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2022 Kentucky Derby Picks – Our Expert Picks

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The country’s finest three-year-olds will battle for Kentucky Derby glory at Churchill Downs on May 7. Racebooks have already released odds on “The Run for the Roses,” and Kentucky Derby picks are in high demand.

This page will provide Kentucky Derby expert picks on the race winner, along with picks for exotic markets such as the exacta and trifecta. You will find the best available Kentucky Derby odds at leading racebooks and learn more about betting on this eagerly anticipated race.

2022 Kentucky Derby Favorites

Epicenter is the current favorite in the Kentucky Derby odds after blowing his rivals away in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby last month. However, he is expected to face stern competition from the likes of Messier, White Abarrio, and Forbidden Kingdom. These are the odds on the main contenders available at the top betting sites:

Horse BetOnline XBet MyBookie BetUS Bovada BUSR
Epicenter +500 +500 +500 +450 +300 +500
Zandon +500 +550 +550 +500 +500 +550
Taiba +700 +550 +550 +750 +600 +550
Messier +800 +600 +600 +900 +700 +600
White Abarrio +1000 +1025 +1025 +1150 +1200 +1025
Mo Donegal +1200 +1230 +1230 +900 +1100 +1230
Smile Happy +1600 +1635 +1635 +1700 +1600 +1635
Charge It +1600 +1415 +1415 +1350 +1200 +1415
Crown Pride +2500 +1500 +1500 +2800 +2000 +1635
Cyberknife +2200 +1840 +1840 +2000 +1600 +1840
Simplification +2500 +2600 +2600 +2100 +2200 +2600
Zozos +2500 +3120 +3120 +2200 +3300 +3120
Tiz The Bomb +3300 +3120 +3120 +2700 +2800 +3120
Pioneer Of Medina +4000 +4050 +4050 +3100 +3300 +4050
Barber Road +3300 +3700 +3700 +3600 +4000 +3700
Classic Causeway +3300 +3300 +3300 +3300 +4000 +3300
Tawny Port +3300 +5500 +5500 +3500 +5000 +5500
Happy Jack +6600 +7500 +7500 +6000 +6600 +7500
Summer Is Tomorrow +6600 +9000 +9000 +6500 +6600 +9000
Ethereal Road +6600 +5500 +5500 +6100 +6600 +5500

Basketball Insiders’ Kentucky Derby Expert Picks

We have analyzed every Kentucky Derby contender in exhaustive detail. These are our Kentucky Derby expert picks:

Our Kentucky Derby Pick to Win

We are going for Epicenter to finally end Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen’s long Kentucky Derby drought this year. The legendary horseman is 0-for-23 in the Derby, the longest active drought on record, but he has a great chance of ending it, based on our Kentucky Derby 2022 picks.

Only two Kentucky Derby contenders have posted a higher Beyer Speed Figure this year than the 102 that Epicenter earned. Messier and Taiba have each earned a 103, but Taiba could struggle when taking on a far larger field than he has ever faced, while Messier finished second to Taiba at the Santa Anita Derby.

Epicenter smashed the track record when making it three from four starts at Fair Grounds in the Louisiana Derby on his last appearance. This colt by Iroquois winner Not This Time has certainly built on successes in the Gun Runner and Risen Star at the New Orleans track.

He looks capable of thriving over the Kentucky Derby distance, and we currently have him at the top of our 2022 Kentucky Derby picks.

Our top pick: 

  • Epicenter to win the Kentucky Derby @ +700 with BetOnline
  • A $10 bet would win $70

Epicenter tops our Kentucky Derby picks

Kentucky Derby Top 3 Picks

Our top 3 picks for the Kentucky Derby are Epicenter, Charge It and Mo Donegal. We like Charge It, who has one win and two runner-up finishes from three starts in his nascent career. He impressed when finishing second to White Abarrio in the Florida Derby on April 2. Charge It appears to be on an upward curve, and he could be dangerous.

Mo Donegal won the Wood Memorial on his second start of the year. He is a closer, and we expect him to come on strong in the final stages of the Kentucky Derby and finish in the top three. Trainer Todd Pletcher has saddled two previous winners in the race. Mo Donegal could be in contention if he works through traffic in the closing stages.

