2022 Kentucky Derby runner-by-runner guide: Horses, analysis, odds and best bet

On the Dirt
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Phil Agius

Horse Racing· 1 week ago

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I've been writing about the NFL and a host of other sports for the UK's top daily betting paper the Racing Post for more than 20 years. An incurable Browns fan (1-31 survivor), I also specialise in all kinds of motorsport betting including F1, MotoGP, IndyCar and NASCAR.

When is the 2022 Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7, at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky.

2022 Kentucky Derby Post Time

Post time for the 2022 Kentucky Derby is 6:57 pm ET.

Kentucky Derby Odds: Who is favorite to win the KY Derby in 2022?

Zandon is the current favorite to win the Kentucky Derby at 3/1, but not far behind in the betting is Epicenter at 7/2, with Messier at 8/1. Below is a list of each horse running in the Kentucky Derby and their odds.

Zandon 3/1
Epicenter 7/2
Messier 8/1
Mo Donegal 10/1
White Abarrio 10/1
Taiba 12/1
Smile Happy 20/1
Crown Pride 20/1
Charge It 20/1
Simplification 20/1
Cyberknife 20/1
Zozos 20/1
Happy Jack 30/1
Summer is Tomorrow 30/1
Tiz The Bomb 30/1
Pioneer Of Medina 30/1
Barber Road 30/1
Classic Causeway 30/1
Tawny Port 30/1
Ethereal Road 30/1

Get all the need-to-know info for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, including TV channel details and how to bet on it

Kentucky Derby 2022 Horses and Runner-by-Runner Guide

There are 20 horses declared to run in the Kentucky Derby and 2 reserves in case any of the horses do not run. Below is the name and number of each horse, as well as a quick guide to how they might perform.

1 Mo Donegal
Off-the-pace runner who scored a nose win over Zandon in the 1m1f Grade 2 Remsen at Aqueduct in December. Behind 2 of these rivals at Gulfstream in February, but improved when keeping on from last to win the 1m1f Grade 2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct latest, when he had gate 1. Will stay well, and the stronger the pace the better; loses jockey Joel Rosario to Epicenter but his trainer has won this twice.
2 Happy Jack
Off-the-pace runner. Was behind Taiba and Messier when a well-beaten 3rd in the 1m1f Santa Anita Derby. The blinkers have been removed for this race and his trainer has won this twice.
3 Epicenter
Races forwardly but doesn’t have to lead. His maiden win came here and he has won Grade 2s at Fair Grounds in his last two starts, the Risen Star (that form worked out exceptionally well) and most recently the 9.5f Louisiana Derby. He didn’t need a hard ride latest and crossed the line with his ears pricked, but did edge left in the stretch. A bit more is needed on his speed figures.
4 Summer is Tomorrow
UAE trained. He was a front-running second to Crown Pride in the 9.5f UAE Derby at Meydan in March. That was his first try around 2 turns, so he may improve, but it will be a surprise if he can beat these rivals.
5 Smile Happy
Off-the-pace runner. Won an 8.5f Grade 2 at this track in November. He was a keeping-on 2nd behind Epicenter in the 1m1f Risen Star at Fair Grounds on his reappearance, with Zandon 3rd. He didn’t see out his race in the 1m1f Blue Grass next time, taking over the lead at the top of the stretch but being unable to hold off Zandon. His run has to be timed just right, but he looks to have some more improvement in him.
6 Messier 
Messier might be the one they have to catch. He has a similar profile to Medina Spirit, who led gate-to-wire in this last year under John Velazquez for Bob Baffert. Like Medina Spirit, he made all in the 8.5f Grade 3 Robert B. Lewis at Santa Anita in February, when he was impressive, although the track played to his speed. He was off for 2 months before, again like Medina Spirit, he was denied the lead when only 2nd behind Taiba in the 1m1f Santa Anita Derby on his first start for Tim Yakteen.
7 Crown Pride
Japanese trained and likely to stalk the speed, he overcame a wide trip to reel in the front-running Summer Is Tomorrow in the 9.5f Group 2 UAE Derby at Meydan in March, but that didn’t look a particularly good race. He should stay well but will probably find others faster.
8 Charge It
Likely to stalk the speed. He has had only 3 starts, winning a Gulfstream maiden in the second before finishing runner-up there behind White Abarrio in the 1m1f Florida Derby. He might have won that had he not run green and hung left down the stretch. This is early in his development, but he has top-level potential and should stay well.
9 Tiz The Bomb
Off-the-pace runner. His maiden win came on dirt but in a race originally scheduled for turf. He was well beaten in a Grade 3 in February on his only subsequent dirt start. He has proved smart on AW/turf, including runner-up at last year’s Breeders’ Cup and a Grade 3 winner latest, but is unappealing back on dirt.
10 Zandon
Off-the-pace runner. He finished behind 2 of these rivals when only 3rd in the 1m1f Risen Star at Fair Grounds on his reappearance, but improved to win the 1m1f Grade 1 Blue Grass at Keeneland in April, staying on from last. The faster the pace the better for him.
11 Pioneer of Medina
He has been racing forwardly but is probably looking at a mid-pack trip this time, with blinkers off. This outsider was behind Epicenter and others at Fair Grounds on his last two starts.
12 Taiba
Likely to race in touch with the leaders. A $1.7m purchase as a 2yo, he has had only 2 starts, the fewest of any of these, winning both at Santa Anita, a 6f maiden in March (for Bob Baffert) and 1m1f Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby in April (for Tim Yakteen). He lacks experience and race conditioning, and is probably looking at more kickback than he’s faced so far or a wide trip, but he’s as talented as any of these and is likely to be suited by the extra furlong.
13 Simplification
Likely to race off the pace. He has done his racing at Gulfstream Park, with a staying-on 2nd to White Abarrio after a slow start in the 8.5f Holy Bull in February. He picked up well out wide to win the 8.5f Grade 2 Fountain of Youth next time, but most recently was only 3rd behind 2 of these rivals in the 1m1f Florida Derby. He pressed an overly fast pace, and the early leader Classic Causeway finished last. He needs to improve but could figure if his run can be timed well.
14 Barber Road
Off-the-pace runner. He could have been claimed for just $30,000 on his second start. He has won at this track, but at a low level. He is improving, and most recently was a staying-on second to Cyberknife in the 1m1f Arkansas Derby. He is likely to be suited by the longer trip but is probably not good enough to win.
15 White Abarrio
Will probably race in about mid-pack, maybe slightly further forward. He was 3rd behind 2 of these in an 8.5f Grade 2 at this track in November. He won both starts this year at Gulfstream Park, taking the Grade 2 Holy Bull despite a reported hold-up in his training, and most recently the 1m1f Grade 1 Florida Derby. However, he needs to improve plenty more on the speed figures.
16 Cyberknife
Will likely look to stalk the speed but is drawn wide. He was first past the post in a maiden at this track last year but was demoted for interference. He has been slow to mature mentally but is going the right way and most recently won the 1m1f Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn. Much more is needed on the clock, but he is open to more improvement. Has the same trainer as last year’s promoted winner.
17 Classic Causeway
Likes to race prominently but is drawn wide. He was 2nd to Smile Happy in 8.5f Grade 2 at this track last year and has 2 8.5f Graded wins from the front at Tampa this year, but the times were slow. He faded to last after going too fast in the 1m1f Florida Derby latest, and doesn’t look good enough.
18 Tawny Port
Off-the-pace runner with only 2 dirt starts, Made no show behind some of these in the 1m1f Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February. He stayed on to win the 8.5f Grade 3 Lexington at Keeneland latest, but way more is required.
19 Zozos
Likely to race in touch with the leaders but is drawn wide. He has had only 3 starts, with 2 minor wins before a front-running 2nd to Epicenter in the 9.5f Louisiana Derby at Fair Grounds. He is open to improvement but probably not good enough right now.
20 Ethereal Road
Off-the-pace runner. He was held in 3 Graded races including behind some of these rivals. His trainer has won this 4 times but not since 1999.
R21 Rich Strike
Reserve. Off-the-pace runner claimed for $30,000 after a 1m win at this track last year. Winless since, including on AW recently.
R22 Rattle N Roll
Reserve. Off-the-pace runner who won a maiden at this track and the 8.5f Grade 1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland last term, but struggled this year, most recently in blinkers (which are now off).

