The buildup to the 2022 Kentucky Derby will be mostly about the two pre-race favorites.
Zandon and Epicenter separated themselves from the pack in the pre-Derby races, and they possess the lowest odds heading into Saturday's race.
However, the last few years of racing at Churchill Downs taught us to not solely focus on the horses at the top of the odds chart.
The morning line favorite did not win in each of the last three years at the Kentucky Derby.
Medina Spirit won the 2021 race at 15-1 odds but was later stripped of the title, which was awarded to Mandaloun, who went off at 12-1.
Authentic closed with the third-best odds to win the 2020 Kentucky Derby. A 50-1 horse, Mr. Big News, ended up third in that race.
Country House won in 2019 at 30-1 after Maximum Security was disqualified during the race. The two horses that finished below Country House were listed at 10-1 or higher.
There will be some surprises in the top three places on Saturday, but it's hard to decipher which dark horse makes the biggest splash.
Kentucky Derby Post Positions and Odds
Zandon has been consistent in his four starts.
The pre-race favorite finished inside the top three in each of his races. That is a set of results you love to see out of a horse of his status.
Zandon is coming off a victory at the Blue Grass Stakes, and he took third behind Epicenter at the Risen Star Stakes in February.
The progression over two months in between the last two races is promising for where Zandon stands for the Kentucky Derby.
Zandon has the results and a Derby-winning jockey in Flavien Prat going in his favor, but pre-race favorites have not fared well in the last three years.
Omaha Beach was scratched in 2019. Game Winner replaced him on top of the odds board and finished fifth, Tiz the Law failed to beat out Authentic in 2020 and Essential Quality took fourth in the initial Derby results last year.
Epicenter followed up his win over Zandon and other horses at the Risen Star Stakes with a victory at the Louisiana Derby.
The second favorite knows how to get to the front of the field. He needs to flex that characteristic on Saturday from the inside lane.
Epicenter has three victories at three different lengths, with his last win coming at 1 3/16 miles, which is the closest to the Derby's 1¼-mile circuit.
As long as Epicenter breaks free from his inside post position, he should make a run to the front.
None of the top four finishers over the last three years came from the four inside posts. Epicenter has the potential to change that.
Tiz The Bomb
Tiz The Bomb has a stat going in his favor that could mean nothing by the end of Saturday, but it is worth pointing out.
The last two horses to start out of Post No. 9 finished in the top three at the Kentucky Derby.
Hot Rod Charlie landed an initial third-place mark last year. He was moved up to second after Medina Spirit's disqualification.
Mr. Big News came out of nowhere to take third behind Authentic and Tiz The Law in 2020. He had 50-1 pre-race odds.
Tiz The Bomb has been better in turf races in his career, which is why he sits at 30-1 at the moment.
However, Tiz The Bomb has some experience racing against Derby horses on dirt. He took seventh at the Holy Bull Stakes in February behind White Abarrio, Simplification and Mo Donegal.
A fast start could help the dark-horse contender. He may not win, but he could be a part of trifecta and superfecta bets if he keeps up with the pack.
Cyberknife could make a surge from the outside lane to the front.
The 20-1 horse is coming off a win at the Arkansas Derby, which is one of the toughest tune-up events for Derby horses.
The horse trained by Brad Cox will not face stiff competition coming out of the posts. All of the horses around him in the draw are 10-1 and higher.
Cyberknife could have a clear path to the front. That is all you can ask for if you are backing a long shot. You do not want the race to be over before the first turn because of a poor start.
Jockey Florent Geroux guided Mandaloun to an unlikely second-place mark in 2021. Mandaloun was eventually named the winner after Medina Spirit's disqualification.
Geroux's experience from last year could be an asset that benefits Cyberknife and puts the horse in contention over the final half-mile.