2022 Kentucky Derby Preview: Posts, Morning Line Odds, Bet Ideas

Written By Dave Bontempo on May 3, 2022
2022 kentucky derby odds

None of the Kentucky Derby favorites are stuck on the dreaded rail. That’s good news for nationwide bettors who want to see highly-acclaimed Epicenter and morning line favorite Zandon battle it out on the Churchill Downs oval along with 18 others for the 148th running of the Derby on Saturday. We’ll analyze 2022 Kentucky Derby odds here. Click on the odds anywhere in this article to bet now.

Epicenter drew the No. 3 post and Zandon No. 10 in Monday’s draw. Mo Donegal drew the rail, which has not produced a Derby winner since Ferdinand in 1986. Derby post time is 6:57 p.m. ET Saturday.

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2022 Kentucky Derby Odds

Post Positions and Morning Line Odds

20 horses will run in the race. In the event one or more horses scratch from the field, all horses drawn outside of the scratched horse(s) will move inward in the starting gate, and Rich Strike and/or Rattle N Roll will draw into the field and start from the outside post(s). However, they will still be No. 21 and No. 22 on your betting app or at the betting window.

PostHorseLatest odds (6:30 p.m. ETMorning Line OddsTrainerJockeyW-P-S (Races)
1Mo Donegal9-110-1Todd PletcherIrad Ortiz Jr.3-0-2 (5)
2Happy Jack20-130-1Doug O'NeillRafael Bejarano0-0-2 (3)
3Epicenter5-17-2Steve AsmussenJoel Rosario4-1-0 (6)
4Summer Is Tomorrow33-130-1Bhupat SeemarMickael Barzalona2-3-0 (7)
5Smile Happy14-120-1Kenny McPeekCorey Lanerie2-2-0 (4)
6Messier (CAN)6-18-1Tim Yakteen*John Velazquez3-3-0 (6)
7Crown Pride (JPN)17-120-1Koichi ShintaniChristophe Lemaire3-0-0 (4)
8Charge It15-120-1Todd PletcherLuis Saez1-2-0 (3)
9Tiz the Bomb27-130-1Kenny McPeekBrian Hernandez Jr.5-1-0 (8)
10Zandon6-13-1Chad BrownFlavien Prat2-1-1 (4)
11Pioneer of Medina53-130-1Todd PletcherJoe Bravo2-1-2 (6)
12Taiba5-112-1Tim Yakteen*Mike Smith2-0-0 (2)
13Simplification35-120-1Antionio SanoJose Ortiz3-1-2 (7)
14Barber Road54-130-1John OrtizRey Gutierrez2-4-1 (8)
15White Abarrio14-110-1Saffie Joseph Jr.Tyler Gaffalione4-0-1 (5)
16Cyberknife15-120-1Brad CoxFlorent Geroux3-2-0 (6)
17Classic Causway75-130-1Brian LynchJulien Leparoux3-1-1 (6)
18Tawny Port74-130-1Brad CoxRicardo Santana Jr.3-1-0 (5)
19Zozos43-120-1Brad CoxManny Franco2-1-0 (3)
21Rich Strike80-130-1Eric ReedSonny Leon1-0-3 (7)

1. Mo Donegal (10-1)

Loves to run late and may have no choice because of the rail. Rallied nicely to win the Wood Memorial. Pros: Nearly a five-second improvement at 1 1/8 miles a few months apart at Aqueduct. Faster than one of the favorites of this race, Epicenter, at this distance. Plus, no horse in this field ran faster final furlong times in their most recent race. Cons: Hasn’t thrived outside of New York. Will be forced to pass more horses than what seems reasonable, given the large field. The new gate which brings inside horses farther off the rail will help.

2. Happy Jack (30-1)

Beaten decisively in the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derbies in California. Doesn’t make sense here.

3. Epicenter (7-2)

Looked like a champion, out finishing the field in the Louisiana Derby. Good news here is that he should easily clear the inside horses. Bad news is that speed-favoring Summer is Tomorrow breaks just outside of him and Messier is two wide of that.
Has shown the ability to rate but may be forced into a gun-and-go scenario. Can he get early position or will he be dogged all the way around the track?

4. Summer is Tomorrow (30-1)

Will make a statement if he compromises Epicenter. Had the lead for most of the UAE Derby before being overtaken by Crown Pride. Could be raising eyebrows for the first mile.

5. Smile Happy (20-1)

That’s a sweet price for a horse that led the Blue Grass until Zandon, the morning line favorite here, ran him down. Excellent consideration underneath.

6. Messier (8-1)

The Ontario bred horse was the hottest in the country until another horse beat him in the Santa Anita Derby. Unfortunately for Messier backers, that horse, Taiba, is in this race. Bettors would have to take the improvement angle in backing him. Wasn’t beaten until the final strides, which is a positive sign, but must make a significant uptick to be there.

7. Crown Pride (20-1)

The Japanese horse was initially intriguing because he won the 1 3–16-mile UAE Derby. But the time was nearly five seconds slower than Epicenter’s triumph in the Louisiana Derby. Probably too much to overcome.

