This Saturday, the best trainers in America will be pitting their horses against each other at the Kentucky Derby in Louisville, Kentucky. Yet, one regular will be missing: Bob Baffert.

The six-time Derby winner is serving a two-year ban after his horse Medina Spirit (last year’s Kentucky Derby winner) tested positive for a banned substance. As a result, Baffert’s horse, who died in December 2021, was stripped of the title and given to Mandaloun.

So with Baffert not entering, Vegas oddsmakers have made Epicenter the favorite to win the 148th edition of the Derby.

Learn more about top contenders and get the latest odds for the Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2022 – Key Info

  • When: May 7
  • Location: Churchill Downs Racetrack, Louisville, Kentucky, USA
  • Distance: 1.25 miles (2.315km)
  • Surface: dirt
  • Weather: cloudy, 56-65 degrees, 7% chance of rain at time of race,- according to Accuweather
  • Prize purse: $3,000,000

Could Taiba Finish First?

Although Taiba has less experience than the other Kentucky Derby top contenders, his two 100+ Beyer Speed figures put him in good stead.

Horses that have recorded scores above 100 according to this system designed by legendary Washington Post racing columnist Andy Beyer have performed well in the race at Churchill Downs.

Past Kentucky Derby Entrants with 100+ Beyer Speed Figures:

  • 2018 – Justify 107.101.104 – 1st
  • 2015 – American Pharoah 105.100 – 1st
  • 2015 – Firing Line – 103.104 – 2nd
  • 2015 – Dortmund – 106.104.104 – 3rd
  • 2015 – Materiality – 110.102 – 6th
  • 2014 – California Chrome – 107.108 – 1st
  • 2012 – Bodemeister – 108.101.101 – 2nd

Despite only racing twice, he won each one – most recently by 2 ¼ lengths in the Santa Anita Derby. As only one other horse has won the Kentucky Derby in his third career start, not many bettors will back Taiba. But if you consider his speed rating and recent record, maybe he has more of a chance than Vegas oddsmakers think.

…Mike Smith hopes to become the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby at 56.

Jockey Mike Smith also believes that inexperience won’t count for much if he has a good trip. This Saturday, “Money” Mike Smith hopes to become the oldest jockey to win the Kentucky Derby at 56. As he captured the Triple Crown aboard Justify in 2018, he could make history this weekend.

As the jockey is working alongside trainer Tim Yakteen, who has more than 250 career victories and purse earnings of over $12 million, betting on Taiba to win looks great value.

Is Wagering on Epicenter To Place a Better Option?

Trainer Steve Asmussen is the biggest winner in the US. He has secured victories in Triple Crown races on three occasions: twice in the Preakness (Curlin in 2007, Rachel Alexandra in 2009) and one Belmont (in 2016 with Creator). His horse Epicenter has been given the #3 post. Because this forces the horse to be more aggressive, it could be a favorable position for the horse mounted by Joel Rosario.

If the track conditions are poor because of the weather, Joel Rosario will likely have to come out of that first turn at the top of the pack – something that could be more than challenging. Therefore, many experts expect him to finish just shy of the top spot.

Zandon to Win Unlikely

Although the odds at top betting sites suggest that Zandon has a decent chance of doing well, trainer Chad Brown doesn’t have the best Kentucky Derby record: only Good Magic has finished in the money out of the trainer’s six previous entries (2018).

Also, as Zandon hasn’t proven his pedigree and is starting from the #10 post – a position that has only produced nine Derby winners – the colt doesn’t look likely to win.

Want to learn more about betting odds? Check out our odds calculator page to get the lowdown.

Ben Perks

Ben began his journalism career over ten years ago. Since then, he's hacked away at his keyboard to produce articles for various publications, struggled to call football soccer, and cut off his hair to hide the fact he's going grey.