We don’t know the full field for the 2022 Kentucky Derby yet or even most of it, as there are several prep races on the docket in the coming weeks. However, the biggest horse race in the United States has already seen plenty of early betting action. Kentucky Derby futures betting recently closed on March 13, and it was the fourth round of early betting on The Run for the Roses. There will be one more early betting pool before the Kentucky Derby odds are posted in earnest, but here are some of the horses to keep an eye on in the next few weeks.
The 148th Kentucky Derby will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky on Saturday, May 7, 2022. Post time for the main event will be around 7 p.m. ET on NBC.
Who are the Favorites to Win the 2022 Kentucky Derby?
The field is the favorite to win the 2022 Kentucky Derby as only 23 horses were listed as part of the Pool 4 Kentucky Derby betting odds. This makes sense as there are still several prep races before we have The Run for the Roses, and there’s a good chance that the Kentucky Derby winner is something of an unknown at this point.
Smile Happy is the horse with the best odds on the board at 6-1. He will be taking part in the Kentucky Derby if healthy as he won the Grade 2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at Churchill Downs earlier this year. Smile Happy was the runner-up at the Grade 2 Risen Star Stakes last month, but some bettors are skeptical about his chances since he has yet to record an Equibase Speed Figure over 100.
The horse with the next best odds is Forbidden Kingdom. He has hit the board in all five of his races to date, and he won the Grade 2 San Vicente Stakes and Grade 2 San Felipe Stakes earlier this year with speed figures over 100. The question with Forbidden Kingdom is whether or not his speed will transfer from the West Coast as horses that have shined at Del Mar and Santa Anita sometimes struggle on different tracks.
Classic Causeway finished runner-up to Smile Happy at the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He showed a lot of promise as a two-year-old last year with a third-place finish at the Breeders’ Futurity, and he has been one of the best three-year-old horses so far in 2022. We saw Classic Causeway post E Speed Figures of 104 in winning the Grade 3 Sam F. Davis Stakes in February and the Grade 2 Tampa Bay Derby earlier this month.
It took Epicenter two tries to win his maiden race, but he has been one of the most impressive horses in the country over the last three months. Epicenter won the Gun Runner Stakes the day after Christmas, and the horse finished runner-up at the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes in January. He cruised to a win over Smile Happy and Zandon at the Risen Star Stakes last month, beating both horses by almost three lengths. That has caught the attention of horse racing bettors across the country and led to a serious shift in Epicenter’s Kentucky Derby betting odds.
Three other horses finished with odds of less than 20-1 to win the Kentucky Derby in the latest futures pool. Charge It and Morello closed at 17-1, while Simplification was 19-1 when betting came to a halt.
Charge It is a big mystery as the horse has only run in two maiden races. However, any time a horse posts a 103 speed figure in its second race, heads are going to turn.
Morello has three wins in his three races and claimed titles at the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes and the Grade 3 Gotham Stakes. He won the Gotham Stakes by 4 ½ lengths over Dean’s List, but we need to see how he fares against better competition.
Finally, there is Simplification. The horse made a name for itself by winning the Mucho Macho Man Stakes, and he claimed runner-up at the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes before winning the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes earlier this month. Simplification has only raced at Gulfstream Park and is considered one of the favorites at the Florida Derby.
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