May 26, 2024

Get to know the 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders

Post positions for the 2022 Kentucky Derby will be drawn May 2 (Coady Photography)

***Updated after Monday’s draw with positions and morning-line odds

With the Road to the Kentucky Derby now completed, and the final points all tallied, the 2022 Run for the Roses is coming into sharper focus.

Louisiana Derby (G2) hero Epicenter, who tops the leaderboard with a grand total of 164 points, will be one of the favorites on the first Saturday in May. The 9-2 favorite in Pool 5 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, Epicenter will try to give Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen his first Kentucky Derby victory.

The next two in the points standings likewise represent prominent horsemen seeking their first Derby wins. Four-time Eclipse Award champion Chad Brown has 3-1 morning-line favorite Zandon (114 points), and White Abarrio (112) hails from the barn of Saffie Joseph.

Mo Donegal (112 points) spearheads the team for Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, a two-time Derby winner. Kenny McPeek renews his Derby quest with two in the top 10, Tiz the Bomb and Smile Happy.

Brad Cox recently became a Derby-winning trainer when Mandaloun was promoted by the disqualification of Medina Spirit. Now he has as many as three chances to go back-to-back, with Cyberknife, Zozos, and Tawny Port.

Tim Yakteen, who received several high-profile transfers from the suspended Bob Baffert, has potential history-maker Taiba and Messier.

Although the Japan and European Roads have not yielded any contenders, the UAE Derby (G2) exacta advances to Churchill Downs – Japanese hope Crown Pride and Dubai-based Summer Is Tomorrow.

Here’s the field for Derby 148, in points order, followed by the also-eligibles needing defections to get into the 20-horse starting gate. If horses have the same number of points, the tiebreak is non-restricted stakes earnings. Then career earnings come into play if a second tiebreak is needed.

148th Kentucky Derby

Epicenter (164 points), Post 3, 7-2

The king of Fair Grounds nearly swept the four preps in New Orleans, taking the Louisiana Derby, Risen Star (G2), and Gun Runner S. and just missed in the Lecomte (G3).

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Joel Rosario

Pedigree: Not This Time-Silent Candy, by Candy Ride

More on Epicenter

Zandon (114 points), Post 10, 3-1

Blue Grass (G1) winner was emphatic after commendable placings in the Remsen (G2) and Risen Star.

Owner: Jeff Drown; Trainer: Chad Brown; Jockey: Flavien Prat

Pedigree: Upstart-Memories Prevail, by Creative Cause

More on Zandon

White Abarrio (112 points), Post 15, 10-1

Florida Derby (G1) and Holy Bull (G3) romper is unbeaten at Gulfstream Park.

Owners: C2 Racing Stable & La Milagrosa Stable; Trainer: Saffie Joseph; Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Pedigree: Race Day-Catching Diamonds, by Into Mischief

More on White Abarrio

Mo Donegal (110 points), Post 1, 10-1

Wood Memorial (G2) winner was returning to the scene of his prior career high in the Remsen.

Owner: Donegal Racing; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Irad Ortiz

Pedigree: Uncle Mo-Callingmissbrown, by Pulpit

More on Mo Donegal

Tiz the Bomb (110 points), Post 9, 30-1

Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) conqueror aims to transfer his all-weather (and juvenile turf) form to dirt.

Owner: Magdalena Racing; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: Brian Hernandez

Pedigree: Hit It a Bomb-Tiz the Key, by Tiznow

More on Tiz the Bomb

Cyberknife (100 points), Post 16, 20-1

Highly-regarded but mentally immature colt put it all together in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Owner: Gold Square; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Florent Geroux

Pedigree: Gun Runner-Awesome Flower, by Flower Alley

More on Cyberknife

Crown Pride (100 points), Post 7, 20-1

Once-beaten Japanese colt rallied stoutly as a 16-1 overlay in the UAE Derby.

Owner: Teruya Yoshida; Trainer: Koichi Shintani; Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

Pedigree: Reach the Crown-Emmy’s Pride, by King Kamehameha

International scouting report on Crown Pride

Taiba (100 points), Post 12, 12-1

Santa Anita Derby (G1) star will try to become the first horse since 1883 to win the Derby in just his third career start.

Owner: Zedan Racing Stables; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: Mike Smith

Pedigree: Gun Runner-Needmore Flattery, by Flatter

More on Taiba

Simplification (74 points), Post 13, 20-1

Fountain of Youth (G2) score was bookended by solid placings in the Holy Bull and Florida Derby.

