Kentucky Derby Day 2022 Preview, Profiles and Picks

FairwayJay chips in 2022 Kentucky Derby Day coverage with horse racing insight, profiles and picks.

Predictions and picks for racing on Kentucky Derby Day

The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is Saturday, May 7 and a huge graded stakes weekend starts Friday at Churchill Downs and includes the Kentucky Oaks. Seven big graded stakes races Friday lead into Derby Day Saturday with eight more big graded stakes headlined by the $3 million Kentucky Derby. 

For fans and bettors looking to bet the popular Oaks/Derby Double, the Kentucky Oaks is Race 11 at 5:51 p.m. ET on Friday, and the Kentucky Derby is Race 12 at 6:57 p.m. ET Saturday. 

20  Kentucky Derby piredictionsA quartet of top fillies will take a bulk of the the betting action in Friday's Kentucky Oaks, and chance of rain and thunderstorms is in the forecast adds to the potential for a sloppy track later in the day. Saturday will be cloudy but a very small chance of rain. Regardless, Derby Day will be one of the biggest racing days of the year, and this year's Kentucky Derby is filled with plenty of capable contenders and winners.

The media hype for the Derby adds to the interest, but the track takeout, or amount of money Churchill Downs keeps from the pari-mutuel wagering pools, dampens the interest for bettors that care more about value. The cost can be prohibitive when wagering on horse racing, and the reality is it's just a very difficult game to beat or win despite all the big exotic payouts and promotions. 

But speaking of promotions, sportsbook giant BetOnline is offering up a huge Kentucky Derby contest for bettors who can pick the first, and last Derby finisher. See the promo and a $20 bet on the Kentucky Derby makes you eligible for up to $10,000 in prize money with a BetOnline wagering account.


If you're betting the Kentucky Derby at leading online sportsbooks, be sure to check for fixed odds, or any pari-mutuel odds and offerings. Some sportsbooks, like BetOnline will also offer head-to-head horse match-ups for the Kentucky Derby and bigger races. 

Horse Betting and the Takeout and Risk

I've been providing content and covering the Kentucky Derby, major races and horse racing for years, as a number of leading sportsbooks and companies ask my to chip-in coverage. I make it clear that I am not a horse player, and I don't study past performance charts or videos. I'm not a regular horse bettor or handicapper, but truly a periodic recreational horse player. Yet, with a sports betting background and someone who seeks out value, my expertise in the sports betting field transfers my skills from the fields and courts to the race track.

Again, I'm not sure how horse players beat the game with such a heavy takeout. But like parlay bettors in sports chasing a bigger score, the exacta, trifecta, superfecta and Pick 3, 4, 5 pools drive the energy and action of bettors shooting for a bigger payday and payoff. There are gamblers who claim to have cracked the horse racing code, and others who have lost tens of millions.

And I'm not talking about 'Mattress Mack' losing more than $2 million on last year's Kentucky Derby or other major sporting events. Rather, read the sobering story of the man who created the TV series NYPD Blue and was co-producer of Hill Street Blues. Gambling on horse racing got the best of him, and he lost tens of millions of dollars, multi-million homes and more. 

Betting on the Kentucky Derby   

Whether you're wagering a few bucks or few hundred bucks or more, enjoy the Kentucky Derby and all the big races leading into the mega event. 

Since the Kentucky Derby went to a qualifying points system in 2013, favorites have really delivered in the Derby. I cashed in on the 2017 winner at nearly 5/1 odds with Always Dreaming, and multiple exacta scores when a 33/1 shot finished second for $336 exacta payoffs. My trifecta key is a story for another day, but lets just say it was what horse players dream about when a 40/1 bomb also finished third for a 50 cent trifecta payoff of more than $4,000. My trifecta ticket that missed was $44. 

I picked up an interest in horses racing while working at a horse track during the summers in college. My interest in the Kentucky Derby was further fueled in 1995, when I bet at an Off Track Betting (OTB) location in Chicago with friends and had a number of interested horses in a competitive Derby. I landed on 24/1 longshot Thunder Gulch to win, and he won the Kentucky Derby! Another horse player hooked, but my interest remains mild with the controversy, cheating and characters in the game, along with the hard takeout from the track. With recent years favorites winning the Derby at a greater rate the past decade, my mild betting and results on the Derby have not been too good. 

Churchill Downs Derby picksI have provided horse profiles on the Derby runners for FanDuel and other sites like numberFire, TVG, Forbes and Catena Media and PlayUSA platforms TheLines, Playfecta and others. Driving traffic and interest is part of the 'game', and the media hype including on the favorites like Zandon and Epicenter, or longshots like Smile Happy will hopefully have bettors smiling on Derby Day results.

