The day of the 2022 Kentucky Derby has arrived. And if the betting lines are any indication, the horse race known as "the most exciting two minutes in sports" may be even more exciting than usual. Odds have continued to shift, and there's no clear-cut front-runner to win Saturday's Run for the Roses.
Epicenter and Taiba both have 5-1 lines to win this year's Derby, but Messier (7-1), Mo Donegal (8-1) and Zandon (8-1) all have short odds as well. Of course, there's always the possibility of a sleeper or longshot winning the race, too, as has been proved over the years.
So once the 20 horses leave their posts at Churchill Downs and begin the 1¼-mile race, anything could happen. But many bettors have been trying to predict what will happen with the money they've placed leading up to the event.
As the Derby nears, here's the full lineup and odds, followed by predictions for how the race will unfold.
2022 Kentucky Derby Lineup, Odds
1. Mo Donegal (8-1)
2. Happy Jack (21-1)
3. Epicenter (5-1)
4. Summer Is Tomorrow (42-1)
5. Smile Happy (14-1)
6. Messier (7-1)
7. Crown Pride (17-1)
8. Charge It (13-1)
9. Tiz the Bomb (25-1)
10. Zandon (8-1)
11. Pioneer of Medina (47-1)
12. Taiba (5-1)
13. Simplification (40-1)
14. Barber Road (40-1)
15. White Abarrio (11-1)
16. Cyberknife (14-1)
17. Classic Causeway (67-1)
18. Tawny Port (67-1)
19. Zozos (39-1)
20. Rich Strike (99-1)
Lines via KentuckyDerby.com
For much of the week, Zandon had been the betting favorite to win this year's Kentucky Derby. But that's no longer the case, even though the Chad Brown-trained colt is still among the race's expected top contenders. Now, Epicenter and Taiba have the best odds to win.
Epicenter has been among the shortest lines all week, and that isn't a surprise. He's finished in the top two in each of his past six races, a stretch that includes five victories. The colt won the Louisiana Derby in March, and he also raced to victory at the Risen Star Stakes in February, a race in which Zandon placed third.
If Epicenter can win Saturday's race, it will mark the first Kentucky Derby victory for trainer Steve Asmussen, who had previously entered 23 horses in the event.
"He has taken a lot of training extremely easily," Asmussen said, per Frank Angst of BloodHorse. "I also thought he took the Louisiana Derby extremely easily—in terms of how he came back from the test barn and went into the barn. That's why his training and his works since have been faster and stronger."
Taiba is also a strong horse, but he doesn't have nearly as much racing experience as many of the other colts in the Derby field. Taiba has only raced twice, but he won each of those events, including the Santa Anita Derby last month.
Like fellow Kentucky Derby competitor Messier, Taiba is now being trained by Tim Yakteen, who had never previously been a head trainer for a Derby horse. Both colts had previously been trained by Bob Baffert, who is currently serving a suspension for Medina Spirit's failed drug test following the 2021 Derby.
Yakteen was an apprentice under Baffert and is excited to see how his two horses fare Saturday.
"I was honored they had the confidence that I could continue to carry the torch," Yakteen said, per Beth Harris of the Associated Press.
Even though Messier and Taiba are strong horses, there's a chance that neither finishes in the money (top three). That's just how competitive this year's Kentucky Derby field is.
So, which one of these colts is going to emerge from the pack and end up on top?
The prediction here is that Epicenter will race to victory, continuing to excel while winning the opening leg of the Triple Crown schedule. The colt has already previously outraced Zandon (who is also likely to finish in the top three of the Derby), and he should overcome his starting position in the No. 3 post to stay near the front early.
In the Louisiana Derby, Epicenter wasn't in the lead for most of the race before surging late and finishing strong down the final stretch. Expect something similar to happen on Saturday in Louisville, but this time, Epicenter will overtake Mo Donegal and Zandon, who will both also have strong showings and end up finishing in the money.
Prediction: 1. Epicenter; 2. Mo Donegal; 3. Zandon