Owner: Tami Bobo; Trainer: Antonio Sano; Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Pedigree: Not This Time-Simply Confection, by Candy Ride

More on Simplification

Smile Happy (70 points), Post 5, 20-1

Kentucky Jockey Club (G2) romper has since played second fiddle in the Risen Star and Blue Grass.

Owner: Lucky Seven Stable; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Pedigree: Runhappy-Pleasant Smile, by Pleasant Tap

More on Smile Happy

Classic Causeway (66 points), Post 17, 30-1

Tampa Bay Derby (G2) hero, reportedly off the trail after fading to last in the Florida Derby, is suddenly back in consideration as of April 25.

Owners: Kentucky West Racing and Clarke M. Cooper; Trainer: Brian Lynch; Jockey: Julien Leparoux

Pedigree: Giant’s Causeway-Private World, by Thunder Gulch

More on Classic Causeway

Tawny Port (60 points), Post 18, 30-1

Lexington (G3) winner proved his dirt aptitude by capturing the final scoring race.

Owner: Peachtree Stable; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Ricardo Santana

Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Livi Makenzie, by Macho Uno

More on Tawny Port

Barber Road (58 points), Post 14, 30-1

Arkansas Derby runner-up has placed in all four prep races at Oaklawn Park.

Owner: WSS Racing; Trainer: John Ortiz; Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Pedigree: Race Day-Encounter, by Southern Image

More on Barber Road

Messier (40 points), Post 6, 8-1

Santa Anita Derby runner-up had run away with the Bob Lewis (G3) in his prior start.

Owners: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, et al; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Empire Maker-Checkered Past, by Smart Strike

More on Messier

Zozos (40 points), Post 19, 20-1

Louisiana Derby runner-up promises to add to the Derby pace.

Owners: Barry & Joni Butzow; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Manny Franco

Pedigree: Munnings-Papa’s Forest, by Forestry

More on Zozos

Summer Is Tomorrow (40 points), Post 4, 30-1

Speedy colt beat all bar Crown Pride in the UAE Derby.

Owners: Michael Hilary Burke & Negar Burke; Trainer: Bhupat Seemar; Jockey: Mickael Barzalona

Pedigree: Summer Front-Always Tomorrow, by Badge of Silver

International scouting report on Summer Is Tomorrow

Charge It (40 points), Post 8, 20-1

Blueblood stands to benefit from a learning-curve second in the Florida Derby.

Owner: Whisper Hill Farm; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Luis Saez

Pedigree: Tapit-I’ll Take Charge, by Indian Charlie

More on Charge It

Happy Jack (30 points), Post 2, 30-1

Remote thirds in the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe (G2) are enough to make the cut.

Owner: Calumet Farm; Trainer: Doug O’Neill; Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

Pedigree: Oxbow-Tapitstry, by Tapit

More on Happy Jack

Pioneer of Medina (25 points), Post 11, 30-1

Louisiana Derby third was earlier fourth in the Risen Star.

Owner: Sumaya U.S. Stables; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Joe Bravo

Pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile-Lights of Medina, by Eskendereya

More on Pioneer of Medina

SCRATCHED Ethereal Road (22 points), Post 20, 30-1

Rebel near-misser wheeled back from a seventh in the Blue Grass to take fourth in the Lexington.

Owners: Julie Gilbert & Aaron Sones; Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas; Jockey: Luis Contreras

Pedigree: Quality Road-Sustained, by War Front

More on Ethereal Road


No. 21 Rich Strike (21 points), 30-1

Jeff Ruby Steaks third was previously fourth in the John Battaglia Memorial, also over the Turfway Tapeta, and draws into the Derby with the Friday morning scratch of Ethereal Road.

Owner: RED TR-Racing; Trainer: Eric Reed; Jockey: Sonny Leon

Pedigree: Keen Ice-Gold Strike, by Smart Strike

SCRATCHED No. 22 Rattle N Roll (20 points), 30-1

Breeders’ Futurity (G1) star has failed to hit the trifecta this term, coming closest when fourth in the Louisiana Derby.

Owner: Lucky Seven Stable; Trainer: Kenny McPeek; Jockey: James Graham

Pedigree: Connect-Jazz Tune, by Johannesburg