Tipsheet: Kentucky Derby 2022

Profile Picture: John Mucciolo

May 7th, 2022

The field is set for the 148th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs on Saturday. Run at 1 1/4 miles on the dirt, the first leg of the Triple Crown attracted top three-year-olds from across the country, and abroad, in what promises to be a scintillating event beneath the Twin Spires.

You can check out the full Kentucky Derby Betting Guide Here! Have all the info you need for Derby week from authoritative handicappers whom provide tickets and top picks to watch in the paddock.

Kentucky Derby Wagers

  • $50 win and place #3 Epicenter
  • $15 exacta 3, 5 with 3, 5, 6, 10
  • 50-cent trifecta 3, 5 with 1, 3, 5, 6, 9, 10 with all

Kentucky Derby Contenders

#1 MO DONEGAL (10-1) ran a lifetime-best when rolling home an excellent winner of the Wood Memorial S. (G2) at Aqueduct last time out. The Uncle Mo colt has trained well in the interim, and the peaking Kentucky-bred will be a menacing figure late if he can negotiate a clean voyage from the rail on Saturday. Irad Ortiz will be in the controls.

#2 HAPPY JACK (30-1) was a distant third in both the Santa Anita Derby (G1) and San Felipe S. (G2) in his last pair for two-time Derby-winning conditioner Doug O’Neill. The Oxbow colt would be a huge surprise beneath Rafael Bejarano.

#3 EPICENTER (7-2) is a head shy from winning five straight for Asmussen. The classy son of Not This Time has improved in each of his 2022 assignments and is reportedly training well as of late. The speedy sort can win from on or off the pace, and I think that he is the one to beat in this tilt. The Winchell color bearer will retain the services of Joel Rosario.

#4 SUMMER IS TOMORROW (30-1) was a smart runner-up in the UAE Derby (G2) most recently in his first route attempt for Bhupat Seemar. The bay shows a decent half-mile spin on the local grounds in advance of his toughest test to date, and he will be paired with top pilot Mickael Barzalona for this difficult assignment.

#5 SMILE HAPPY (20-1) comes in a bit under the radar as a top win contender for Kenny McPeek. Bluegrass S. (G2) runner-up was a dominant winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2) at Churchill Downs at two, and he seems set for a huge performance on Saturday while making his third run of the season. Corey Lanerie will guide the son of Runhappy.

#6 MESSIER (8-1) has been first or second in each of his six lifetime tries to date while improving his Brisnet Speed number on each occasion. The Empire Maker colt has speed, is bred for the trip, and had a nice prep for the event when runner-up in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) most recently. John Velazquez riding the top sophomore only adds to his appeal.

#7 CROWN PRIDE (20-1) was a facile UAE Derby victor in his latest voyage and will hope to continue the worldwide surge of Japanese runners in his U.S. debut. The intriguing three-year-old has put in a quartet of local morning moves, led by a bullet half-mile spin on April 27, and I expect him to be fit for the 10-furlong test on May 7. Riding wiz Christophe Lemaire will be in the stirrups.

#8 CHARGE IT (20-1) is long on talent but short on experience for Todd Pletcher. The Tapit colt possesses a classic pedigree and has a lot of room for improvement, but he was green when second in the Florida Derby (G1) and might need a bit more seasoning before eclipsing a race of this magnitude. Luis Saez has the assignment.

#9 TIZ THE BOMB (30-1) owns a world of talent, and if he can translate it to the dirt, the McPeek pupil could challenge for a top-three result on Saturday. The impressive Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) winner has displayed a fine turn of foot on turf and synthetic, and he has worked well over this surface. Regular pilot Brian Hernandez, Jr. will be in the silks.

#10 ZANDON (3-1) is the morning-line choice off the strength of his dynamic Blue Grass S. (G2) triumph for Chad Brown. The dark bay son of Upstart has shown off his fine turn of foot in each of his four lifetime tries to date, and the $170,000 yearling purchase seems poised for another huge effort on Saturday for a barn that is due for success in the race. Flavien Prat will be in the stirrups.

#11 PIONEER OF MEDINA (30-1) takes the blinkers off for Pletcher and has some exotics appeal for sure. Consistent sort has shown improvement in each 2022 endeavor, and if he takes to the course, then the bay colt could be a stubborn foe late at a big price. Joe Bravo will take the reins. 

#12 TAIBA (12-1) turned heads with a sensational score in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) coming off of just a six-furlong win. The Tim Yakteen pupil is obviously incredibly talented, and he earned a 109 Brisnet Late Pace number at nine furlongs, so negotiating 1 1/4 miles seems well within his scope. Mike Smith will ride the history-seeking chestnut. 

#13 SIMPLIFICATION (20-1) bagged the Fountain of Youth S. (G2) two back prior to a third-place result in the Florida Derby (G1) for Antonio Sano. The consistently very good Florida-bred continues to train in outstanding fashion, but the 1 1/4 miles could be a real test for him, in my opinion. Jose Ortiz riding is a major positive.

#14 BARBER ROAD (30-1) has been in the money in seven straight since adding blinkers and is experienced at passing horses. The John Ortiz trainee will be difficult to back for the top spot, but he always fires and could surely grab a share late with Reylu Gutierrez up.

#15 WHITE ABARRIO (10-1) was the top horse in the Sunshine State in the spring and will hope to carry that form to Louisville for Joseph. The Race Day gray has speed with a nice turn of foot, but he has endured dream voyages in two straight, and the colt might have to overcome adversity in the 20-horse field. Tyler Gaffalione keeps the ride.

#16 CYBERKNIFE (20-1) is blossoming at the right time of the year for trainer Brad Cox. The Arkansas Derby (G1) victor is training like a runner with another forward move in him and he could be dangerous if he does take another step in the right direction. The Gun Runner chestnut will be stalking the pace while in the clear under Florent Geroux.

#17 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY (30-1) lost a lot of luster when stopping early in the Florida Derby (G1) last time out, but he will surely improve off an effort that was too poor to take seriously. The Brian Lynch pupil has big gate presence and will be forwardly placed from the break under Julien Leparoux.

#18 TAWNY PORT (30-1) has appeal to me as an exotics piece at a huge price for Brad Cox. The Pioneerof the Nile colt looked the part in his Lexington S. (G3) triumph, and his pedigree suggests that he will thrive on the stretch out in distance. I will be including the Kentucky-bred at huge odds.

#19 ZOZOS (20-1) is the third of the Cox trio and exits a strong runner-up effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2). The dark bay son of Munnings is improving rapidly, and he could be in the hunt for a top-four placing late if he gets a sensible trip from this post in the Derby. Manny Franco inherits what could be a live mount.

#20 ETHEREAL ROAD (30-1) gets parked widest of all and simply hasn’t run fast enough to be considered as a major player in the field. The D. Wayne Lukas charge looks overmatched in this spot.

#21 RICH STRIKE (30-1) shows just a single score in the maiden claiming ranks, and most others seem much more likely.

#22 RATTLE N ROLL (30-1) romped in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) at two, but the McPeek trainee has yet to build upon that effort to this point of his sophomore season. The Connect colt would be a major shocker if he draws into the field.

Learn about all of the Kentucky Derby Contenders and the lead up to the Fastest Two Minutes in Sports here on