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2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 12/23/2021: Make It Big Moves Up List With Springboard Mile Victory
Make It Big (Credit: Dustin Orona Photography)

2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 12/23/2021: Make It Big Moves Up List With Springboard Mile Victory

Welcome to the 2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings! Each week leading up to the race, we will provide our Top 20 Kentucky Derby Prospects, as well as updates with the latest news on each horse.

You can also visit our Kentucky Derby page for loads of information, including the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more!

Let’s take a look at our first list:

1. Smile Happy

Pros: Perfect record; graded stakes victory over the Churchill Downs surface

Cons: Speed figures still a bit low; not sure what he’s faced yet

Outlook: His Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) victory was pretty impressive. He showed a burst of speed late in both starts so far.

2. Corniche

Pros: Undefeated; Bob Baffert; Champion Juvenile

Cons: Speed figures are low; competition he’s faced is sketchy

Outlook: He’ll be the champion 2-year-old with ease while being the clear Kentucky Derby favorite heading into 2022.

3. My Prankster

Pros: Recent win was impressive; speed figures are consistent

Cons: Failed against stakes company more than once

Outlook: This horse continues to run consistent races even though he’s failed twice against stakes company. He might be the favorite in the early stakes at Gulfstream Park.

4. Jack Christopher

Pros: Most talented horse in the crop so far

Cons: Sprinter pedigree; injured before the Breeders’ Cup

Outlook: After watching several replays, he looks to be the most talented, but distance is a major question mark. He’ll be behind schedule a bit as well with an injury.

5. Slow Down Andy

Pros: Improved greatly in his last start; distance pedigree

Cons: Other than 1 race, he’s looked extremely average

Outlook: If his Los Alamitos Futurity (G2) win wasn’t a fluke and he can build off of that effort, then he will be a factor.

6. Mo Donegal

Pros: Excellent pedigree; victory going long

Cons: Unimpressive speed figures; Remsen winner hasn’t done much in a long time on the Derby Trail. 

Outlook: His Remsen Stakes (G2) win was workman-like, and while that race hasn’t produced much on the Derby Trail, it was still a solid win.

7. Unpredictable Bay

Pros: Maiden victory last time earned a high speed figure; solid distance pedigree

Cons: Took 7 races to break his maiden; questionable connections

Outlook: We’ll see if relatively unknown trainer Alnaz Ali can keep this horse on the improve in 2022. It took a while to break the maiden, but it was a pretty nice effort when he finally did it.

8. Emmanuel

Pros: Solid debut effort at Gulfstream Park

Cons: Speed figure wasn’t great; his next step will be a large jump up in class.

Outlook: His debut effort at Gulfstream Park was good enough to make him interesting moving forward; however, he must show improvement.

9. Doppelganger

Pros: Solid debut effort at Los Alamitos

Cons: Must improve next out from a speed figure standpoint

Outlook: This horse looked pretty professional on debut, sitting a little off the pace, and then pouncing late for an easy debut victory.

10. Messier

Pros: Stakes winner; Bob Baffert

Cons: Recent loss not a good look

Outlook: Losing as the heavy favorite is never a good thing, so we’ll see if he can bounce back from a runner-up effort in the Los Alamitos Derby (G2).

11. Rattle N Roll

Pros: Impressive victories going two turns; Grade 1 winner

Cons: An injury has him behind schedule

Outlook: He has the talent, but the key will be how quickly he can get healthy and get back on the track.

12. Make It Big

Pros: Undefeated in three starts, all victories were decisive

Cons: Class remains a question mark

Outlook: He passed his first test with flying colors, shipping to Remington Park and winning the Springboard Mile Stakes. He earned an 84 Beyer for the victory, which is solid for this time of year.

13. Zandon

Pros: Solid in both of his starts so far; should improve

Cons: Low speed figures

Outlook: His runner-up effort in the Remsen Stakes (G2) was impressive considering it was his first time going two turns. If he can improve, he might be one that can rise up the rankings.

14. Kid Corleone

Pros: Maiden win was impressive; Doug O’Neill

Cons: Progression needed after lone victory

Outlook: We’ll need to see him progress as we go along, but his recent maiden win was impressive, and O’Neill usually can get the most out of his horses.  

15. Trademark

Pros: Two wins over the Churchill Downs surface

Cons: Speed figures are low

Outlook: I’m on the fence with this guy until we see more. He certainly has proven to be classy, but can he break through and win a big race? 

16. Pappacap

Pros: Consistent runner; Grade 2 winner

Cons: Three clear losses when jumping up to the Grade 1 level

Outlook: He seems like the type that will hit the board in a lot of races, but might not be good enough to win one of the big ones.

17. Rockefeller

Pros: Distance pedigree; room to improve; Bob Baffert

Cons: Low speed figures; didn’t beat much in his stakes victory.

Outlook: He shipped to Aqueduct and won the Nashua Stakes (G3), which was a solid victory. He is back on the work tab at Santa Anita now.

18. Trafalgar 

Pros: Two impressive wins

Cons: Sprinter pedigree, speed figures are a tad low

Outlook: He seems like an up-and-comer who could make some noise, but distance is a bit of a question mark.

19. Sir London

Pros: Impressive maiden victory

Cons: Took 3 races to break his maiden

Outlook: He performed well in his first 3 starts but only won once, which is a little concerning.

20. Pinehurst

Pros: Bob Baffert; Grade 1 winner

Cons: Well-beaten in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1); low speed figures

Outlook: This guy suffered his first defeat at the Breeders’ Cup; however, this is one to keep an eye on as he could rebound off of that effort.

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