You can bet on a horse to finish in the top two of the Kentucky Derby, which is known as a place bet. Alternatively, you can bet on a horse to finish in the top three, which is known as the show. Another option is to place an across the board bet – which involves backing a horse on the win, place and show.

Our picks: 

  • Charge It to win the Kentucky Derby @ +1400 with Bovada
  • Mo Donegal to win the Kentucky Derby @ +2800 with BetOnline

Kentucky Derby Longshot Picks

Un Ujo is an intriguing prospect for anyone handicapping the Kentucky Derby. He has always been a long-shot in the Kentucky Derby futures, but this popular one-eyed gelding has the potential to cause an upset.

He looked capable of getting on the board in the Arkansas Derby before Barber Road slammed him against the rail. If he enjoys a cleaner trip at Churchill Downs, he could delight horse racing fans by defying expectations.

Early Voting is another interesting longshot in the Kentucky Derby 2022 picks. He was narrowly second to Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial. Only two contenders – Taiba and Messier – have earned a higher Timeform US Speed Figure than Early Voting.

Our picks: 

  • Early Voting to win the Kentucky Derby @ +2500 with BetOnline
  • Un Ujo to win the Kentucky Derby @ +6600 with BetOnline

Kentucky Derby Exotic Picks

The Kentucky Derby is the most important horse racing event of the year, so everyone is looking for picks. Most of them focus on the race winner, but you may also be interested in exotic picks. The term “exotic” covers all markets apart from the win, place and show, such as the exacta, trifecta, superfecta, quinella, and so on.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Exacta Picks

We are going for Epicenter to finish ahead of Charge It in our Kentucky Derby exacta picks. An exacta requires you to predict the race winner and the runner-up in that exact order – hence the name. You can alternatively go for a quinella, where you pick the top two in any order.

Epicenter and Charge It are both exciting contenders for this race, but we can see Epicenter ultimately being too classy for the field. He should relish the trip and hold off his rivals, including Charge It.

Our picks: 

  • 1st: Epicenter @ +700 with BetOnline
  • 2nd: Charge It @ @ +1600 with Bovada

Exactas can result in large payouts, so bettors often keep their bet amounts relatively low. We will not know how much the exacta pays until the dividend is revealed after the race. As an example, a $2 exacta paid out $503.60 on last year’s Kentucky Derby.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Trifecta Picks

We have Epicenter, Charge It and Mo Donegal in our Kentucky Derby 2022 trifecta picks. It is notoriously difficult to make Kentucky Derby trifecta picks, and it requires leaving out a lot of highly-rated contenders.

For example, to compile this trifecta, we need to exclude the likes of Taiba, Messier, Zandon and Early Voting. Yet we believe these three horses stand a strong chance of dominating the race.

A trifecta requires you to pick the winner, the runner-up and the third-place horse in that exact order. You can alternatively go for a boxed trifecta to hedge your bets a little.

Our picks: 

The trifecta payout will be revealed at the end of the race, depending on who finishes in the top three. Last year, a $2 trifecta paid out $3,393.80.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Superfecta Picks

It is time to deliver our superfecta picks for the Kentucky Derby. This is even trickier than the trifecta, because you need to specify the first four horses that will cross the finish line.

We are going for Epicenter, Charge It, Mo Donegal and Taiba in our Kentucky Derby 2022 superfecta picks.

Many horse racing fans expect Taiba to win the Kentucky Derby after getting the better of Messier in the Santa Anita Derby. Taiba is certainly popular in the Kentucky Derby expert picks, but we believe the occasion could overwhelm him, making a fourth-placed finish a more likely outcome.

Our picks: 

A $2 exacta at last year’s Kentucky Derby paid $18,912.80.

Kentucky Derby 2022 Super Hi-Five Picks

Early Voting came very close to beating Mo Donegal in the Wood Memorial, which bodes well for the Kentucky Derby 2022 picks. Winners of the Wood Memorial have underwhelmed at the Kentucky Derby in recent years, but Mo Donegal and Early Voting look very impressive.

We can see them finishing in the top five along with Epicenter, Charge It and Taiba.

A Super Hi-Five is a prediction on the first five runners to finish the race, in that exact order, so it is very difficult to predict, but it can result in very large payouts.

Our picks: 

A Super Hi-Five bet worth $2 would have paid out $593,538.20 last year at the Kentucky Derby.

