Kentucky Derby 2022 Horses: Full Lineup, Favorites and Sleepers in 148th Race

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 5, 2022

Kentucky Derby 2022 Horses: Full Lineup, Favorites and Sleepers in 148th Race

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    There will be 20 horses lined up in the posts at Churchill Downs for Saturday's Kentucky Derby. And 1.25 miles later, one will be crowned the 2022 champion and go on to leave Louisville with the opportunity to try to capture the illustrious Triple Crown.

    This year's Derby field is fairly wide-open, as there's no clear-cut favorite. So The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports should be even more exhilarating in 2022.

    Saturday's race will be the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby and will kick off horse racing's Triple Crown season. The Preakness Stakes will take place May 21, and that's followed by the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

    Here's everything you need to know about the field for this year's Kentucky Derby.

Full Kentucky Derby Lineup

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    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 (12-1)

    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)


    Lines via


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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Zandon (3-1)

    Zandon was already among the top contenders, but he became the betting favorite after landing the No. 10 starting spot in the post draw. That spot that has produced nine previous Kentucky Derby winners. The only post with more is the No. 5 spot, which has been the starting spot for 10 winners.

    Although Zandon has only four races of experience, the colt has finished in the top three at each. He's coming off his second career win at April's Grade I Blue Grass Stakes.

    Zandon has a strong opportunity to become the first Chad Brown-trained horse to win the Kentucky Derby. Jockey Flavien Prat will look to ride Zandon to victory and win the Derby for the second time. Prat's lone Derby win came on Country House in 2019.


    Epicenter (7-2)

    Prior to the post draw, Epicenter was the betting favorite. The colt is now behind Zandon after landing the No. 3 post, which has produced five winners but none since Real Quiet in 1998.

    It may not be the greatest starting spot, but Epicenter is a strong horse capable of overcoming setbacks. The Steve Asmussen-trained colt has five wins and a second-place finish over his past six races, which includes a victory at the Louisiana Derby in March.

    Asmussen is 0-for-23 with horses in the Kentucky Derby, while jockey Joel Rosario is looking to win the Derby for a second time. His first Kentucky Derby win came on Orb in 2013.


    Messier (8-1)

    Messier is one of two Kentucky Derby horses trained by Tim Yakteen, who had never previously entered a colt in the race. Messier and Taiba were both previously trained by Bob Baffert, who is suspended after Medina Spirit, the original 2021 Kentucky Derby winner, was disqualified for a failed drug test.

    Through six career races, Messier has only finished first or second. He had won three of four races before ending up second in April's Santa Anita Derby, where he was bested by Taiba.

    Messier has one of the most successful jockeys in the Kentucky Derby field, as John Velazquez will be aiming to win the race for a fourth time. Velazquez previously won the Run for the Roses on Animal Kingdom (2011), Always Dreaming (2017) and Authentic (2020).

Sleepers to Watch

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    Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

    Taiba (12-1)

    Taiba's odds to win the Derby may not be as strong as Messier's, the other Yakteen-trained colt in the field, but he beat Messier in the Santa Anita Derby the last time both were entered into a race. So Taiba shouldn't be counted out.

    However, Taiba has only competed in two races. Prior to the Santa Anita Derby, he won a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita Park in March. Taiba doesn't have a ton of experience, but his victories suggest there's the potential for him to have a strong Kentucky Derby showing.

    Taiba's jockey is Mike Smith, who first won the Derby with Giacomo in 2005 and then raced to victory again on Justify in 2018 en route to the Triple Crown.


    Zozos (20-1)

    Trainer Brad Cox has three horses in this year's Kentucky Derby field, but none have a betting line better than 20-1. The best horse among the trio may be Zozos, who won each of his first three career races before finishing second to Epicenter in March's Louisiana Derby.

    Zozos was out in front for much of that race but couldn't hold off Epicenter, who used a late charge to win by two lengths. Still, it was a solid showing for Zozos, and it showed that he could be a sleeper in the Kentucky Derby.

    Jockey Manuel Franco has never won the Derby, but he rode Tiz the Law to victory in the 2020 Belmont Stakes.


    Tiz the Bomb (30-1)

    It's a high risk to bet on Tiz the Bomb, one of the biggest long shots in the Derby field.

    This Kenneth McPeek-trained colt hasn't raced much on dirt, having competed on the surface only three times among his first eight races. Tiz the Bomb has mostly been successful while racing on turf and synthetic surfaces. But he's coming off two straight wins at the John Battaglia Memorial in March and April's Jeff Ruby Steaks.

    If Tiz the Bomb can race just as well on dirt—on which he has one win and two seventh-place finishes—then a surprise Kentucky Derby performance could be in store.