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2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/10/2022: The Picture Starts to Become Clear
Morello (Credit: Joe Labozzetta/NYRA)

2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/10/2022: The Picture Starts to Become Clear

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!

1. Messier

Pros: Multiple graded stakes winner; 103 Beyer in recent victory

Cons: Lost to Slow Down Andy

Outlook: He put up the first “wow” performance of the year when he come home victories in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) by 15-lengths. However, he’s trained by Baffert, so who knows if he’ll even be in the Kentucky Derby when all is said on done. Regardless, he set the standard with that victory, and they all have to prove they’re up to his level as of right now.

2. Epicenter

Pros: Four solid races in a row; improving with each race; 98 Beyer in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) is solid

Cons: Upset in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) by a 28-1 shot.

Outlook: He earned this spot after a gate to wire romp in the Risen Star Stakes (G2), where he was assigned a 98 Beyer for the effort. This Steve Asmussen has the early speed that it takes to win the Kentucky Derby (G1) and is the best of the horses currently eligible to run.

3. Forbidden Kingdom

Pros: Very impressive win in the San Vicente Stakes (G2); tremendous trainer; backed it up in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) going two turns

Cons: Hasn’t faced pace pressure yet

Outlook: He is now a major player after a dominant victory in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) going two-turns. He hasn’t face much pressure on the front end yet; however, with his elite early speed it’s going to take a good horse to run with him early. This might be the most talented eligible Derby contender.

4. Classic Causeway

Pros: Second in the Kentucky Jockey Club (G2), which is becoming a key race; impressive win in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3)

Cons: Speed figures still a tad low

Outlook: He put his early speed on display in a major way at Tampa Bay Downs in the Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3), going fast early and still having plenty of kick late. He is a primetime contender moving forward after that performance. It looks like we’ll see him this weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3).

5. White Abarrio

Pros: Only loss came to our second ranked horse; showed improvement in 2022 debut Holy Bull Stakes (G3) victory; Holy Bull runner up came back to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

Cons: All wins have come at Gulfstream Park.

Outlook: This colt stamped himself as a player with a pretty easy and dominant win in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) at Gulfstream Park. His early running style is what you need to win the Kentucky Derby (G1).

6. Smile Happy

Pros: Graded stakes victory over the Churchill Downs surface; horses he beat keep coming back and winning

Cons: Running style; recent loss in the Risen Star Stakes (G2)

Outlook: He suffered his first defeated in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) after what could be described as a questionable ride. Maybe he wouldn’t have beaten Epicenter on that day, but it would have been interesting to see what would have happened. He remains a player, and should move forward off of that effort.

7. Simplification

Pros: Won despite a poor trip in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2); has a distance pedigree; showed versatility in last two starts

Cons: Has been inconsistent; struggles out of the gate will cost him in a large field

Outlook: It’s very difficult to win as a closer going 1 1/16th at Gulfstream Park, but Simplification did it in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), after enduring yet another rough trip. That face he continues to show toughness is great; however, that trip in a 20 horse field will get dicey.

8. Morello

Pros: Perfect three for three; improving with each race; speed figures are competitive with the top horses

Cons: Never raced around two-turns; never races outside of Aqueduct

Outlook: Recent history has shown that the Aqueduct prep series has produced nothing, but this year looks like it could be different, with Morello showing great talent in his Gotham Stakes (G3) win. His beyer figure matched Simplifications Fountain of Youth win, and was just 2 points behind Forbidden Kingdom in the San Felipe Stakes. This guy is a player moving forward, but now must prove he can stretch out in distance.

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; third in 2022 debut 

Outlook: Even though he was third in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), that race was a little short for him, but should set him up well for his next start. He has a bit more talent than the other recent Remsen Stakes (G2) winners, so you need to take him seriously moving forward.

10. In Due Time

Pros: Impressive victory two starts back; solid second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2)

Cons: Figures still a bit low; saved ground and still was not competitive with the winner.

Outlook: He’s thrown his hat into the the ring, and seems to be developing with each start. He still needs to do some improving, though, as he has a better trip than the Fountain of Youth winner but was not close to defeating him.

11. Zandon

Pros: Solid in three starts so far; should continue to improve

Cons: Running style; only one victory so far

Outlook: This horse has the look of one that should improve, especially after a solid thir in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). However, his running style is always going to make it tougher for him to win a race like the Kentucky Derby (G1), so we’ll see if he can be more tactical in his next start.

12. Charge It

Pros: Extremely impressive maiden victory at Gulfstream Park

Cons: Lack of experience; timing isn’t ideal

Outlook: There is no doubt he became a major threat in this crop after an impressive maiden special weight victory at Gulfstream Park. However, he now must move right to a major prep race, which is not going to be an easy task.

13. Early Voting

Pros: Undefeated 2 for 2; win at 1 1/8 miles

Cons: Speed figures are low; no wins outside of Aqueduct

Outlook: His Withers Stakes (G3) victory was solid enough; however, he will have to step his game up when facing better competition.

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14. Secret Oath

Pros: Extremely impressive in last three starts; hasn’t been challenge this year

Cons: Hasn’t faced much; the obvious problem: she’s a filly!

Outlook: It’s nice to see D. Wayne Lukas with a potential star again, even if is a filly! She has been dominant in all her starts this year, and will likely be the favorite if she enters the Arkansas Derby (G1). However, at this point it is questionable whether she will be in that race.

15. Zozos

Pros: Perfect 2 for 2 so far; improved in his second start

Cons: Behind from a timing standpoint; will get one shot in a prep race

Outlook: Brad Cox looks to have a good one here after a dominating allowance victory at Oaklawn Park. He will likely get one shot at a prep race, which is the big problem, but he has the talent to make some noise.

16. Cyberknife

Pros: Solid recent speed figure in victory; has shown a high talent level

Cons: Still very green; bad loss against stakes company; will get one more shot at a prep

Outlook: This guy has shown the ability, and finally put it all together with an ultra-impressive allowance victory at Fair Grounds. Now, can he hold it together mentally in a stakes race, and build off of that impressive effort? That’s the major question mark.

17. Un Ojo

Pros: Nice win in the Rebel Stakes (G2)

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

Outlook: He’s in the Derby with a win in the Rebel Stakes (G2), while he was also second in the Withers Stakes (G3) two starts back. The competition level has been questionable, though, so we’ll see how he does against tougher company down the road.

18. Emmanuel

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

Cons: Didn’t step up in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) finishing fourth

Outlook: Literally nothing went right in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) for this horse, going 7-wide on both turns. Still, he had a chance to hit the board, but just kind of packed it in late. He will rebound off of that effort, but is he good enough? That’s the big question now.

19. Ethereal Road

Pros: Continues to improve with each start

Cons: Speed figures are low; hasn’t faced much; lost the lead late in the Rebel Stakes (G2).

Outlook: There is no doubt this horse needs to keep improving, but he’ll get every chance to do so under D Wayne Lukas. He also should get better as the distances get longer, which will obviously be to his benefit.

20. Barber Road

Pros: Has hit the board in three straight Derby prep events

Cons: Has had plenty of chances to win a prep race but hasn’t; speed figures are low

Outlook: He’s done a great job hitting the board in three straight preps; however, he has never been a real threat to win any of them. This is a consistent horse, though, and one that should be in the gate on the first Saturday in May.

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