Kentucky Derby Field 2022: Pinpointing Contenders from All Horses and Jockeys

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistMay 6, 2022

Kentucky Derby entrant Taiba works out at Churchill Downs Wednesday, May 4, 2022, in Louisville, Ky. The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is scheduled for Saturday, May 7. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

Epicenter and Zandon have been on top of the odds board for most of Kentucky Derby week, but they are not the only contenders with low odds. 

Messier and Taiba have dropped below 10-1, as of Friday morning, and they could be two of the other strong horses that contend for a spot in the winner's circle. 

Messier and Taiba most likely gained steam on the odds market because of their performances at the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. 

Taiba won the race, and Messier came in second at one of the biggest buildup races to the first leg of the Triple Crown. 

Three Kentucky Derby winners in the last decade won the Santa Anita Derby. Justify was the last horse to achieve that feat in 2018. 

That could be a positive sign for those two horses to challenge Epicenter and Zandon, who opened Derby week with the lowest odds on the board. 


Kentucky Derby Field

1. Mo Donegal (16-1)

2. Happy Jack (23-1)

3. Epicenter (5-2)

4. Summer is Tomorrow (45-1)

5. Smile Happy (13-1)

6. Messier (9-1)

7. Crown Pride (23-1)

8. Charge It (11-1)

9. Tiz the Bomb (20-1)

10. Zandon (9-1)

11. Pioneer of Medina (77-1)

12. Taiba (5-1)

13. Simplification (40-1)

14. Barber Road (25-1)

15. White Abarrio (19-1)

16. Cyberknife (16-1)

17. Classic Causeway (81-1)

18. Tawny Port (75-1)

19. Zozos (66-1)

20. Rich Strike (99-1)




Taiba entered Friday morning high on the odds board. 

The Santa Anita Derby winner does not have a long track record compared to the other top horses in the field. 

Taiba made two career starts. The first one was a sprint race at Santa Anita Park, and the second was his triumph at the Santa Anita Derby.

The latter race is the one that made everyone pay attention to the horse coming out of post No. 12. 

Taiba's speed from Santa Anita could show again at Churchill Downs, especially early in the race. He is starting around a bunch of long shots. 

Taiba could either speed past all of them or get behind one pace-setter in order to save some energy for the final sprint. 

Taiba has one of the best jockeys aboard him in Mike E. Smith, who won the Derby on two occasions. He rode Justify in 2018, who was the last Santa Anita Derby winner to triumph at the Kentucky Derby. 

Although it is a small sample size, Taiba seems to be the real deal and should be in contention on Saturday. 



Messier has a larger sample size of races that may make you feel more comfortable in him than Taiba. 

Messier has been a consistent top-three finisher, and he took second behind Taiba at the Santa Anita Derby. 

The three-year-old horse won the Robert B. Lewis Stakes at Santa Anita Park in February and took second in the start before that. 

At minimum, Messier should be at the front of the pack in the closing stages of the race given his string of results. 

Like Taiba, Messier has one of the most experienced jockeys in the field on his side. 

John Velazquez is a three-time Derby winner. He last reached the winner's circle with Authentic, who was one of the three top horses in 2020. 

Velazquez's experience should be valuable to Messier, and he should get to the front of the pack fairly easily because the two horses to his left and right are not expected to factor in the race.