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2022 Kentucky Derby Prep Race Betting Odds & Picks: Pappacap Headlines Tough Lecomte Stakes Field (Jan. 22)

2022 Kentucky Derby Prep Race Betting Odds & Picks: Pappacap Headlines Tough Lecomte Stakes Field (Jan. 22) article feature image
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Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images. Pictured: Pappacap, with jockey Joe Bravo aboard, finished second in the 2021 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile.

Life on the road to the Kentucky Derby is about to heat up, with another exciting, lengthy journey that will combine moments of glory with bits of utter disappointment taking place along the way.

Hundreds of racing connections tied to hopefuls have the same dream. And that’s simple: to earn one of 20 spots in the starting gate and compete in the world’s most well-known, most-watched race taking place on the first Saturday of May on the hallowed grounds at Churchill Downs.

We’ve had a few very minor prep races take place thus far, but things really get started Saturday with nine horses chasing the victory in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes at Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans.

Handicapper Jeremy Pond is joined by TVG analyst Andie Biancone on this year’s Derby trail, with the duo delivering their best bets and top selections for more than 20 races leading up to the first jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

Let’s take a look at the Lecomte field and where the pair has landed for this intriguing race, as well as on some exotic wagers — including a Late Pick 4 and Pick 5 tickets — to close out the stacked card.

2022 Lecome Stakes (Grade III) Odds

*Latest Odds via TVG

PP | HORSE ODDS (MORNING LINE) JOCKEY
1 — Surfer Dude 15-1 Reylu Gutierrez
2 — Unified Report 12-1 Corey Lanerie
3 — Pappacap 9-5 Joe Bravo
4 — Trafalgar 6-1 Colby Hernandez
5 — Epicenter 2-1 Joel Rosario
6 — Cyberknife 6-1 Florent Geroux
7 — Blue Kentucky 20-1 Jareth Loveberry
8 — Call Me Midnight 20-1 James Graham
9 — Presidential 15-1 Brian Hernandez, Jr.

Lecomte Stakes Best Bets & Longshots

Andie Biancone

  • No. 3 Pappacap (9-5): It’s no question that this horse is a freak.

Pappacap has only finished off the board once in his career, but that was in the Grade 1 Del Mar Futurity which — at seven furlongs — might not have been his most ideal distance at that caliber. My only concern for this horse would be his extensive two-year-old season, but according to the connections, this colt has been training better than ever.

This horse has the most stand-out back class in the entire field, with short-margined, second-place finishes in the American Pharoah and Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, both of which are Grade I events.

I typically have a hard time supporting horses on the Derby trail who have run so extensively at a young age, but Pappacap has been so impressive against such salty company, I can’t knock his chances one bit, especially in what seems like a relatively mild field.

  • No. 5 Epicenter (2-1): I really try not to pick heavy favorites, but this horse was so impressive in the Gun Runner stakes race that I couldn’t discount him.

I almost like him more than Pappacap, solely based on his most recent performance. He drew away from a field by 6 1/2 lengths with such commanding ease, with a hand ride down the lane. Epicenter ran a 1 1/16 miles in 1 minute, 44 seconds without ever being contended, and he looked like he had plenty more to give.

This is another horse who will greatly benefit from that inside speed. I have a deep appreciation for the way he settles in a race, even pushing fast fractions. And when looking at the size of this horse compared to the rest of the field in the Gun Runner, he was a clear standout.

  • Longshot — No. 6 Cyberknife (6-1): This is my longshot for the Lecomte.

He has been extremely consistent in his last three starts, finishing off the board only once in a 6.5-furlong sprint to a Steve Asmussen horse named Classic Moment, who went on to finish fourth in the Remington Park Springboard Mile.

In his last start, he finished a 1 1/16th miles in 1:44, which is the same final time Epicenter ran in the Gun Runner. Cyberknife has had consistently strong works leading up to this race, including a bullet work on Jan. 15 where he ran the best five-furlong time out of 41 horses.

There’s a lot of inside speed in this race, which will be extremely advantageous to this horse who likes to come from just off the pace.

Jeremy Pond

  • No. 5 Epicenter (2-1): My top pick. Trainer Steve Asmussen has never won a Kentucky Derby in his decorated career, but this could be the year he finally gets off the schneid with the son of Not This Time.

