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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.
Visit our Kentucky Derby page for the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more!
Pros: Five solid races in a row; improving with each race as distances get longer; 102 Beyer in the Louisana Derby (G2); showed he can rate and still be effective
Cons: Upset in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) by a 28-1 shot.
Outlook: This horse just keeps improving with each race, and is currently the leader in the clubhouse in my eyes with two weeks to go. There is no doubt a horse like Messier could take over the #1 spot on April 9, but as of right now, this would be my pick to win the Kentucky Derby (G1). His ability to rate off the speed, take dirt in his face, and still kick on to an easy Louisiana Derby (G2) victory was very impressive.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Epicenter
Pros: Multiple graded stakes winner; 103 Beyer in recent victory; now eligible for points with Tim Yakteen
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. Plus, he is now trained by Tim Yakteen, at least on paper, which means he will be eligible to earn points in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Messier
Pros: Only loss came to Smile Happy at age 2; showed improvement in 2022 debut Holy Bull Stakes (G3) victory; looked just as impressive in the Florida Derby (G1).
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, followed by another impressive victory in the Florida Derby (G1). His early running style is what you need to win the Kentucky Derby (G1), and he showed he can finish well despite a wide trip.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: White Abarrio
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. We’ll see him in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Forbidden Kingdom
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. The Blue Grass Stakes (G1) is next for him this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Smile Happy
Pros: Won despite a poor trip in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2); has a distance pedigree; showed versatility in three two starts
Cons: Has been inconsistent; struggles out of the gate will cost him in a large field; speed figures a bit low
Outlook: It’s very difficult to win as a closer going 1 1/16 miles at Gulfstream Park, but Simplification did it in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2), after enduring yet another rough trip. He had a better trip in the Florida Derby (G1), but was unable to defeat tougher horses, yet still has a shot to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby (G1) after showing toughness all year long.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Simplification
Pros: Solid recent speed figure in victory; has shown a high talent level; picked up first stakes win in the Arkansas Derby (G1)
Cons: Still very green even in his stakes win; inconsistent; was assigned a fairly low 92 Beyer speed figure for his victory
Outlook: It’s nice to see him coming together nicely with each race, which was put on display with a nice win in the Arkansas Derby (G1). He still has some improving to do to make an impact in Kentucky, but his early running style will put him in the game early.
Pros: Second in his first stakes effort; showed heart despite a less than ideal trip; room to improve
Cons: Was very green in the stretch of the Florida Derby (G1); asking him to do a lot in a little amount of time
Outlook: His Florida Derby (G1) effort was impressive, especially for his first match up against stakes company, but he was pretty green in the stretch. There is a lot to straighten out with him heading to Kentucky, and that will only be his fourth career start.
Pros: Improved again in his third start; running second to Epicenter is solid for his stakes debut
Cons: Lightly raced could lead to a tough trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1)
Outlook: Brad Cox looks to have a good developing horses here, who ran well to finish second in his stakes debut in the Louisiana Derby (G2). His early running style at least gives him a shot at making an impact in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Pros: Perfect 3 for 3 record; improving with each race; speed figures are competitive with the top horses
Cons: Never raced around two turns; never races outside of Aqueduct
Outlook: The Gotham Stakes (G3) winner is a player moving forward, but now must prove he can stretch out in distance this weekend in the Wood Memorial (G2).
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Morello
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 this weekend in the Wood Memorial (G2).
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Mo Donegal
Pros: Solid in 3 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 third 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 in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Zandon
Pros: Ultra-consistent in each start this year
Cons: Speed figures are low; hasn’t faced much; has failed to win all season long
Outlook: He looks to be your typical “hit the board” type that come running strongly at the end, but can’t finish the deal. Still, he has earned his way into the race, and might hit the board again with a good trip.
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. We’ll see him next weekend in the Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct this weekend.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Early Voting
Pros: Japan is dominating on a world stage
Cons: The UAE Derby winner has struggled in the Kentucky Derby (G1); his UAE Derby (G2) win looked slow visually
Outlook: He earned his shot by winning the UAE Derby (G2), but that race has not produced much as far as the Kentucky Derby (G1) goes. However, we’ll see what happens as the Japanese horses have been dominating as of late.
Pros: Consistent runner
Cons: Ran ok in both of his prep efforts at Fair Grounds but was never close to winning; speed figures are a cut below
Outlook: He’s earned his way into the Kentucky Derby (G1), but him making an impact would be a big surprise. He looks to be a cut below the top horses.
Pros: Has won two races in a row; earned a solid speed figure in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3)
Cons: Has not been good on the dirt; the Kentucky Derby (G1) is still run on the dirt
Outlook: If the surface changes to turf or synthetic before the first Saturday in May for the Kentucky Derby (G1), this horse has a big chance. If it doesn’t, it probably won’t go well for him.
Pros: He was able to win the Sunland Derby (G3)
Cons: Sunland Derby (G3) win was ugly; was defeated easily against tougher in the Risen Star Stakes (G2)
Outlook: This one looks like an easy toss. He did “earn” his way into the race with an ugly Sunland Derby (G3) victory, but this horse has a long ways to go.
Pros: Two impressive victories to kick off his 3-year-old season; solid running style for the Kentucky Derby
Cons: Complete no-show when facing tougher horses in the Florida Derby (G1)
Outlook: The Tampa Bay Derby (G2) winner had a disastrous Florida Derby (G1), as he was pressed early, fading to last. He will have to turn it around in a major way to have a shot.
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders: Classic Causeway
Pros: Nice win in the Rebel Stakes (G2)
Cons: Speed figures are low; he’s faced questionable competition; struggled in the Arkansas Derby (G1)
Outlook: He’s in the Derby with a win in the Rebel Stakes (G2) and a second in the Withers Stakes (G3). Nothing went right in the Arkansas Derby (G1), though, as he cut his shoulder after hitting the rail. Hopefully he recovers in time to run better in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
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