Expert Picks: Who Will Win the 2022 Kentucky Derby

The horses in the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby are listed in order of post position, with comments by Joe Drape and Melissa Hoppert of The New York Times. The morning-line odds were set by Mike Battaglia of Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

How to watch: Coverage begins Saturday at noon, Eastern time, on USA Network, and will continue on NBC at 2:30 p.m. It will also be streamed on

Post time: 6:57 p.m.

Purse: $3 million guaranteed

Distance: 1¼ miles

Track record: 1:59⅖ (Secretariat, 1973)

Weight: 126 pounds

Our Picks

Joe Drape’s win-place-show picks: Smile Happy, Crown Pride, Mo Donegal

Melissa Hoppert’s picks: Epicenter, Messier, Zandon

Here’s how we see the field:

The Kentucky Derby entrant Mo Donegal is a son of Uncle Mo, who has produced a Derby winner.Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

1. Mo Donegal

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr. Odds: 10-1

Drape: This colt was my pick until he got the No. 1 hole. It is extremely difficult to navigate a clean trip from this spot, especially for a closer like Mo.

Hoppert: He has finished in the money in all five starts and turned heads with an impressive rally in the Wood Memorial. He’s also a son of Uncle Mo, who has already produced a Derby winner (Nyquist in 2016) and who has a leading jockey on his back.

2. Happy Jack

Trainer: Doug O’Neill Jockey: Rafael Bejarano Odds: 30-1

Drape: My son’s name is Jack, and he is happy. He can do what he wants with his allowance.

Hoppert: The Calumet homebred finished third in two Santa Anita prep races but was never a factor. He won’t be at the Derby, either.

3. Epicenter

Trainer: Steve Asmussen Jockey: Joel Rosario Odds: 7-2

Drape: Here’s your likely post-time favorite, and I cannot blame anyone who bets on him. But he is not a lock.

Hoppert: I’ll take my chances. This winner of four of six races, including three preps in Louisiana, has a lot going for him: a versatile running style, a top jockey and a Hall of Fame trainer who is long overdue in adding the Run for the Roses to his résumé.

Summer Is Tomorrow was the second-place finisher in the U.A.E. Derby.Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

4. Summer Is Tomorrow

Trainer: Bhupat Seemar Jockey: Mickael Barzalona Odds: 30-1

Drape: He has two wins in Dubai. This race is a big step up from those.

Hoppert: The second-place finisher in the U.A.E. Derby was bred by the former Kentucky governor Brereton C. Jones. He’ll come out running Saturday, but he won’t be around at the finish.

5. Smile Happy

Trainer: Kenny McPeek Jockey: Corey Lanerie Odds: 20-1

Drape: He won here as a 2-year-old, and McPeek knows how to point them at big races. My pick.

Hoppert: He turned heads during his 2-year-old season, but he has finished second in two starts this year. A real question mark.

Messier is trained by Tim Yakteen.Credit…Ashley Landis/Associated Press

6. Messier

Trainer: Tim Yakteen Jockey: John Velazquez Odds: 8-1

Drape: A seasoned sort who was beaten by his stablemate Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby.

Hoppert: You know what they say: Never count out a Bob Baffert — er, Tim Yakteen — horse. (Yakteen is Baffert’s former assistant.) Messier has finished first or second in all six of his starts and has a solid chance to become only the third Canada-bred to win the Derby. I’m chalking up his Santa Anita Derby showing to the two months between races.

7. Crown Pride

Trainer: Koichi Shintani Jockey: Christophe Lemaire Odds: 20-1

Drape: Japanese horses have won big races in Saudi Arabia and Dubai, so why not here? This one has been touting himself training in the morning.

Hoppert: The first-place finisher in the U.A.E. Derby is definitely the buzz horse on the backside, and not only for his lightning-fast works: He warms up by prancing in circles like a dressage horse.

Charge It during morning training for the Kentucky Derby this week.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images

8. Charge It

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Luis Saez Odds: 20-1

Drape: A lightly raced and talented gray. Looks like Pletcher is sitting on a good one.

Hoppert: The runner-up in the Florida Derby has raced only three times, but he has shown promise, and with a clean trip can improve.

9. Tiz the Bomb

Trainer: Kenny McPeek Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr. Odds: 30-1

Drape: He has won five of eight, but his best running has been done on a synthetic surface.

Hoppert: The last time he ran on dirt he finished seventh, and with rain in the forecast, you should look elsewhere.