2022 Kentucky Derby Picks, Predictions & Best Bets

Epicenter and Zandon don’t appeal at the forecast odds. They ran 1st and 3rd in the Risen Star at Fair Grounds in February, but while that form has worked out really well, the time was ordinary. Epicenter then won the Louisiana Derby, but that was a weak race and he edged left in the closing stages. Zandon stayed on well to win the Blue Grass on his next start and there’s no knocking that performance, other than it’s not standout form and he’ll need a strong pace, with several others holding similar claims should the leaders overdo it.
MESSIER might be the controlling speed horse and has bundles of talent, so he may not come back to them. He was trained by Bob Baffert, who had the first past the post in this race in 3 of the last 4 years and each of those horses were ridden from the front, 2 of them by John Velazquez. Baffert is now suspended but nevertheless the feeling is Messier, under Velazquez, will be asked to use his speed like those other horses and he can be a serious force. It looks like he’ll have Summer Is Tomorrow as his main early-pace rival and he may clear him, but even if not he can control things to that one’s outside. Messier couldn’t hold off the same trainer’s Taiba (also ex-Baffert) when second in the Santa Anita Derby but he had contested a good pace with a highly talented speed runner who dropped out to finish last of six. Plus, Messier had been off for two months before then so may not have been fully revved up. This might end up a kinder pace set-up, he should be at peak readiness now and he’d earlier looked a star in waltzing home in a Grade 3 at Santa Anita. Taiba lacks experience but could be the main threat again.

Check out Jared Smith’s preview and best bets for the Kentucky Derby from a TwinSpires oddsmaker

All of our horse racing predictions and handicapping information at Pickswise come with full analysis, brought to you by industry leaders with decades of experience. Check out our latest Horse Racing Picks today!

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