Kentucky Derby 2022 Horses: Contenders and Race-Day Overview for Entire Field

Jake RillFeatured Columnist IIMay 7, 2022

LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 01: A general view of roses in the winner's circle with the Twin Spires in the background during the 147th Running of the Kentucky Derby on May 1, 2021 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. (Photo by Brian Spurlock/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

There have been many memorable moments at Churchill Downs over the years. After all, the Kentucky Derby, one of the most illustrious events in horse racing, has been held there 147 times. And this weekend, another chapter will be written in the race's long history.

The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is set to take place Saturday, with post time set for approximately 6:57 p.m. ET and coverage to air live on NBC. There are 20 horses in this year's field, including Epicenter and Taiba, the co-betting favorites with 5-1 odds.

The winner of the Kentucky Derby will have an opportunity to complete the Triple Crown by later racing in the Preakness Stakes (May 21) and the Belmont Stakes (June 11).

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


2022 Kentucky Derby Lineup

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


There are five horses that have betting lines of 8-1 or shorter in this year's field: Epicenter (5-1), Taiba (5-1), Messier (7-1), Zandon (8-1) and Mo Donegal (8-1). So this race seems to be more wide open than recent editions of the Run for the Roses.

Taiba and Messier were both formerly trained by Bob Baffert, but he won't be at this year's Kentucky Derby while serving a suspension following Medina Spirit's failed drug test that caused the colt to be stripped of his 2021 victory in the race. Now, Taiba and Messier are being trained by Tim Yakteen, who had never previously been the head trainer for a Kentucky Derby competitor.

Epicenter's trainer is Steve Asmussen, who has had plenty of success in horse racing over the years but has never won the Derby, going 0-for-23 at the event. But that could change this time with Epicenter, who has five wins and a second-place finish over his past six races.

Zandon was the betting favorite earlier this week, but his odds worsened a bit as the race got closer. Still, he should be among the top competitors, giving trainer Chad Brown a strong opportunity to win the Kentucky Derby for the first time.

Mo Donegal is one of three Todd Pletcher-trained horses in this year's Derby field, but the colt has better odds than Charge It (13-1) and Pioneer of Medina (47-1). Mo Donegal has won three of his past four races, including a victory at the Wood Memorial Stakes last month.

While many of the top horses in the field have experienced trainers, quite a few also have jockeys who have had past Kentucky Derby success.

John Velazquez has won the Derby three times, and he would have four victories if Medina Spirit hadn't been disqualified in 2021. This year, Velazquez will be riding Messier as he looks to get back to four Kentucky Derby wins, a mark previously reached by only three jockeys (Bill Hartack, Eddie Arcaro and Bill Shoemaker).

Mike Smith will be riding in the Kentucky Derby for the 28th time, and he'll be looking to win on Taiba. Smith will also be going for his third Derby victory, having previously won with Giacomo (2005) and Justify (2018).

Zandon will be ridden by Flavien Prat, who won his first Derby with Country House in 2019. Epicenter's jockey is Joel Rosario, who won the Kentucky Derby with Orb in 2013. And Mo Donegal will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr., who is seeking his first Derby victory.

Although the five horses with the best betting odds will likely be the strongest horses in Saturday's race, longshots could always end up near the front of the field. And without a clear dominant front-runner in the 2022 field, perhaps that's more likely to be the case.