Kentucky Derby Contenders: The Latest On Epicenter, Zandon, Cyberknife, More

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 25, 2022
Kentucky Derby workout times

It’s not quite reveille, but major contenders in the Kentucky Derby field rise early to conduct early-morning workouts and stay sharp for the May 7 Run for the Roses. Many horses have already shipped to Churchill Downs. Some will follow soon.

Here is an overview of recent workout activity from the horses likely to compete in the big race. Kentucky Derby odds will be made available on the day of the post draw on May 3. Bettors might consider this past weekend their two-week notice to sharpen the handicapping.

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Epicenter, the likely Derby favorite and overall Road to the Kentucky Derby points leader, went six furlongs Sunday in 1:12.20. This followed his clocking of five furlongs in 1:00.80 on Easter Sunday at 6 a.m. That workout also included opening fractions of :12.60, :24.20 and 36.

In that effort, Epicenter continued to gallop out strongly around the clubhouse turn and onto the backside with a six-furlong gallop out in 1:13.60 and seven seven furlongs in 1:27. The Louisiana Derby winner finished his move with a one-mile clocking of 1:44


Zandon, the Blue Grass Stakes winner and runner-up in the race for qualifying points, recently completed eighth-mile fractions of :12.80, :25.20 for the quarter-mile and :37 for three furlongs. He galloped out five furlongs in 1:00.80, six furlongs in 1:13.80 and seven-eighths of a mile in 1:27.60.


Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife breezed at 5:15 a.m. Friday (ET) with jockey Florent Geroux in the saddle. The son of Gun Runner worked on the outside of stablemate Koolhaus.

Cyberknife started two lengths back at the five-furlong marker and finished two lengths in front at the wire. He continued his strong move around the far turn and completed seven furlongs in 1:24.60, according to Churchill Downs clocker John Nichols.

Charge It and Mo Donegal

Trainer Todd Pletcher’s Derby duo of Whisper Hill Farm’s Florida Derby (GI) runner-up Charge It and Donegal Racing’s Wood Memorial (GII) winner Mo Donegal worked in separate sets.

Charge It was the first of the two to work and went in company outside Cezanne through fractions of :12, :25.40, :37.60. They galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.80 and seven furlongs in 1:25. Charge It completed his move with a one-mile time of 1:38.60.

Mo Donegal breezed outside of My Prankster through composed early fractions of :13 and :26.20. They galloped out five furlongs in 1:02.20.

“With Charge It, we were looking for a good, solid breeze,” Pletcher said. “He went a minute and four-fifths with a super big gallop out. We were really happy with that. With Mo Donegal, with the Wood just 13 days ago, we were just looking for an easy half in :50. He had a nice gallop out as well. All the horses got over the track well”

Other horses, Derby news

  • Classic Causeway is back into the Kentucky Derby field. Early Voting is questionable. Morello, No. 15 on the leaderboard, was removed from consideration because of a foot issue. Slow Down Andy, the Sunland Derby winner, has been knocked out of the race because of sickness, according to his connections. This will open the door for invitations to some horses outside of the Top 20. Pioneer of the Nile, In Due Time, Ethereal Road, Rich Strike and In Due Time are next in line for invitations.
  • Arkansas Derby runner-up Barber Road (six furlongs, 1:16.40 ) and Louisiana Derby runner-up Zozos (six furlongs, 1:12.40) also got functional workouts in over recent days. Tiz the Bomb, the Jeff Ruby Steaks champion, unfurled five furlongs in 1:00.20. Un Ojo, the Rebel Stakes winner at 75-1, breezed five furlongs in 59.40. Simplification prepared for a scheduled start in the Derby Friday morning with an eye-catching five-furlong workout at Gulfstream Park in :59.42.
  • Crown Pride, the Japanese-trained winner of the Group 2 UAE Derby, put new meaning into the term “going it alone.” According to, the 3-year-old son of Reach the Crown was schooling at the starting gate when he unseated his exercise rider Masa Matsuda. Outrider Lee Lockwood quickly apprehended Crown Pride, and he was returned to the starting gate for further education. Matsuda told “In Japan, you just open the gate and we can go, but in America, first bell, then open. So the horse was very (surprised)… I fell off of (the horse) but I just checked the ground of Churchill Downs.”
  • At Gulfstream Park, Florida Derby winner White Abarrio was timed in :34.55, the fastest of 41 workouts recorded at the distance, for his first breeze since capturing the big race on April 2. Junior Alvarado was aboard for breeze that included a 1:00 2/5 five-furlong gallop-out. Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the Florida Derby, has the Kentucky Derby mount. White Abarrio was third in the qualifying points standings.
  • Taiba, who won the Santa Anita Derby in only his second start, will have one more pre-Derby workout according to trainer Tim Yakteen. It will likely be Thursday or Friday of this week. The same holds true for Messier, who worked five furlongs in 59.80 seconds on Saturday at Santa Anita. Yakteen said the colts are scheduled to fly to Churchill Downs on May 1. Yakteen said neither is scheduled to work out at the Derby.
  • Summer Is Tomorrow, run down in the stretch amid a second-place finish in the UAE Derby, left Dubai for the United States on April 20. He will arrive at Churchill Downs and work out five days before the Derby, according to reports.

Beyer speed figures and KY Derby odds estimates

A look at the potential Kentucky Derby field with Beyer Speed Figures and estimated odds from TheLines’ Stephen Andress.

Post/NumberHorseBest BSFMost Recent BSFOdds Estimate
15White Abarrio9795+1000
2Mo Donegal9696+1000
9Tiz the Bomb9494+3000
7Crown Pride (JPN)N/AN/A+3000
5Smile Happy9494+1500
17Classic Causway90< 80+3000
18Tawny Port9089+3000
14Barber Road8888+3000
4Summer Is TomorrowN/AN/A+5000
8Charge It9393+1500
2Happy Jack8383+5000
11Pioneer Of Medina9393+3000
20Ethereal Road8484+5000
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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.

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