8. Charge It (20-1)

Extremely good odds for a horse that finished second in the Florida Derby to White Abarrio in only his third race. Still room to peak. Was a step slow out of the gate and ran greenly at times, but still nearly stole the race. Consider underneath.

9. Tiz the Bomb (30-1)

On the uptick. A buried seventh in the Holy Bull to White Abarrio. Took a side road and won the Jeff Ruby Steaks at 1 1/8 mile to qualify for Churchill Downs. Nothing wrong with the last effort. Would need a similar rate of improvement to be in it.

10. Zandon (3-1)

The morning line favorite in 2022 Kentucky Derby odds. Absolutely loved more recent look at the replay of the Blue Grass. Was in all kinds of traffic and rallied from nearly last to circle the field, which had been treated to a slow pace. With any type of position, he’s a serious contender. Concern that a similar early position in the Derby would be too much to overcome in a field of 20. Will need to be closer and hopes a hot pace develops up front.

11. Pioneer of Medina (30-1)

Ran strongly to the turn in some of the Derby lead-up races, but could not follow through until the wire.
Possible pace factor. This looks like too much to ask.

12. Taiba (12-1)

Looking to set a record by winning the Derby in just his third race. Contender off the fact he outkicked Messier in the Santa Anita Derby and has a 103 Beyer Speed Figure at a sprint and a 102 at 1 1/8 miles. Have to play him off of that. Skepticism over the fact he’s been in smaller fields and now may have traffic problems. But good post position and should be respected. Taiba is also tied with Mo Donegal for the best Brisnet speed figure in this field.

13. Simplification (20-1)

Good price if this stays for a horse that won the Fountain of Youth and then was third in the Florida Derby. The knock on him is that he had the lead coming for home in that race and then both White Abarrio and Charge It charged past him.

14. Barber Road (30-1)

Deceptive. Hasn’t been winning the big races, but runs better the longer it goes. Stole second place from Secret Oath behind Cyberknife in the 1 1/8-mile Arkansas Derby. Was a distant second. If he can stretch, would not be out of the question to pluck a spot in the bottom of the superfecta.

15. White Abarrio (10-1)

Nice victory in the Florida Derby and he’s been working strongly. Looked to be laboring at the end of the 1 1/8-mile Florida Derby, though. How well can he stretch?

16. Cyberknife (20-1)

On the improvement line. Beaten soundly by Epicenter in the Lecomte, but later won the Arkansas Derby boldly and definitively. Beyer figures are not high and the race was slower than others at this distance, but he will be overlooked. Another exotics candidate.

17. Classic Causeway (30-1)

Won two Tampa preps, but faded inexplicably in the Florida Derby to finish 11th. No reports of him being hurt. Seemed to hit a wall that day and this one is bigger.

18. Tawny Port (30-1)

Won the 20-point Lexington Stakes to punch his ticket here. He faces horses who won 100-point qualifiers. Too much.

19. Zozos (20-1)

Intrigue. Had the lead into the stretch before Epicenter ran him down in the Louisiana Derby. Definite speed factor. If he’s able to rate and stay in position, could be part of this picture. Would figure his odds come down from here.

20. Ethereal Road (30-1)

Nice efforts in the Rebel, where he finished second to Un Ojo. Not as good in the follow up races.

Kentucky Derby Pace Factor

The pace should be hotter than some recent Derbys. Epicenter, Summer is Tomorrow, Messier and Zozos like to be near the pace. Epicenter will have to flash early tactical speed to avoid being bottled up from the No. 3 post.

Smile Happy, Charge It and Simplification may be in store for good stalking tips. If a speed duel develops, they may run better than expected.

How I am betting the Kentucky Derby

Win Bet

$20 win bet on Epicenter. He won the Louisiana Derby in what was essentially a hand ride, thus his 1 3/16-mile winning time of could have been at least a half-second faster.

$10 win bet on Taiba. Just in case Epicenter has some traffic problems. Nobody believes a horse can do something until it happens. He’s not supposed to win the Derby in his third race. But he was favored in the Santa Anita Derby in his second, and he won.


Here are a pair of $5 exacta boxes: Epicenter and Zozos, Epicenter and Taiba, Epicenter and Zandon.

Zozos was beaten by Epicenter, but also has the shortest area to stretch, just 1/16 mile. Zandon’s closing style is not ideal for the Derby, but there is a chance of a hot pace rather than a breezing gallop takes place up front. That could soften the field at the top of the stretch. Taiba has more room to improve than others in the field. Beyers of 103 and 102 get bucks from me.


A $1 trifecta key putting Epicenter in the first and second spots, with Charge It, Simplification, Taiba and Zandon. Total is $24 for that bet.

A $1 trifecta box with Zandon, Epicenter and Zozos.

Other thoughts and ideas

Will consider, on looks, putting some bombs underneath. Will put Messier in a couple of underneath tickets. There will be more bets looming on Derby Day, based on how the track is playing.

Good luck handicapping 2022 Kentucky Derby odds!

Dave Bontempo Avatar
Written by
Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

View all posts by Dave Bontempo