With the calendar now turned to 2022, it’s time to look forward to some of winter’s big racing events, many of which lead up to the Kentucky Derby on May 7. Most weekends include a slate of Derby prep races for 3-year-old horses who hope to fill one of the 20 starting gate spots at Churchill Downs in the “Run for the Roses”.
Gulfstream hosts January’s showstopping event though — the $3 million Pegasus World Cup Invitational (Gr. I) — on Saturday the 29th. In addition to hosting some of the world’s best horses in the “Cup”, the card features seven additional graded stakes including the $1 million, Grade 1 Pegasus World Cup Turf Invitational, Grade 2 Inside Information Stakes and a four-pack of Grade 3’s — the $500,000 Pegasus Filly/Mare Turf along with the William McKnight, Fred W. Hooper and La Prevoyante Stakes.
Derby prep action kicks off earlier in the month with the $125,000 Pasco Stakes January 15 at Tampa Bay Downs. Also on the card is the $125,000 Casparilla Stakes. Santa Anita chips in with a handful of California-bred stakes the same day including the $200,000 Cal Cup Derby.
Fair Grounds hosts a graded Derby prep the next Saturday (Jan. 22) and a stakes-filled under card. The $200,000 Lecomte (Gr. 3) is a prep for their Risen Star Stakes and then the Louisiana Derby. The Grade 3 Louisiana Stakes, Silverbulletday and three other stakes complement the big race.
Stakes for 3-year-olds continue in a big way in the coming weeks. On Pegasus Day, the $750,000 Southwest (Gr. 3) and $200,000 San Vincente (Gr. 2) will go to post at Oaklawn and Santa Anita respectively followed by the the $250,000 Withers (Gr. 3) and $250,000 Holy Bull (Gr. 3) Feb. 5 at Aqueduct and Gulfstream, and the Robert B. Lewis (Gr. 3) Feb. 6 at Santa Anita.
The quality of Derby preps really picks up in February and fans should circle these dates to continue pursuit of who will advance to the 2022 “Roses” field — the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa (Feb. 12), the Risen Star at Fair Grounds (Feb. 19), the Rebel at Oaklawn (Feb. 26) and a can’t miss day on March 5 with a stellar four-pack that includes the Grade 3 Gotham at Aqueduct, Grade 2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream, Grade 2 San Felipe at Santa Anita and John Battaglia Stakes at Turfway.
Fans can watch and wager all the action a number of ways. Virginia residents can bet online from the comfort of home via four online wagering partners — TVG.com, Xpressbet.com, Twinspires.com and NYRABets.com. Just open an account, fund it, then begin wagering and winning.
Feeling a desire to venture out? Every Rosie’s Gaming Emporium has a live racing simulcast area where you can wager via live tellers or self-bet terminals. Rosie’s has locations in New Kent (at Colonial Downs Racetrack), Richmond, Hampton, Dumfries, Collinsville and the newly expanded site in Vinton. Wagers can also be placed at VA-Horseplay Off Track Betting (OTB) Centers in Chesapeake (Buckets Bar & Grill) and Henrico (Breakers Sports Grille).