The first Saturday of May has arrived and that means it’s Kentucky Derby Day. It should be a very exciting two minutes of action as 20 horses take to the track for the 148th Run for the Roses.
As I’ve written about in the past, the Kentucky Derby is a must-attend event. However, if you’re having your own Derby Party I’ve got some helpful tips. Wagering on the race always makes it fun. For some of you beginners, here is a helpful list of some horse racing betting basics to help get you started.
If you choose to bet some exotics wagers (Exacta, Trifecta, Superfecta etc.), this is the day to do it as the prices are generally high given the fact the field is as large as you’ll see with 20 horses breaking from the starting gate.
Weather has been a factor recently in six of the last 13 races on sloppy tracks. Mother Nature may shake up the odds this weekend with heavy rain rocking the region for the past couple of days.
In a race with so many horses, a wet, sloppy track can put horses toward the back of the pack at somewhat of a disadvantage because of all the mud getting thrown up from the horses in front of them. That said, the rain has mostly moved out and the track drains amazingly so I am projecting it to be a fast track by the time we get to Race 12 today.
Let’s first take a look at the full slate of horses on tap to be in the race:
1 Mo Donegal (Todd Pletcher, Irad Ortiz Jr.) 10-1
2 Happy Jack (Doug O’Neill, Rafael Bejarano) 30-1
3 Epicenter (Steve Asmussen, Joel Rosario) 7-2
4 Summer Is Tomorrow (Bhupat Seemar, Mickael Barzalona) 30-1
5 Smile Happy (Kenny McPeek, Corey Lanerie) 20-1
6 Messier (Tim Yakteen, John Velazquez) 8-1
7 Crown Pride (Koichi Shintani, Christophe Lemaire) 20-1
8 Charge It (Todd Pletcher, Luis Saez) 20-1
9 Tiz the Bomb (Kenny McPeek, Brian Hernandez Jr.) 30-1
10 Zandon (Chad Brown, Flavien Prat) 3-1
11 Pioneer of Medina (Todd Pletcher, Joe Bravo) 30-1
12 Taiba (Tim Yakteen, Mike Smith) 12-1
13 Simplification (Antonio Sano, Jose Ortiz) 20-1
14 Barber Road (John Ortiz, Reylu Gutierrez) 30-1
15 White Abarrio (Saffie Joseph Jr., Tyler Gaffalione) 10-1
16 Cyberknife (Brad Cox, Florent Geroux) 20-1
17 Classic Causeway (Brian Lynch, Julien Leparoux) 30-1
18 Tawny Port (Brad Cox, Ricardo Santana Jr.) 30-1
19 Zozos (Brad Cox, Manny Franco) 20-1
20 Ethereal Road (D. Wayne Lukas, Luis Contreras) 30-1 – SCRATCHED
21 Rich Strike (Eric R. Reed, Sonny Leon) – 99-1
Here’s a look at the horses that pop out to me in the field:
#3 Epicenter (7/2): I like the fact that he has already won a race over the track when he broke his maiden here back in November with Joel Rosario on board. The jockey has ridden the colt to three wins in his four mounts. This might be legendary trainer Steve Assmussen’s best shot at the Kentucky Derby yet.
#10 Zandon (3/1): This horse checks all the boxes for me and it is not surprising that Mike Battagila anointed him as the early morning-line favorite. The way he fought off the challenge late in the Bluegrass Stakes last month at Keeneland convinced me. Flavein Prat was on board that day and will become the first jockey to ride this horse twice here.
#15 White Abario (10/1): For those of you that have been tracking my picks for years already know that the Florida Derby winner almost always makes this part of my list and this year will be no exception. However, with White Abario it is more than that. He’s never finished out of the money and just keeps getting better every time out. Tyler Gaffalione has never won the Kentucky Derby, but he’ll have a strong shot here. He presents the best value of all my top choices and for that reason will be the horse I bet to win.
NEXT ON MY LIST
#5 Smile Happy (20/1): Smile Happy is another horse that has a win over the track and battled admirably to a second-place finish to Zandon in the Bluegrass Stakes. He presents a ton of value based on his impressive resume.
#12 Tabia (12/1): He did not race as a two year old and no horse that had that resume has ever won a Kentucky Derby. However, while inexperienced Tabia has been impressive The “previously” Bob Baffert trained horse won the Santa Anita and no horse in the field boasted a better speed rating in their last race than that effort.
#16 Cyberknife (20/1): This is the best of the Brad Cox horses and he’s coming off his best-ever effort in the Arkansas Derby. His running style fits this setup and I like the price tag.
OTHERS TO CONSIDER
#1 Mo Donegal (10/1)
#6 Messier (8/1)
#8 Charge It (20/1)
#9 Tiz the Bomb (30/1)
#13 Simplification (20/1)
DIDN’T MAKE THE CUT
#7 Crown Pride
#14 Barber Road
#18 Tawny Point
#2 Happy Jack
#4 Summer is Tomorrow
#11 Pioneer of Medina
#17 Classic Causeway
#21 Rich Strike
I like doing a Tri-Wheel each year that keys a few horses on top with about half the field on the bottom in third place. I have posted this Tri-wheel on GetSportsInfo.com every year since I launched the website in 2003. It has hit six times in those 19 years, but it has been a few years since it last hit.
I would have had it in 2019 had Maximum Security not been wrongfully taken down due to an objection. In 2020, I had all of the horses, but just missed as I only had the winner, Authentic, to finish second and third.
During my span of posting these picks the average $1 Tri paid $5,171.43. My two best hits came in 2003 (Funny Cide) and 2010 (Super Saver). Last year’s $1 Tri paid $848.45.
In addition to my Tri wheel, I’ve picked the winner eight times in 19 years and had the exacta seven times as well. Let’s see if we can add to the winnings in 2022 and get back on track!
Here are my picks:
$10 WP – #15 White Abario (10/1)
$2 EX Wheel – 3,10,15 / 3, 5, 9, 10, 15, 16 (total $30 – you can drop to $1 EX box and only pay $15 for bet)
$1 Tri Wheel
(total $135 – you can drop it down to $0.50 Tri wheel and only pay $67.50)
3, 5, 9, 10, 15, 16 with…
1, 3, 5, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 13, 15, 16