Kentucky Derby Future Book 2022

Here we look at the top twelve contenders in the Kentucky Derby Future Book 2022, As the Kentucky Derby draws ever closer – just two weeks away now – we continue our examination of the big event, with an overview of the qualities needed by horse, trainer and rider to win America’s greatest race, and pen-pictures of the top dozen horses in the future book with details of how they got here and how they might move forward.

The 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is a difficult race for a relatively inexperienced three-year-old to handle. With 20 runners, it’s the biggest field they’ll ever encounter, never mind the possibility of being hung out wide in boxes 16-20, and the near-certainty of a rough race requires a horse with mental strength as well as physical prowess.

Such a large number of runners makes it hard for late closers to find the gaps they need, placing the emphasis on horses who have the tactical speed to gain a forward position. The guaranteed pace that was expected has diminished with the absence of front-runners Forbidden Kingdom and Classic Causeway, but they’re sure to go fast early as jockeys will want a clear shot at the clubhouse turn. Lose ground here, and it’s hard to get it back.

The main prep winners have historically been successful in the Derby. They have good recent form in the strongest contests, so in this year’s race the focus will fall on Epicenter, Taiba, Zandon, Mo Donegal and White Abarrio. Huge upsets are rare because the cream tends to rise to the top, but there’s often a longshot in the first four home, so careful scrutiny of the outsiders can pay dividends.

Big-name trainers and jockeys usually dominate, although without Bob Baffert this year there may be more scope for one of the little guys to make his mark. Many may not have heard of Tim Yakteen, but he’s a big name now because he has taken over the best of Baffert’s horses.

This year’s winner is extremely likely to be one of the dozen horses profiled below. There may be further withdrawals and additions before the final field is known on May 3.

Early Kentucky Derby Betting Prediction 

It’s a strong field without a stand-out favorite, and much of the predicted speed has fallen away. If he can get reasonable track position ZANDON will finish off his race better than most, and this tough cookie is peaking at exactly the right time. Simplification is the best of those at longer odds

Kentucky Derby Future Book 2022


Won G2 Louisiana Derby and this year’s key prep G2 Risen Star, both at the Fair Grounds; four-for-six lifetime, two-for-three 2022; has won at a mile and three-sixteenths; can set the fractions or press the pace and sees his races out well, giving him an ideal tactical profile for the Derby; very strong contender.


Won G1 Santa Anita Derby on just second start; unraced as juvenile, two-for-two 2022; no doubts about his class and likely to get the distance but huge question about his inexperience, and the California preps were not notably deep; needs everything to go right on the big day but certainly a major player.


Runner-up G1 Santa Anita Derby, won G3 Robert B Lewis, both at Santa Anita; three-for-six lifetime, one-for-two 2022; had no answer to barnmate in SA Derby and has looked weak in a finish; usually presses the pace so no concerns about track position but others may well be stronger in the closing stages.


Won G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland, third in key prep G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds; two-for-four lifetime, one-for-two 2022; produced remarkable stretch run at Keeneland and well on top at the wire; tough sort and likely to stay; if can maintain a good position in the opening half-mile will be finishing better than most.

Mo Donegal

Won G2 Wood Memorial at Aqueduct, third G3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park; three-for-five lifetime, one-for-two 2022; no shortage of stamina after needing whole of Aqueduct stretch to put away front-runner; could lack early tactical speed but is tough and has plenty of class and will be doing his best work late.

White Abarrio

Won G1 Florida Derby and G3 Holy Bull at Gulfstream Park, all wins have been at the Miami circuit; four-for-five lifetime, two-for-two 2022; has overcome issues before last two starts and could do even better with a clear build-up; likes to stalk the pace and should be comfortable stretching out to Derby distance.

Smile Happy

Runner-up G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland and key prep G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds; two-for-four lifetime, winless 2022; good form at two, needed race on comeback but then put in his place by Zandon at Keeneland despite better track position; may move up for extra furlong but no recent win is a problem.

Charge It

Runner-up G1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park on stakes debut; unraced last year, one-for-three 2022; game effort at Gulfstream and nearest finish but no threat to the winner; lack of experience could be a problem and likely to be overbet owing to reputation and top trainer, also not barn’s first choice.


Won G1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park; three-for-six lifetime, two-for-three 2022; finally justified big reputation at Oaklawn with stalking trip and decisive finish, although it wasn’t the strongest of preps; hasn’t achieved as much as other leading fancies and may struggle in hustle and bustle of a big field.


Won G2 Fountain of Youth, third G1 Florida Derby, both at Gulfstream Park, has never run anywhere else; three-for-seven lifetime, two-for-four 2022; has improved since tactical change away from pure front-running and has the versatility to get good track position in usual helter-skelter Derby; one of the better longshots.

Tiz The Bomb

Won G3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on a synthetic surface at Turfway Park, runner-up G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf at Del Mar; five-for-eight lifetime, two-for-three 2022; strong performance at Turfway but appears better on synthetics and turf than he is on the main track, a major issue; has class but trainer’s second-string.


Runner-up G2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on stakes debut; unraced last year, two-for-three 2022; big performance when tried to make all in New Orleans but easily put away by high-class winner; should get good track position and stays well, improvement highly likely; arguably powerful barn’s best chance.

HorseTrainerJockey PointsOdds by JazzSports
EpicenterSteve AsmussenJoel Rosario164+350
TaibaTim YakteenMike Smith100+800
MessierTim YakteenJohn Velazquez40+650
ZandonChad BrownFlavien Prat114+350
Mo DonegalTodd PletcherIrad Ortiz112+1100
White AbarrioSaffie JosephTyler Gaffalione112+1100
Smile HappyKenny McPeekCorey Lanerie70+2000
Charge ItTodd PletcherLuis Saez40+1800
CyberknifeBrad CoxFlorent Geroux100+2000
Simplification Antonio SanoJose Ortiz74+2400
Tiz The BombKenny McPeekBrian Hernandez110+3300
ZozosBrad CoxFlorent Geroux40+2200

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