Kentucky Derby 2022: Zandon installed as 3-1 favorite; second-choice Epicenter gets tough post

Horse Racing: 147th Kentucky Derby
May 1, 2021; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; The field leaves the starting gate during the 147th running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Mandatory Credit: Jordan Prather-USA TODAY Sports

Linesmakers made Zandon the 3-1 favorite in Saturday’s 148th running of the Kentucky Derby after Monday’s post position draw.

Trained by Chad Brown and ridden by Flavien Prat, Zandon will break from the 10 post on May 7 after a resounding victory from off the pace in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland back on April 9. The middle-of-the-pack post could give cause for concern about traffic troubles, but Zandon does his best running later rather than early in the race, so he’ll figure to sit back in first quarter-mile.

While Zandon may have gotten an ideal post position, the same could not be said for Epicenter, the Louisiana Derby winner trained by Steve Asmussen and ridden by Joel Rosario who had been expected to be the favorite in the first leg of the Triple Crown.

Set as the 7-2 second choice, Epicenter will break from the 3 post near the rail, a spot notorious for traffic troubles in large-field Derbies; no horse has won from that post since Real Quiet took the “run for the roses” back in 1998.

Epicenter is one of just three Kentucky Derby entrants with a triple-digit Beyer speed figure, a statistic often tied to recent success in the big race. Epicenter got a 102 Beyer figure in his Louisiana Derby win on April 9.

The other two horses with triple-digit Beyer figures come out of the April 9 Santa Anita Derby in California. Taiba won the race in just his second career start, earning a 102 Beyer figure after getting a 103 Beyer figure in his debut race in March. He will break from the 12 post Saturday under jockey Mike Smith for trainer Tim Yakteen.

Set with 12-1 morning line odds, Taiba is also chasing an incredible historical feat; no horse has won the Kentucky Derby in just their third career start since Leonatus did it all the way back in 1883, when Chester A. Arthur was president.

Local Rangers fans might like the horse that finished second to Taiba in the Santa Anita Derby: Messier, who posted a 103 Beyer during a dominant victory in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes earlier this year. The 8-1 third choice in the field is named for the captain who led the Rangers to their 1994 Stanley Cup victory will be ridden by John Velazquez this Saturday.

Like Taiba, Messier is trained by Yakteen — who received both horses prior to the Santa Anita Derby from former trainer Bob Baffert, who has been banned from Churchill Downs this year after the 2021 Derby champion he trained, Medina Spirit, tested positive for a banned substance.

Last year’s Belmont Stakes-winning trainer, Brad Cox, is bringing three horses to the Kentucky Derby — all of them breaking from the outside. They include Cyberknife (post 16), the Arkansas Derby winner ridden by Florent Geroux, at 20-1; Tawny Port (post 18), the Lexington Stakes winner with Ricardo Santana jr. in the saddle at 30-1; and Zozos (post 19), the Louisiana Derby runner-up ridden by Manny Franco, at 20-1.

Other notables in the Kentucky Derby field include Mo Donegal, winner of the Wood Memorial Stakes at Aqueduct Racetrack in Queens, who drew the 1 post at 10-1 odds; Crown Pride, the Japanese-based horse who won the UAE Derby in Dubai, breaking from the 7 post at 20-1; White Abarrio, the Florida Derby winner whose only loss in his career came at Churchill Downs last November, drew the 15 post at 10-1; and Etherial Road, who made the Derby field Monday after Un Ojo withdrew from contention. At 30-1 odds and breaking from the outside 20 post, Etherial Road is trained by the 86-year-old Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas.

Post time for the Kentucky Derby is at 5:57 p.m. this Saturday, May 7. NBC will air the big race live.

Odds set by Churchill Downs