2022 Kentucky Derby Race Preview, Top Picks and Longshots

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John Velazquez, riding Elite Squadron #1. (Photo by Jamie Squire / Getty Images North America / Getty Images via AFP)

On Monday, the full field and post positions were drawn for this year’s Run For The Roses this Saturday. Here is a look at the post positions, jockeys, and betting odds.

  1. Mo Donegal, I. Ortiz, 10-1
  2. Happy Jack, R. Bejarano, 30-1
  3. Epicenter, J. Rosario, 7-2
  4. Summer Is Tomorrow, M. Barzalona, 30-1
  5. Smile Happy, C. Lanerie, 20-1
  6. Messier, J. Velazquez, 8-1
  7. Crown Pride, C. Lemaire, 20-1
  8. Charge It, L. Saez, 20-1
  9. Tiz the Bomb, B. Hernandez, 30-1
  10. Zandon, F. Prat, 3-1
  11. Pioneer of Medina, J. Bravo, 30-1
  12. Taiba, M. Smith, 12-1
  13. Simplification, J. Ortiz, 20-1
  14. Barber Road, R. Gutierrez, 30-1
  15. White Abarrio, T. Gaffalione, 10-1
  16. Cyberknife, F. Geroux, 20-1
  17. Classic Causeway, J. Leparoux, 30-1
  18. Tawny Port, R. Santana, 30-1
  19. Zozos, M. Franco, 20-1
  20. Ethereal Road, L. Contreras, 30-1

What To Watch for in This Race?

From a wagering perspective, favored Zandon is nicely positioned in the middle of the track and jockey Flavien Prat would have options to go inside or outside depending on how everyone charges into the first turn.

Trainer Kenny McPeek is smiling like Smile Happy, who despite the betting odds, is in the No. 5 slot and that spot has produced the most winners (10) and is tied for the most seconds (8). From 2012-19, the #5 horse had a Top 5 finish in each race.

Epicenter has the second-best odds at top-rated sportsbooks and will look to use some early speed to not get caught on the rail before the far turn. Maybe this is the year, but the two early favorites Zandon and Epicenter are trained by outstanding trainers Chad Brown and Steve Rasmussen, who are a combined 0-30 (0-15 each), in attempts to reach the winner’s circle in The Derby.

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Messier is the only other horse with single-digit odds that drew the six-hole. This seems to be a horse you like or dislike off his disappointing second at the Santa Anita Derby. Messier’s stablemate is lightly raced Taiba, who roared down the stretch to the S.A. Derby. Both are trained by Tim Yakteen, who got the horses in a transfer after their original trainer Bob Baffert was suspended.

Two different horses with the same odds have a completely different feel for those picking the ponies. No. 15 White Abarrio is in a post position that has generated 10 percent of the winners in the last 60 Derbies, including Orb (2013), Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015), and Authentic (2020).

Riding the rail has been the kiss of death and like White Abarrio, Mo Donegal opened at 10-1. The last Derby winner from the No. 1 position was 35 years ago with Ferdinand.

Top Picks and Possible Longshots the Kentucky Derby

In trying to determine the winner of the first leg of the Triple Crown, it seems foolish not to have favorites Zandon and Epicenter on the betting card, as they appear the strongest choices. But both will need the right trip around two turns and not get boxed in. However, this doesn’t feel like a two-horse race by any means and with 20 entries, a lot can happen.

White Abarrio drew a favorable gate position and jockey Tyler Gaffalione will try to sit just off the leaders in the turn for the home stretch with his mid-priced horse, looking to find a lane and let his horse gallop with his stalking style, where he has shown an extra gear.

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Smile Happy got a great draw and with a good start, where he can avoid the early bumping closer to the rail. If he gets into a comfortable stride and does not expend too much energy, that could leave enough in the tank for a special ride. Finished 2nd to Zandon in the Blue Grass Stakes.

Charge It is seemingly the most attractive among the longshots. He was a deserving 2nd at the Florida Derby and learned some valuable lessons that day as the horse and for jockey Luis Saez about track placement. The talent is in place, it’s just about the maturity.  

Horse Pick:

  • #10 Zandon to Win
  • #15 White Abarrio to Win
  • #3 Epicenter to Win

Long Shots:

  • #8 Charge It
  • #5 Smile Happy

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.