Epicenter is coming off a stellar win by almost seven lengths in a Fair Grounds stakes event, which doubled as a race that saw his speed figures improve from his prior outing. Jockey Joel Rosario, who’s arguably the top rider in the world if you take Irad Ortiz Jr. out of the conversation, gets back in the irons after he guided the Asmussen contender to his maiden-breaking score.

  • No. 3 Pappacap (9-5): The slight favorite has twice finished second to Derby Futures favorite Corniche, losing to the Bob Baffert charge in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and American Pharoah.

A son of 2017 Breeders’ Cup Classic and 2018 Pegasus World Cup winner Gun Runner, Pappacap has five career starts that are highlighted by last summer’s win in the Grade II Best Pal at Del Mar.

Trainer Mark Casse has a legit player in the Derby hunt, with the belief Pappacap might get better has he gets older since that’s exactly what happened in his daddy’s career. The lone graded-stakes winner in the field, Pappacap could take a big step forward with another victory. Major player.

  • Longshot — No. 4 Trafalgar (6-1): If you’re looking for a live play outside of the top two horses at a better price, look no further than the son of Lord Nelson. Trained by Al Stall Jr., Trafalgar enters the race off back-to-back wins following a second-place debut effort this past summer at Saratoga Race Course.

What’s key for me is the fact his last win came going around two turns, which many horses will be doing for the first time on the Derby trail. Stall’s charge also has versatile running style, with his victories coming from a deep-closing position to his most recent win happening after pressing the pace.

Getting Colby Hernandez, the Fair Grounds meet’s leading rider aboard, doesn’t hurt either. Potential upset winner.

Pond’s Best Bets:

$10 Win | Place | Show: No. 5 Epicenter (2-1)

$4 Exacta Box: 3-4-5-6

$1.50 Trifecta Box: 3-4-5-6-9

Exotic Wagering

(Races 13-14)

Biancone’s Daily Double — Louisiana Stakes | Lecomte Stakes:

2-3 | 2-3-4-5-6

Pond’s Daily Double — Louisiana Stakes | Lecomte Stakes:

2-3 | 3-4-5-6-9


Pond’s Horizontal Wagers

Late Pick 4 (Races 11 | 12 | 13 | 14) 

Wager: $0.50

Picks

Race 11: 1-4-5

Race 12: 2-5-6-7-8

Race 13: 2-3

Race 14: 3-4-5-6


Late Pick 5 (Races 10 | 11 | 12 | 13 | 14)

Wager: $0.50

Picks

Race 10: 1-5-8-10-11

Race 11: 1-4-5

Race 12: 2-5-6-7-8

Race 13: 2-3

Race 14: 3-4-5-6


Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby

DATE STAKES RACE (GRADE) TRACK (POINTS)
Jan. 22 Lecomte (Grade III) Fair Grounds (10-4-2-1)
Jan. 29 Southwest (III) Oaklawn Park (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 5 Holy Bull (III) Gulfstream Park (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 5 Robert B. Lewis (III) Santa Anita Park (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 5 Sam F. Davis (III) Tampa Bay Downs (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 12 Withers (III) Aqueduct (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 19 El Camino Real Derby Golden Gate Fields (10-4-2-1)
Feb. 19 Risen Star (III) Fair Grounds (50-20-10-5)
Feb. 26 Rebel (II) Oaklawn Park (50-20-10-5)
March 5 John Battaglia Memorial Turfway Park (10-4-2-1)
March 5 Fountain of Youth (II) Gulfstream Park (50-20-10-5)
March 5 San Felipe (II) Santa Anita Park (50-20-10-5)
March 12 Gotham (II) Aqueduct (50-20-10-5)
March 12 Tampa Bay Derby (II) Tampa Bay Downs (50-20-10-5)
March 26 UAE Derby Meydan Racecourse (100-40-20-10)
March 26 Louisiana Derby (II) Louisiana Downs (100-40-20-10)
March 27 Sunland Derby (III) Sunland Park (50-20-10-5)
April 2 Florida Derby (I) Gulfstream Park (100-40-20-10)
April 2 Arkansas Derby (I) Oaklawn Park (100-40-20-10)
April 2 Jeff Ruby Steaks (III) Turfway Park (100-40-20-10)
April 9 Wood Memorial (II) Aqueduct (100-40-20-10)
April 9 Blue Grass (II) Keeneland (100-40-20-10)
April 9 Santa Anita Derby (I) Santa Anita Park (100-40-20-10)
April 16 Lexington (III) Keeneland (100-40-20-10)

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