I have fixed odds bets ahead of the Derby on Zandon at 15/1 and White Abarrio at 40/1. Again, recreational pizza or pizza slice bets that return hundreds, not thousands. But the horse I'm keying as part of exacta and trifecta bets is the deep closer breaking from the rail and No. 1 post, Mo Donegal. You can read more about Mo Dongeal and stablemate Charge It, both trained by leading trainer Todd Pletcher in my Kentucky Derby coverage for Forbes

Kentucky Derby Picks

Bet your interests to win, as I have Mo Donegal, Zandon, White Abarrio and may add a few more on Derby Day as I review more including the horses ahead of the Run for the Roses. That includes longshots Charge It and Smile Happy offering more value. 

A $1 exacta wheel - cost $18

#1 Mo Donegal on top and bottom of #3 Epicenter, #5 Smile Happy, #6 Messier, #8 Charge It, #9 Tiz the Bomb, #10 Zandon, #12 Taiba, #13 Simplification, #15 White Abarrio,

A 50 cent trifecta key - cost $44

#1 Mo Donegal to win with #3, #5, #6, #8, #9, #10, #12, #13 in second with #3, #5, #6, #8, #9, #10, #12, #13, #15, #16, #18, #19 in third. I'll add #21 if he draws into the race. 

Horse Racing Nation and other select handicapper groups provide me detailed analysis and picks, and I share some of the insight here. The Horse Racing Nation Super Screener Super 6 picks are top Derby favorites and contenders who meet specific profiles and speed figures that have helped identify Derby winners and in-the-money and exotic finishers include:

Messier, Zandon, Mo Donegal, Epicenter, Taiba, Smile Happy

The next rated horses behind those are Zozos, Charge It, Tiz the Bomb and Rich Strike if he draws into the race from the Also Eligible. 

History shows that 27 of the last 30 Kentucky Derby winners (90.0%) have entered the race with a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of at least 95. And 18 of the past 22 Kentucky Derby winners (81.8%) had a BRIS Speed Rating of at least 100 prior to the race.

The Beyer Speed Figure qualifiers are: Messier, Taiba, Epicenter, Zaddon, Zozos, White Abarrio, Mo Donegal and Simplification.
The BRIS Speed Rating qualifiers are: Mo Donegal, Taiba, Messier, Zandon, Epicenter, Smile Happy and Tiz the Bomb.

Other Derby Day Races and Picks 

Here are additional picks of interest for the undercard provided by Horse Racing Nation's Super Screener Picks and Profiles.

Friday's Kentucky Oaks -Top win contenders: 

Top Win Contenders 

#4 Nest (5-2)
#7 Echo Zulu (4-1)
#2 Nostalgic (15-1)
#10 Kathleen O. (7-2)

Top Longshots

#2 Nostalgic (15-1)
#8 Venti Valentine (20-1)


Race 5 - Distaff Turf Mile

Top Win Contenders

#7 In Italian (3-1)
#8 Speak of the Devil (2-1)
#5 Wakanaka (6-1) 

Most Reliable Board Hitter - #8 Speak of the Devil (2-1)
Top Value - #5 Wakanaka (6-1)

Race 6 - Knicks Go Stakes

Top Win Contenders

#7 South Bend (8-1)
#4 Dream Shake (5-2)
#2 Shared Sense (3-1)

Board hitter and longshot - #7 South Bend (8-1)

Race 7 - Pat Day Mile

Top Win Contenders

#11 My Prankster (4-1)
#2 Trademark (20-1)
#5 Jack Christopher (3-1)

Top Longshots

#2 Trademark (20-1)
#12 O Captain (20-1)
#9 Trafalgar (20-1) 

Race 8 - Derby City Distaff

Top Win Contenders

#2 Just One Time (3-1) (Boardhitter)
#1 Lady Rocket (5-1) (Top Value)
#5 Obligatory (7-2)

Race 9 - American Turf

Top Win Contenders

#7 Sy Dog (7-2) (Board hitter)
#6 Portfolio Company (9-2)
#11 Dowagiac Chief (10-1) (Top Value)
#5 Balnikhov (5-1)

Top Longshot

#8 Royal Spirit (15-1)

Race 10 - Churchill Downs Stakes

Top Win Contenders

#3 Jackie’s Warrior (5-2)
#5 Reinvestment Risk (7-2) (Board Hitter)
#6 Prevalence (6-1) (Top Value)

Race 11 - Turf Classic

Top Win Contenders

#4 Tribhuvan (5-1) (Top Value)
#8 Adhamo (9-2) (Board Hitter)
#2 Bizzee Channel (30-1)

Remember this. Horse racing is fun, exciting and tough to beat. When you consider the racing luck needed along with controversy, cheaters and characters of the game with the trainers that drug horses, like last year's Derby winner by suspended trainer Bob Baffert, it only adds the the already difficult hazards and rough in front of you when trying to beat the game and win at horse racing.

You can bet on it.

FairwayJay is a proven sports handicapper and chips in additional sports betting coverage and reporting on industry news and events. Read more great insights from FairwayJay and follow him on Twitter:@FairwayJay

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