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Expert Picks: Who Will Win the 2022 Kentucky Derby

Ben Rasa

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The first Saturday in May means horse racing takes center stage in the sports world. The 148th Kentucky Derby is set to run from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. As usual, there are 20 horses vying to take down the first leg of the Triple Crown and plenty to breakdown from a betting standpoint. There are factors like the weather that are not controllable, but there are some undervalued horses in the field. Let’s dive into a full preview of Saturday’s KY Derby, including all of the horses, post times, the top horse betting odds and overall 2022 Kentucky Derby picks and predictions.

2022 Kentucky Derby Betting Picks & Predictions

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What Time is the Kentucky Derby?

Post Time: 6:57 p.m. ET Saturday, May 7, at Churchill Downs

The Field

  1. Mo Donegal, 10-1
  2. Happy Jack, 30-1
  3. Epicenter, 7-2
  4. Summer Is Tomorrow, 30-1
  5. Smile Happy, 20-1
  6. Messier, 8-1
  7. Crown Pride, 20-1
  8. Charge It, 20-1
  9. Tiz the Bomb, 30-1
  10. Zandon, 3-1
  11. Pioneer of Medina, 30-1
  12. Taiba, 10-1
  13. Simplification, 20-1
  14. Barber Road, 30-1
  15. White Abarrio, 10-1
  16. Cyberknife, 20-1
  17. Classic Causeway, 30-1
  18. Tawny Port, 30-1
  19. Zozos, 20-1
  20. Ethereal Road, 30-1

The 20-horse field makes handicapping this incredibly difficult. On the positive side, this many horses means massive payouts on the winner and possibly a few other horses that are going to be a threat. The odds above will change as more money piles in leading up to post time, so keep that in mind before making any Kentucky Derby betting picks.

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Top Horses to Win 2022 Kentucky Derby

Zandon (3-1) — He could go off the favorite at post time, so clearly Zandon is a horse worth considering. With Chad Brown as trainer and Flavien Prat aboard this horse, Zandon checks a lot of the boxes for a Derby selection. He won the Blue Grass Stakes in impressive fashion, so this is a dangerous horse who likes to come from the back of the pack and close late. However, if it rains, there will be a lot of mud and horses to navigate through, which is the big concern.

Epicenter 7-2 — Another potential post time favorite, Epicenter has an impressive resume and quality connections. Steve Asmussen trained him, and he has a top-end jockey in Joel Rosario. This horse has four wins in six starts, including the Louisiana Derby his last time out. Epicenter is a consistent performer who should be closer to the pace than Zandon.

Messier 8-1 — Messier is a Canadian horse and had Tim Yakteen training, who took over after Bob Baffert was suspended, so that’s another unknown to factor in. In six career starts this horse has never finished worse than second, so clearly for exotics he belongs in the mix. He has done his racing out in California and now ships into Churchill for the first time, and it’s a guess how he will like this track.

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Horses with Longshot Odds to Win KY Derby

Taiba 10-1 — This barely counts as a longshot, as Taiba is taking money and will continue to see his Derby odds drop before this race. Still, seeing him 10-1 or higher early in the week was surprising, and that puts him in the conversation. He is lightly raced with only two career starts, but he has two victories in those races. He was sired by Gun Runner and has Mike Smith aboard, and it’s an easy case to make why this horse could be a factor on Saturday. Similar to Messier, Taiba’s two races were both at Santa Anita in California, so he also has no racing experience at Churchill.

Charge It 20-1 — Luis Saez is the jockey and Todd Pletcher the trainer, so right off the bat this horse has some intrigue. Charge It finished second in the Florida Derby last time out, but there is more to that story. On the break he actually crashed into the gate, and despite that he had a chance late even with the erratic trip. That doesn’t mean he would have won the race if not for all the struggles, but he does have intrigue with a cleaner start here. With only three races to his name, all in Florida, there are plenty of unknowns, but at 20-1 this is the type of horse that could result in a massive payout if he hits the board.

2022 Kentucky Derby Betting Picks

Although there is always appeal to targeting a horse at long odds, it’s hard to imagine a major longshot being able to beat all the talent in this field. This is more wide open than years past, and it’s expected to rain, opening up a bunch of different scenarios.

Kentucky Derby Winner: Epicenter (7-2)

Epicenter and Asmussen will both get their marquee victory on Saturday, as this horse checks almost all the boxes. He is super consistent, has a larger body of work than a lot of the others and has a style that should suit any condition. An obvious question is simply, will he be fast enough? He hasn’t blown away a field speed-wise, but this will be his best showing of his career. With some of the other favorites having even more questions to answer, Epicenter is the best starting point for a betting card.

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Kentucky Derby Exacta Bet: Epicenter/Taiba/Charge It

Some exotic options for this race could be picking the first- and second–place finishers (exacta) or first, second and third (trifecta). Both provide opportunities for huge payouts, as these are much harder to hit and thus have much longer odds.

Epicenter would be the preferred 2022 Kentucky Derby pick as part of any exotic, as he is the horse most likely to win the race. Depending on risk tolerance and bankroll, a number of horses could be included, but throwing in the two longshots in Taiba and Charge It will offer a chance for a big payday. If boxing them in the exacta, Charge It to win with Taiba or Epicenter in second would produce the highest return and a really big result in that order of finish. The scary horse to leave out is Messier since he has shown that consistency through every start, so consider him as well if making an even bigger ticket.


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*Ben Rasa (aka Jazzraz)* has been involved with sports and numbers for quite some time dabbling in the poker world , sports wagering and of course finding a home in the DFS world. While he enjoys playing NFL, NCAAF and NBA he has found his best advantage on the links with PGA and the Euro Tour. Jazzraz focuses on GPPs and uses a analytical approach to try and find pricing inefficiencies as well as trying to go against the grain to find those under owned lesser know players that can make the difference in giant field tournaments. You can contact Ben by emailing [email protected].

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