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2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/3/2022: Four Derby Preps Highlight Weekend of Racing
Un Ojo (Credit: Coady Photography)

2022 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/3/2022: Four Derby Preps Highlight Weekend of Racing

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 Risen Star Stakes (G2) at Fair Grounds:

1. Messier

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

Cons: Lost to Slow Down Andy; no recent workouts

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. 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. He’ll get a chance to prove it this weekend in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

4. 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.

5. 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.

6. White Abarrio

Pros: Only loss came to our second ranked horse; showed improvement in 2022 debut Holy Bull Stakes (G3) victory

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).

7. 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 be the San Felipe Stakes (G2) this weekend.

8. Simplification

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

Cons: Has been inconsistent; struggled out of the gate in last start

Outlook: He may have been the best horse in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3), but we’ll never know, after a bad break from the gate found him in last. He still ran well to recover and finish second in that race, though, and returns this weekend in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

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. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

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. In Due Time

Pros: Impressive victory last time; should be good going two-turns

Cons: No stakes experience; figures a smidge below the top ones

Outlook: Let’s see if this impressive allowance winner can crank it up a notch and successfully take on stakes company next time out. He looks ready to give it a try, reportedly in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2).

15. 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.

16. 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.

17. 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.

18. 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.

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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