Zandon

Kentucky Derby hopeful Zandon gallops on the track at Churchill Downs. Zandon is trained by Chad Brown. April 26, 2022.

Syndication The Courier Journal

  • The Kentucky Derby will take place just before 7:00 pm EST Saturday at Churchill Downs
  • While handicapping can get complicated, what have the top contenders done for us recently?
  • What Kentucky Derby favorites today are in the best form entering the starting gate?

This is the time of year that every prognosticator has his or her Kentucky Derby betting trends for you to follow. Sometimes it just comes down to the horses and how they are running right now.

We’ve been talking about the Derby field from the start of the year to the end of the prep races. Our Kentucky Derby odds tracker is constantly gauging how opinions are shifting. That said, are we complicating things? What have the top contenders done leading up to Saturday? Who has run the fastest?

2022 Kentucky Derby Odds

Horse Odds
Zandon +300
Epicenter +350
Messier +800
White Abarrio +1000
Mo Donegal +1000
Taiba +1200
Smile Happy +2000
Charge It +2000
Cyberknife +2000
Simplification +2000
Zozos +2000
Crown Pride +2000
Tawny Port +3000
Tiz The Bomb +3000
Pioneer Of Medina +3000
Classic Causeway +3000
Barber Road +3000
Summer Is Tomorrow +3000
Happy Jack +3000
Ethereal Road +3000

Odds taken May 2 at TVG

Sometimes we make handicapping a lot more difficult than it actually is. Horse Racing 101 tells us to pick the fastest equine. The best way to do that is to examine the Kentucky Derby contenders’ past performances. Who has run the best against the hardest competition?

Epicenter

It is pretty typical for the top Kentucky Derby contenders to run once or twice as a two-year-old, take a break, and run a couple or few times before the Run for the Roses. Epicenter never took time off.

He was neither bet much nor ran well debuting in September, broke his maiden in November, earned a stakes victory in December, and then was the runner up in a graded stakes event in January. In February he won the Risen Star Stakes, and in late March he took the Louisiana Derby.

At a-mile-and-three-eighths, the Louisiana Derby is the longest Run for the Roses prep race, just an eighth-of-a-mile short of the Derby distance. For five straight races Epicenter has been very consistent. His only loss came when he got passed in the final stride and missed by a neck in the Lecomte Stakes to Call Me Midnight.

Taiba

A lot of trends go against Taiba. It has been nearly impossible for lightly raced horses that didn’t run at the age of two to win the Kentucky Derby. He might just be a freak.

Taiba’s Santa Anita Derby victory came in just his second race. He walloped maidens in March. Both races were run in very fast times. The data set is incomplete, but what we’ve seen is strong.

Zandon

The first three races of Zandon’s career were good. He won his debut in October, just missed against Mo Donegal in December, and then took a break. Zandon’s first race in three months was a third place performance against Epicenter and Smile Happy in February’s Risen Star Stakes. It sure looked like he took a leap forward in last month’s Blue Grass Stakes.

To finish with that type of authority, after the race didn’t have a hot pace, and experiencing traffic issues is pretty impressive.

Mo Donegal

It took the son of Uncle Mo twice to break his maiden, and then he beat Zandon in a tight, highly entertaining edition of the Remsen Stakes. Two months later he made his three-year-old debut and supposably did not like the track at Gulfstream Park, finishing third to White Abarrio and Simplifciation in the Holy Bull stakes. Back in New York, his win in the Wood Memorial was breathtaking.

His stretch run in the Wood was the fastest of any horse in any primary Derby prep this year. That said, it has been more than 20 years since the Derby winner came out of the Wood Memorial.

White Abarrio

He is five for six in his career, with back-to-back wins in top-tier Kentucky Derby prep races at Gulfstream Park.

He’s sort of blue-collar. White Abarrio has only been the favorite once, may not want more distance, hasn’t put up incredible times, but keeps on winning.

Messier

The final horse we listed in this article last year was the first to cross the finish line. Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit had won twice in five races and was coming off a second place performance in the Santa Anita Derby.

Messier ran well, getting hooked on a fast pace in the Santa Anita Derby, and not losing to Taiba by all that much. Both horses were trained by Baffert, who is currently suspended. They are now conditioned by former Baffert assistant Tim Yakteen.

Messier sure looked good in the Robert B Lewis Stakes.

He has three wins and three seconds in six career races. Baffert has been the dominating force in Triple Crown racing this century.

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