Odds, post positions and analysis for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

Zandon is favored on the morning line at the 148th Kentucky Derby. (Charlie Riedel/AP)
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This year’s Kentucky Derby features a deep field with no true favorite. Sure, Zandon is listed at 3-1 on the morning line and could be bet down further if furniture mogul Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale uses the horse to hedge his promotional gimmick to customers — McIngvale bet $2.4 million to win on Essential Quality in the Kentucky Derby in a similar ploy last year, cementing him as the post-time favorite — but there are a few other horses certain to get their fair share of the win pool.

Steve Asmussen’s colt Epicenter might have been the morning line favorite if he didn’t draw an inside post, which will cause him to run out front earlier than usual. Still, he is a close second choice at 7-2 on the morning line.

With two horses so close in odds, McIngvale has yet to decide which he will wager on, a sum he anticipates will be between $2.5 million and $3 million. (His customers get a refund if the Derby favorite wins, so the bet protects him from a huge loss.)

“It’ll be interesting to see on Saturday afternoon, about two or three hours before the race, where they’re at,” McIngvale told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. “If one comes out as the clear-cut favorite, I’ll bet on him. If not, I might have to bet a little bit on both of them.

“If they look like they’re going to be very close at the end, I’m sure by a minute or two before post, I can make a big bet and influence who the favorite is. I moved it last year, so we’ll see.”

There is also the possibly of rain in the forecast, beginning as early as Thursday night and continuing through much of Friday and possibly Saturday. A muddy track would add a further wild card and should be considered when building trifectas and superfectas.

In any case, other contenders sure to see money plunked down on them at the betting window will be trained by Louisville native Brad Cox, whose colt Mandaloun was elevated to first place following Medina Spirit’s disqualification in last year’s Run for the Roses. Cox entered Cyberknife (winner of the Grade I Arkansas Derby), Tawny Port (winner of the Grade III Lexington Stakes) and Zozos (second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby) in this year’s field.

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Cyberknife is also one of two colts in the field sired by Gun Runner, who finished third in the 2016 Kentucky Derby and went on to win six Grade I stakes races before retiring to stud. His other progeny, Taiba (winner of the Grade I Santa Anita Derby), also should be popular.

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher also has three colts in the race: Grade II Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal, Grade I Florida Derby runner-up Charge It and Pioneer of Medina, who drew into the field after the late defection of Early Voting.

One trainer who will be noticeably absent is Bob Baffert, six-time winner of the Kentucky Derby. He is serving a 90-day suspension from all Kentucky racing facilities and won’t be involved in this year’s first two legs of the Triple Crown. As a result, Taiba and Messier were switched to trainer Tim Yakteen to be eligible for this race.

Post Time: Saturday, 6:57 p.m. Eastern, NBC.

1

Mo Donegal (10-1)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

This son of Uncle Mo has three wins in five starts, including the Grade II Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, and boasts a pedigree well suited for the classic distance. Uncle Mo’s progeny have won Grade I stakes races at 1 1/16 miles or farther on dirt, and the bottom half of Mo Donegal’s pedigree lists Pulpit, a proven source of stamina.

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The only concern is his running style and post position. Mo Donegal prefers to come charging late, and this gate will force the horse to go out front early to avoid traffic.

2

Happy Jack (30-1)

Trainer: Doug O'Neill

Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

O’Neill has stepped into the Kentucky Derby’s winner circle with I’ll Have Another (2012) and Nyquist (2016), but Happy Jack probably won’t help him make it there for a third time. The son of Oxbow — who won the Preakness Stakes and finished second in the Belmont Stakes in 2013 — hasn’t won since he broke his maiden at Santa Anita in January. He hasn’t finished better than third in his other three races against similar competition, either.

3

Epicenter (7-2)

Trainer: Steve Asmussen

Jockey: Joel Rosario

A narrow defeat in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes, his first race as a 3-year-old, was all but forgotten after he won his next two races, the Grade II Risen Star wire-to-wire and an off-the-pace victory in the Louisiana Derby. He is one of three colts in the field who has earned both a Beyer and a Brisnet speed figure of 100 or more.

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4

Summer Is Tomorrow (30-1)

Trainer: Bhupat Seemar

Jockey: Mickael Barzalona

Summer Is Tomorrow is shipping in from Dubai after finishing second in the Grade II UAE Derby. It’s a tough spot for the Kentucky-bred colt whose only other wins are under maiden and allowance conditions.

5

Smile Happy (20-1)

Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Jockey: Corey Lanerie

He couldn’t get it done as the favorite in his past two races — he finished second in the Grade II Risen Star and the Grade II Blue Grass — but his off-the-pace style could pay dividends in this year’s Run for the Roses.

6

Messier (8-1)

Trainer: Tim Yakteen

Jockey: John Velazquez

This son of Empire Maker has never finished worse than second in his six career starts, which include four graded stakes races, and his 103 Beyer speed figure is tied with Taiba for the highest in the field. He’s a strong pick to win the race.

