all cylinders.


  Run at Turfway Park, this is one the best-named races in the game. Is there anything better than a steak from Jeff Ruby’s? Coming up pretty tough, this race run over a synthetic surface features turf heavyweights Tiz The Bomb (2-1) and Stolen Base (7-2). Thinking outside the box again, we like another turf horse in Dowagiac Chief (8-1). A Kentucky Downs graduate that always runs hard, this son of Cairo Prince won the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds last out. Trained by Tom Amoss, the Chief might just go gate to wire if he gets loose out front.


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3/5/2022 – Dowagiac Chief leads the field into the stretch and goes on to win the 44th running of the Black Gold Stakes at Fair Grounds. Hodges Photography / Jan Brubaker