California's Road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby gets underway with Friday's $300,000 American Pharoah S. (G1) at Santa Anita. The 1 1/16-mile prize awards Kentucky Derby qualification points to the top four finishers on a 10-4-2-1 basis, while the winner receives a fees-paid berth to compete in the Nov. 5 Breeders' Cup Juvenile (G1) at Del Mar.

Corniche
Total 1 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(99) when dominating his debut at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$42,000
Owner:
Speedway Stables
Breeder:
Bart Evans and Stonehaven Steadings
Trainer:
Bob Baffert
Jockey:
Mike Smith
Sire:
Quality Road
Dam:
Wasted Tears
Color:
Bay

Easily the fastest American Pharoah entrant from a Brisnet Speed rating perspective is Corniche. Purchased for $1.5 million earlier this year, the beautifully bred juvenile crushed his Sept. 4 debut at Del Mar, leading all the way to win by 4 1/4 lengths with a 99 Brisnet Speed rating. Stretching out from 5 1/2 furlongs to 1 1/16 miles is a question mark, but with Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith in the saddle, Corniche is a logical contender for victory. Keep in mind, trainer Bob Baffert has won the American Pharoah nine times since 1997.

Flying Drummer
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
0
Place:
2
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(84) when finishing second in his debut at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$28,000
Owner:
Michael L. Petersen
Breeder:
Eico Ventures
Trainer:
Bob Baffert
Jockey:
John Velazquez
Sire:
Gun Runner
Dam:
Salamera
Color:
Gray/roan

The second Bob Baffert trainee has yet to win a race, finishing second in his first two starts against maiden special weight company at Del Mar. But the son of hot sire Gun Runner boasts plenty of tactical speed and figures to secure a forward position under Hall of Fame jockey John Velazquez. Flying Drummer arguably went out too fast, too soon when beaten 4 1/4 lengths in a one-mile event on Aug. 27, and he's eligible to improve if he receives a more relaxed journey in the American Pharoah. 

Finneus
Total 4 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
2
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(90) when breaking his maiden at Santa Anita.
Total Earnings:
$146,116
Owner:
Naseer Mohammed Fasihuddin, Terry C. Lovingier, and Amanda Navarro
Breeder:
Terry C. Lovingier
Trainer:
Walther Solis
Jockey:
Tiago Pereira
Sire:
Stay Thirsty
Dam:
My Fiona
Color:
Dark bay/brown

The only American Pharoah entrant with a victory at Santa Anita under his belt, Finneus broke his maiden in a five-furlong sprint for California-breds over this track before stepping up into graded stakes company at Del Mar. The stretch-running colt finished second in both the Best Pal S. (G2) and Del Mar Futurity (G1) during, proving his worth against quality competition. He'll be at the mercy of the pace in the American Pharoah, but if a fast tempo unfolds, Finneus is bound to be gaining ground down the lane.

Oviatt Class
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
1
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when breaking his maiden at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$51,620
Owner:
Jim Downey
Breeder:
Godolphin and Morgan's Ford Farm
Trainer:
Keith Desormeaux
Jockey:
Kent Desormeaux
Sire:
Bernardini
Dam:
Occasionally
Color:
Bay

Fifth in his debut racing one mile on turf... third in his second start sprinting six furlongs on dirt... Oviatt Class didn't have the best of luck to start his career, but the son of Preakness S. (G1) winner Bernardini took a big step forward in his third run under colors. Tackling a one-mile maiden special weight at Del Mar, Oviatt Class rallied boldly from behind a fast pace to beat Flying Drummer by 4 1/4 lengths. With a similarly favorable setup in the American Pharoah, Oviatt Class can challenge for a top-three finish.

Joker Boy
Total 2 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when wiring the I'm Smokin S. at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$99,000
Owner:
Edward Rusty J. Brown, Alan P. Klein, and Phillip Lebherz
Breeder:
Premier Thoroughbreds
Trainer:
Brian Koriner
Jockey:
Edwin Maldonado
Sire:
Practical Joke
Dam:
Bandora
Color:
Bay

Two starts, two victories. Joker Boy has been sharp against fellow California-breds, rallying to win his debut sprinting 5 1/2 furlongs at Del Mar before dominating the six-furlong I'm Smokin S. in gate-to-wire fashion. Joker Boy is clearly versatile in terms of running style, but can he hold his own against Grade 1 company while stretching out significantly in distance? His pedigree appears geared toward speed more than stamina.

Rockefeller
Total 1 start(s)
Wins:
1
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when winning his debut at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$42,000
Owner:
SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert E. Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay A. Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital, Catherine Donovan, Golconda Stable, and Siena Farm
Breeder:
Colts Neck Stables
Trainer:
Bob Baffert
Jockey:
Flavien Prat
Sire:
Medaglia d'Oro
Dam:
Dance to Bristol
Color:
Bay

A beautifully bred son of elite sire Medaglia d'Oro out of the Grade 1-winning sprinter Dance to Bristol, Rockefeller sold for $750,000 as a yearling and enters the American Pharoah with high expectations. The Bob Baffert trainee wired his debut sprinting six furlongs at Del Mar on Aug. 28, seizing a five-length lead down the homestretch before cruising to the finish line on top by 2 1/4 lengths. If Rockefeller improves while stretching out in distance, he can challenge for victory under jockey Flavien Prat, who has gone 5-for-10 (50%) riding for Baffert over the last two months.

Pappacap
Total 3 start(s)
Wins:
2
Place:
0
Show:
0
Top Speed Rating:
(89) when winning the Best Pal S. (G2) at Del Mar.
Total Earnings:
$176,000
Owner:
Rustlewood Farm
Breeder:
Rustlewood Farm
Trainer:
Mark Casse
Jockey:
Joe Bravo
Sire:
Gun Runner
Dam:
Pappascat
Color:
Bay

Pappacap was as sharp as can be in his first two starts, wiring his debut at Gulfstream Park before employing pace-tracking tactics to crush Del Mar's six-furlong Best Pal S. (G2) by 4 3/4 lengths.  But the son of Gun Runner regressed when chasing a fast pace in the seven-furlong Del Mar Futurity (G1), weakening down the homestretch to finish fourth by 5 1/2 lengths. Pappacap will need a rebound to challenge in the American Pharoah, but can he bounce back while tackling an even longer distance?