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2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/3/2022: Newgrange Continues to Impress
Newgrange (Credit: Ernie Belmonte)

2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/3/2022: Newgrange Continues to Impress

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 latest list leading up to this weekend’s Southwest Stakes (G3) at Oaklawn Park:

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. We’ll seem in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds for his 2022 debut.

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. However, the level of competition that he has faced is still a little questionable.

3. Emmanuel

Pros: Solid debut effort at Gulfstream Park; followed up with an easy Tampa Bay allowance victory

Cons: Speed figure aren’t flashy; still no stakes experience

Outlook: This horse has looked ultra-impressive in both of his starts, and has the look of being Todd Pletcher’s best horse. Stakes company will definitely be next.

4. Epicenter

Pros: Three solid races in a row; has the early speed needed to be in position

Cons: Recent loss to a 28/1 shot in the Lecomte Stakes (G3)

Outlook: There is still a lot to like about this Steve Asmussen runner, despite the recent runner-up effort in the Lecomte Stakes (G3). He did the dirty work in that one, and should improve as the distances get longer.

5. Forbidden Kingdom

Pros: Very impressive win in the San Vicente Stakes (G2); tremendous trainer

Cons: Unproven around two turns

Outlook: There is no doubt this horse took a major step forward in his San Vicente Stakes (G2) victory. Now, he must show he can do that around two turns in his next challenge, which will likely be the San Felipe Stakes (G2).

6. Newgrange

Pros: Three straight wins; speed figures are close to what the top group has earned

Cons: Didn’t take a step forward in the Southwest Stakes (G3)

Outlook: There is nothing wrong with being three for three, but he didn’t look flashy in the Southwest Stakes (G3), even though it was a gritty win. He did not seem to like that track at all, which played a factor.

7. 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, which is an increasing concern with each passing week.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. American Icon 

Pros: Impressive debut victory, Todd Pletcher

Cons: Lack of experience, no races around two turns yet

Outlook: He was awesome on debut, but how will he do when he moves up the ladder? That will be the big question.

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11. 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).

12. 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.

13. 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 that time of year.

14. Call Me Midnight

Pros: Solid victory in the Lecomte Stakes (G3); Solid trainer

Cons: Several losses on the resume; running style

Outlook: He threw his name into the hat with an impressive victory in the Lecomte Stakes (G3); however, his running style of coming from behind will always leave him with a lot to do.

15. 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.

16. Pappacap

Pros: Consistent runner; Grade 2 winner

Cons: Four clear losses when running against solid competition

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. Until proven otherwise, that is how we’re going to label him.

17. Simplification

Pros: Earned solid speed figure in recent win; has a distance pedigree

Cons: Has been inconsistent; hasn’t faced much yet

Outlook: His impressive Mucho Macho Man Stakes victory puts him on the map; however, he must prove he can do it against better horses and around two turns.

18. Chasing Time

Pros: Impressive win going two turns; solid pedigree

Cons: Speed figures are still low

Outlook: He made a name for himself with an impressive win against allowance runners at Oaklawn Park. Now, he will likely go to the Rebel Stakes (G2), where he will have to prove he can do it against tougher competition.

19. Pinehurst

Pros: Only one loss; showed improvement in 2022 debut despite a loss

Cons: Two-turns still a major question mark.

Outlook: Even though he lost, his runner-up effort in the San Vicente Stakes (G2) was encouraging. Now, we need to see him do it going two-turns.

20. Doppelganger

Pros: Solid debut effort at Los Alamitos

Cons: Off the board finish against stakes horses

Outlook: This horse looked pretty professional on debut, sitting a little off the pace, and then pouncing late for an easy debut victory. However, he didn’t look nearly as good in the San Vicente Stakes (G2), but that race could have been a little short for him. He’s still a player until we see him around two-turns.

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