Kentucky Derby Expert Predictions for the 2022 Edition
The 2022 Kentucky Derby is going to be the 148th running of this famous horse race. Known as the most exciting two minutes in sport, it will take place on May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville.
So, which horses are in with a chance of winning the coveted prize in this popular event?
Epicenter Leads the Way
It’s easy to see why this horse is clear in the latest odds at the time of writing. The Steve Asmussen-trained Epicenter is in the number one spot in the Road to the Kentucky Derby standing, having picked up 164 points and $940,000 in prize money to date.
He has won the Risen Stakes and the Louisiana Derby and has already tasted victory at Churchill Downs recently. Bettors were especially impressed when jockey Joel Rosario led Epicenter to victory over Zozos in the Louisiana Derby by coming from behind, showing another facet of his skills that could be vital when the Derby comes around.
Messier Had a Late Start
Close behind Epicenter in the latest odds, Messier missed the first few races on the road to Churchill Downs, as he was linked to banned trainer Bob Baffert. However, the horse was recently transferred to Baffert’s former assistant, Tim Yakteen to train. This freed him up to try and earn a place in the Derby.
The late start to his attempt to reach the big race means that Messier is under pressure to perform well in the upcoming Santa Anita Derby and start collecting those valuable points. He’s looked good in the build-up and a lot of people will be keeping a close eye on how well he performs in California.
Forbidden Kingdom Has 50 Points on the Board
With just 50 points to date, Forbidden Kingdom is down in 11th place in the Road to the Kentucky Standings. However, this situation isn’t expected to last for long. This horse comes from a strong racing background, as he is the son of the famous American Pharaoh, who won the American Triple Crown in 2015.
Forbidden Kingdom is trained by the successful Richard Mandella and gained first place in the San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita Park in March. This race is a preparation for the Santa Anita Stakes but is also viewed as being crucial in the build-up to the Kentucky Derby. The 50 points earned by Forbidden Kingdom in winning this event virtually assure his presence in the big race in May.
Smile Happy Is Improving Just in Time
Another contender with relatively few points so far, Smile Happy is widely tipped to be among those fighting it out at the Churchill Downs finishing line. He came home second in the Risen Star Stakes after a long time off, and has been improving since then despite only having picked up 30 points on the Road to the Kentucky Derby.
The upcoming Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland will give us a clearer indication of how Smile Happy’s preparations are coming along. He is trained by Kenny McPeek, who will be hoping to win his first Kentucky Derby this year.
Cyberknife Won the Arkansas Derby
A strong victory in the Arkansas Derby saw Cyberknife jump up among the favorites for the Derby, and move to third place in the ranking with 100 points. This came after a few mixed performances at the start of the year and also gave owner Al Gold his first success at Grade 1 level, having bought this horse for $400,00.
Brad Cox is Cyberknife’s trainer and he famously won the Kentucky Derby in 2021 following the controversial disqualification of Medina Spirit. He’s run at Churchill Downs before and came home in second place on both occasions, as a two-year-old. Right now, Cyberknife has to be considered among the favorites for the Kentucky Derby this year.
White Abarrio Is Almost Guaranteed His Place in the Race
This horse has surged up the list of favorites after winning the Holy Bull Stakes and then the Florida Derby. He’s already picked up wins in all four of his races at Gulfstream, while his only race at Churchill Downs so far ended in a third place finish late last year.
Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr moved here from Barbados and will feel that the success of White Abarrio helps to vindicate that decision. His horse is now in second place in the Road to the Kentucky Derby table, with his 112 points almost certainly guaranteeing that he’ll be in the final field on May 7 this year.
With some qualifying races still to come, there’s time for classy horses like Tiz the Bomb, Classic Causeway, and Zozos to impress. However, as we edge closer to the date of the big race it seems that the horses listed above are currently those that have the best chance of winning this prestigious trophy.