Zandon arrives at the Kentucky Derby with a hot jockey and a trainer looking for his first Derby win.Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

10. Zandon

Trainer: Chad Brown Jockey: Flavien Prat Odds: 3-1

Drape: Another horse who has looked great in morning training. He runs from the back, a style that has not paid off in recent editions.

Hoppert: You can’t miss this nearly jet-black horse on the racetrack, and you shouldn’t overlook him at the betting window, either. Paired with a red-hot jockey, this speedy Blue Grass Stakes winner gives his successful trainer his best chance yet to notch a Derby victory.

11. Pioneer of Medina

Trainer: Todd Pletcher Jockey: Joe Bravo Odds: 30-1

Drape: He is a solid racehorse and will win down the road. Not here.

Hoppert: This will be the fifth racetrack and seventh jockey for the third-place finisher in the Louisiana Derby. Pass.

Tim Yakteen in his barn with Taiba.Credit…Ashley Landis/Associated Press

12. Taiba

Trainer: Tim Yakteen Jockey: Mike Smith Odds: 12-1

Drape: Theundefeated colt istrying to win after two dazzling starts, a feat accomplished only evvel, by a horse named Leonatus in 1883.

Hoppert: His owner pushed to enter him in the Santa Anita Derby with only one race under his belt, a risk that paid off. But with so little experience, can he flash the same talent against 19 other horses? Smith, his rider, is well seasoned, though: At 56, he would become the oldest jockey to win a Derby.

13. Simplification

Trainer: Antonio Sano Jockey: Jose Ortiz Odds: 20-1

Drape: Two others ran by him in the Florida Derby. He would be a surprise.

Hoppert: All of his races have been at Gulfstream Park, and he’s not as fast as many of his counterparts.

Barber Road is owned by the former chief executive of Walmart, who purchased him for $15,000.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images

14. Barber Road

Trainer: John Ortiz Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez Odds: 30-1

Drape: A hard-trying colt who has a case of seconditis — four runner-up finishes.

Hoppert: The second-place finisher in the Arkansas Derby hasn’t won this year, but his story is a winner: This is the first Derby for his trainer, his jockey and his owner, the former chief executive of Walmart, William Simon, who purchased him for $15,000. How’s that for everyday low pricing?

15. White Abbario

Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr. Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione Odds: 10-1

Drape: This gray has won four of five and proved himself as the best horse in Florida.

Hoppert: The Florida Derby winner’s only loss came at Churchill Downs.

Cyberknife comes to the Derby after back-to-back wins.Credit…Andy Lyons/Getty Images

16. Cyberknife

Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Florent Geroux Odds: 20-1

Drape: This is a champion trainer bringing a colt in off back-to-back wins. Respect.

Hoppert: With a convincing victory in the Arkansas Derby, he stamped himself as the best of Cox’s trio. He’ll also be a sentimental pick: He’s named after a treatment forcancer.

17. Classic Causeway

Trainer: Brian Lynch Jockey: Julien Leparoux Odds: 30-1

Drape: Which Classic Causeway do we get? The dominant Tampa Derby champion, or the colt who spun his wheels in the Florida Derby? Your guess is as good as mine.

Hoppert: He’ll be running early but is definitely a question mark after finishing last in the Florida Derby.

This will be Tawny Port’s third race in five weeks.Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

18. Tawny Port

Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Ricardo Santana Jr. Odds: 30-1

Drape: He has the look of a good one, but this is too much too soon.

Hoppert: Named after a style of Portuguese wine, he has won on dirt and synthetics, and the Derby will be his third race in five weeks. Does he have anything left in the bottle?

19. Zozos

Trainer: Brad Cox Jockey: Manny Franco Odds: 20-1

Drape: He will be running early, but so will a lot of others. Not this time.

Hoppert: The talented but lightly raced Louisiana Derby runner-up is named for the owner’s favorite restaurant in the Virgin Islands.

Ethereal Road has won only evvel in seven tries.Credit…Charlie Riedel/Associated Press

20. Ethereal Road

Trainer: D. Wayne Lukas Jockey: Luis Contreras Odds: 30-1

Drape: He has won only evvel in seven tries, but his Hall of Fame trainer believes that if you’re in it, you have a chance to win it.

Hoppert: He’s the 50th Derby starter for the 86-year-old Lukas, who has won this race four times. If he were to pull off another, it would be perhaps his most improbable accomplishment yet, especially from Post 20.

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