Kentucky Derby 2022 Contenders: Lineup and Pedigree for All Entries in the Field

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 2, 2022

Kentucky Derby 2022 Contenders: Lineup and Pedigree for All Entries in the Field

0 of 3

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Kentucky Derby week has arrived, and the hype is beginning to build for the 2022 edition of the Run for the Roses.

    This will be the 148th running of the race, which takes place every year at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky and signals the start of horse racing's Triple Crown season.

    The 20-horse field hasn't yet been finalized, but it's beginning to take shape. And there's no clear-cut favorite to win this year's event, so it will be intriguing to see how the betting lines shift up until Saturday's race.

    Here's a look at some of the colts that will likely be participating in this year's Kentucky Derby, along with the pedigree of each.

Top Contenders

1 of 3

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Epicenter (pedigree: Not This Time and Silent Candy)

    White Abarrio (pedigree: Race Day and Catching Diamonds)

    Zandon (pedigree: Upstart and Memories Prevail)

    Mo Donegal (pedigree: Uncle Mo and Callingmissbrown)

    Taiba (pedigree: Gun Runner and Needmore Flattery)


    Heading into the Derby, Epicenter is the early favorite. It's not a situation where he's expected to easily outrun the other horses, but it seems likely he'll have a strong showing based on his racing history.

    The colt has won four of his past five outings, which included a victory in the Louisiana Derby in March. His only non-win over that stretch was a second-place finish at the Lecomte Stakes in January. If Epicenter can win the Derby, he'd be the first Steve Asmussen-trained horse to do so.

    "He has taken a lot of training extremely easy," Asmussen said, per Jay Privman of Daily Racing Form. "He took the Louisiana Derby well. That’s the way he’s worked since—faster, stronger than normal."

    Asmussen has won the Preakness Stakes twice (2007 and 2009) and the Belmont Stakes (2016) but never the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Joel Rosario won the Derby on Orb in 2013, and he'll now look to ride Epicenter to victory this year.

Middle of the Pack

2 of 3

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Messier (pedigree: Empire Maker and Checkered Past)

    Simplification (pedigree: Not This Time and Simply Confection)

    Smile Happy (pedigree: Runhappy and Pleasant Smile)

    Charge It (pedigree: Tapit and I'll Take Charge)

    Cyberknife (pedigree: Gun Runner and Awesome Flower)

    Crown Pride (pedigree: Reach the Crown and Emmy's Pride)

    Tiz the Bomb (pedigree: Hit It A Bomb and Tiz the Key)


    Any of these horses could emerge as Kentucky Derby contenders. And as the week progresses, it's possible some of their odds will improve. But for now, these colts appear to be a tier below the top contenders.

    One horse to watch among this group is Simplification. The Antonio Sano-trained colt has finished in the top three in each of his past six races. He had won three of five events before finishing third in last month's Florida Derby behind White Abarrio and Charge It, another pair of likely Kentucky Derby competitors. 

    Charge It is another horse that could have strong betting value. The colt doesn't have a ton of experience, having only competed in three races, but he's finished first or second in each of them.

    He's also trained by Todd Pletcher, who has twice won the Kentucky Derby (Super Saver in 2010, Always Dreaming in 2017).

In the Running

3 of 3

    Andy Lyons/Getty Images

    Barber Road (pedigree: Race Day and Encounter)

    Zozos (pedigree: Munnings and Papa's Forest)

    Tawny Port (pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile and Livi Makenzie)

    Summer Is Tomorrow (pedigree: Summer Front and Always Tomorrow)

    Un Ojo (pedigree: Laoban and Risk a Chance)

    Pioneer of Medina (pedigree: Pioneerof the Nile and Lights of Medina)


    These horses are longer shots to win the Kentucky Derby, but there's always the potential for surprises in the Run for the Roses. In 2019, 65-1 Country House won the race, so it's not like an upset hasn't happened before.

    Pioneer of Medina wasn't originally expected to be in this year's field, but a spot opened up when trainer Chad Brown announced on Sunday that he wouldn't be entering Early Voting in the race.

    There's a chance Pioneer of Medina capitalizes on this opportunity. The colt finished third in the Louisiana Derby, behind only Epicenter and Zozos, and he's ended up in the top three in five of his first six races, which includes a pair of victories.

    And like Charge It, Pioneer of Medina is trained by Pletcher.