Are you ready for a wide-open Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7? This year’s Kentucky Derby has three horses listed at single-digit odds on the morning line, but more than half the field can make a realistic case for winning this race. Zandon is listed as the morning-line favorite at odds of 3-1, with Epicenter a close second choice at 7-2. Zandon is coming off a win in the Blue Grass Stakes last month and trainer Chad Brown is very pleased how Zandon is coming into this race. “He had a fabulous work Friday, and he’s been so impressive just galloping these two weeks here,” Brown said to the media, “Everyone’s on it.” A full field of 20 horses will go to the post on Saturday at 6:57 p.m. Eastern Time on NBC. Zandon is the morning line favorite, but it could be that Epicenter goes off as the post-time favorite. Let’s look at the Kentucky Derby field and Kentucky Derby picks.
2022 Kentucky Derby Field
(Post Position, Horse, Trainer, Jockey, Morning Line Odds)
1. Mo Donegal, Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr., 10-1
2. Happy Jack, Doug O’Neill, Rafael Bejarano, 30-1
3. Epicenter, Steve Asmussen, Joel Rosario, 7-2
4. Summer Is Tomorrow, Bhupat Seemar, Mickael Barzalona, 30-1
5. Smile Happy, Kenny McPeek, Corey Lanerie, 20-1
6. Messier, Tim Yakteen, John Velazquez, 8-1
7. Crown Pride, Koichi Shintani, Christophe Lemaire, 20-1
8. Charge It, Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez, 20-1
9. Tiz the Bomb, Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr., 30-1
10. Zandon, Chad Brown, Flavien Prat, 3-1
11. Pioneer of Medina, Todd Pletcher, Joe Bravo, 30-1
12. Taiba, Tim Yakteen, Mike Smith, 12-1
13. Simplification, Antonio Sano, Jose Ortiz, 20-1
14. Barber Road, John Ortiz, Reylu Gutierrez, 30-1
15. White Abarrio, Saffie Joseph Jr., Tyler Gaffalione, 10-1
16. Cyberknife, Brad Cox, Florent Geroux, 20-1
17. Classic Causeway, Brian Lynch, Julien Leparoux, 30-1
18. Tawny Port, Brad Cox, Ricardo Santana Jr., 30-1
19. Zozos, Brad Cox, Manny Franco, 20-1
20. Ethereal Road, D. Wayne Lukas, Luis Contreras, 30-1
There is little doubt that the top two horses in this race in terms of the odds are Zandon and Epicenter. While these two horses are the best in terms of the betting odds, neither is considered a super horse or a true Triple Crown contender. Zandon did win the Blue Grass Stakes, but he should not be listed at odds of 3-1. The horse is good, but he is not great. Epicenter is a better horse than Zandon, but some people are worried about his inside post in the Derby. He checks all the boxes and has already won at Churchill Downs. He also has a win already over Zandon. It would be a major surprise to me if Epicenter doesn’t go off as the post-time Kentucky Derby betting favorite.
You can throw another ten horses into the realistic contender category. Messier is listed as the third choice in the betting odds and wouldn’t it be interesting if the horse won this race considering he was trained by Bob Baffert and then transferred to Tim Yakteen. He is ridden by John Velazquez and we know how good of a jockey he is. You also have to give Taiba a strong look, as he is trained by Yakteen and ridden by Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith.
Mo Donegal is trained by Todd Pletcher so he deserves respect, but the horse starts on the rail and for that fact alone you might have to throw him out. Smile Happy, Crown Pride, Charge It, Simplification, Cyberknife and Zozos are all listed at odds of 20-1 are not without a chance.
There are eight horses listed with odds of 30-1 on the morning line. Most of these horses have no real chance, but the Kentucky Derby has 20 horses and strange things can happen. Big name trainers Todd Pletcher and D. Wayne Lukas both have horses at big odds in Pioneer of Medina and Ethereal Road.
Kentucky Derby Picks
This year’s Kentucky Derby field overall is weak. There, I said it. Epicenter is a good horse, but he is not a superstar. That being said, he is the best horse in this race. Asmussen is overdue to win the Kentucky Derby and I expect he will get the win with Epicenter. Asmussen said post position No. 3 will not be a problem. “Joel’s very confident in the rhythm of the horse,” Asmussen said to the media, “If he’s away cleanly, Joel will let him be who he is and I think he’ll stay on beautifully. … I’ve always said about post positions: ‘You don’t know to complain about them until after the race is run.’”
If Epicenter is to get beat, I think it will take a big effort and two horses that could be primed to run big are Messier and Charge It. Messier has shown he can run with the best horses in the world and Charge It is a horse that could improve off the Florida Derby.
I’ll make win bets on Epicenter, Messier and Charge It and also play exacta and trifecta boxes featuring those three horses.
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