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7

Crown Pride (20-1)

Trainer: Koichi Shintani

Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

The Japanese-bred winner of the UAE Derby faces a tough task. Since 2000, 16 UAE Derby winners have run in the Kentucky Derby, and none have hit the board. Master of Hounds provided the best finish by a UAE Derby alum, finishing fifth in 2011.

8

Charge It (20-1)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Luis Saez

Charge It, a son of Tapit, had a heck of a time in the Grade I Florida Derby. He hit the starting gate, angled out four-wide near the quarter pole, then drifted out toward the rail twice only to be angled the other way both times. Still, he managed to finish second, a testament to him and his jockey.

9

Tiz the Bomb (30-1)

Trainer: Kenny McPeek

Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Tiz the Bomb won the Grade III Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park by 2¼ lengths over stablemate Tawny Port (11th in Derby points), giving him wins on three surfaces, having won twice on turf and once on dirt earlier in his career. His trainer is 0 for 6 in the Kentucky Derby.

10

Zandon (3-1)

Trainer: Chad Brown

Jockey: Flavien Prat

A come-from-behind victory in the Grade I Blue Grass Stakes was his first win in three tries since he broke his maiden at Belmont Park in October, but those other losses aren’t anything to be embarrassed about. Brown’s colt lost by a nose to Mo Donegal in the Grade II Remsen Stakes and finished third behind Epicenter and Smile Happy in the Risen Star.

11

Pioneer of Medina (30-1)

Trainer: Todd Pletcher

Jockey: Joe Bravo

Pletcher’s colt finished fourth in the Grade II Risen Star Stakes and third in the Grade II Louisiana Derby to qualify for Saturday’s race, but his only victory vs. winners is against a low-level collection of optional claiming horses in January. He certainly has stepped up since then, but it doesn’t appear to be enough against this field. Rain or mud could help.

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12

Taiba (12-1)

Trainer: Tim Yakteen

Jockey: Mike Smith

This son of Gun Runner is breaking all the rules. After winning his debut by 7½ lengths, he took first in the Grade I Santa Anita Derby in a stunning performance, beating stablemate Messier while earning a triple-digit Beyer speed figure (102). Now he is trying to become the first horse to win the Kentucky Derby in his third career start without having raced as a 2-year-old.

13

Simplification (20-1)

Trainer: Antonio Sano

Jockey: Jose Ortiz

A win in the Grade II Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream Park in March punched his ticket for the Kentucky Derby, and he held on for a game third in the Grade I Florida Derby at that same track in April. He’s also trying to become the first Florida-bred horse to win the Kentucky Derby since Silver Charm in 1997.

14

Barber Road (30-1)

Trainer: John Ortiz

Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Barber Road is the most seasoned horse in the field with eight starts, but he hasn’t won since November. He has, however, finished second four times in his past five starts (and third in the other). Perhaps his experience can make up for a lack of the same in his connections. Ortiz, Gutierrez and owner Bill Simon are making their Kentucky Derby debuts.

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15

White Abarrio (10-1)

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.

Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

White Abarrio has barely a blemish on his record. The roan colt won his first two starts before ending his 2-year-old campaign at Churchill Downs with a third-place finish in the Grade II Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. He’s back on the winning track as a 3-year-old, winning the Grade III Holy Bull Stakes and the Grade I Florida Derby in his only starts this year.

16

Cyberknife (20-1)

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Florent Geroux

Cox’s 3-year-old career got off to a shaky start with a sixth-place finish in the Grade III Lecomte Stakes. It took a win in the optional claiming ranks to get his confidence back before he stormed the field in the Grade I Arkansas Derby by 2¾ lengths.

17

Classic Causeway (30-1)

Trainer: Brian Lynch

Jockey: Julien Leparoux

A disappointing 11th-place finish in the Grade I Florida Derby prompted speculation that this son of Giant’s Causeway would skip the first leg of the Triple Crown, but a late change of heart by his owners got him to the starting gate. His breeding suggests the distance of 1¼ miles should be no problem.

18

Tawny Port (30-1)

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr.

Tawny Port earned 40 Derby points after finishing second in the Grade III Jeff Ruby Stakes and made sure he had enough with a win in the last-chance Lexington Stakes at Keeneland a few weeks later. The pedigree isn’t an issue, and there is enough inherited speed and stamina to last the entire 10 furlongs, but you have to wonder whether he is good enough to beat this collection of horses. He ran fifth to Epicenter in his return to dirt in the Risen Star Stakes — where three other horses who finished in front of him also made the Derby field — and ran second to Tiz the Bomb in the Jeff Ruby Steaks.

19

Zozos (20-1)

Trainer: Brad Cox

Jockey: Manny Franco

One of three colts for Cox in this race, this son of Munnings (who won the Woody Stephens Stakes as a 3-year-old against older horses) didn’t start his racing career until this year but won his first two starts before he finished second in the Grade II Louisiana Derby.

20

Ethereal Road (30-1)

Scratched.

21

Rich Strike (30-1)

Trainer: Eric Reed

Jockey: Sonny Leon

The only win for this horse was in a maiden claimer, the lowest class of race, at Churchill Downs last year. Since then, he has finished no better than third in five races. Three of those races were also on an all-weather surface, not dirt like Saturday’s race.

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