Go with our Super Hi-Five bet Kentucky Derby picks

Our Top 3 Picks for the Kentucky Derby

These are our top picks for the top picks for the Kentucky Derby:

Pick 1: Epicenter to Win the Kentucky Derby

Epicenter is 4-1-0 in five starts and he eased to victory by 2 ½ lengths over Zozos in last month’s Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. His front-running style could see him take charge of the Kentucky Derby, and it will be tough for his rivals to overhaul him.

Steve Asmussen is the most successful trainer in North America, but he has never won the Kentucky Derby. This could be the year that unwanted record ends. Epicenter has been making great progress and he has the physical prowess to win this race.

Pick 2: Charge It Across the Board in the Kentucky Derby

A win, place and show bet on Charge It looks appealing at odds of +1600 with BetOnline and Bovada. We expect him to pose the greatest threat to Epicenter’s chances of winning this race.

Charge It impressed when finishing second to White Abarrio in the Florida Derby, getting the better of several contenders with far more experience. He should be even better by Derby Day.

Pick 3: Mo Donegal (Show) in the Kentucky Derby

Mo Donegal has the joint highest Brisnet Speed Figure and the fourth highest Timeform US Speed Figure of this year’s contenders.

His sire, Uncle Mo, also fathered 2016 Kentucky Derby winner Nyquist, so he has the pedigree.

Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites

It is important to choose a Kentucky Derby betting site that offers generous fixed odds, quick payouts, great bonuses and a strong all-round user experience. We reviewed each racebook and decided that these are the best Kentucky derby betting sites in 2022: 

Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites

BetOnline logo $1000 Welcome Bonus Get Offer
XBet logo 100% Up To $500 - No Code Required Get Offer
MyBookie logo 50% Deposit Bonus up to $1000 Get Offer
BetUS logo 125% sign up bonus. Bet $1000 Get $1250 Free. Get Offer
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Bovada logo Up to $1,000 Welcome Bonus Get Offer
BUSR logo 100% Bonus up to $1000 Get Offer
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Betanysports logo 35% free play up to $700 Bonus Get Offer

5 Key Kentucky Derby Trends That Can Help You Pick the Winner

Now that you know our Kentucky Derby picks for this year’s big race and our top places to wager, we also asked expert handicappers to study stats and trends. While there are no guarantees these find you the winner, they do help you make better decisions as a bettor. These are our top 5 key Kentucky Derby trends:

Trials to Follow

The Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park is one of the best prep races, producing 30% (six) of Kentucky Derby winners since 2001. Five of those were from 2006 onwards and three since 2013.

Don’t ignore the Santa Anita Derby in California either. Three winners and a second from that race have gone to glory at Churchill Downs since 2012.

Favorites

If you want to bet the Kentucky Derby favorite, then since 2008 you would’ve had a 50-50 chance of that horse winning. This race used to have a reputation as a graveyard for market leaders.

All that changed during the last decade, however, when six consecutive Kentucky Derby favorites won between 2013 and 2018. You can’t ignore the most fancied runner these days.

Prep Race Winners

While not all Kentucky Derby winners were victorious in their last prep run, many more were than not. Nine of the last 11 successful (81%) at Churchill Downs scored on their final start.

That is down to eight consecutive horses winning on the road to the Kentucky Derby between 2011 and 2018. It also helps to explain why just over two-thirds of big race heroes this century (68%) tasted victory en route to Churchill Downs.

Post Position

A low draw and post position can be the kiss of death if our Kentucky Derby trends are any indicator. Almost two-thirds (64%) of winners this century came out of gate 8 or higher.

No Kentucky Derby winner in that time jumped out of a gate number lower than 4 either. A higher draw is a trend in the big one at Churchill Downs that bettors just can’t ignore. Horses somehow seem to get a clear run on the outer while the innermost struggle.

Trainers & Jockeys

John Velazquez has three wins in the Kentucky Derby from the saddle since 2011. He rides Messier this year.

With Bob Baffert banned from training horses right now, Todd Pletcher and Doug O’Neill have both won this race twice since 2010. Pletcher saddles three from his barn this year in Mo Donegal, Charge It and Pioneer Of Medina. O’Neill runs longshot Happy Jack.

What are Kentucky Derby Picks?

Kentucky Derby picks are predictions on how the big race will unfold. The art of predicting the winner of the race and exotic bets is known as handicapping. It requires studying detailed past performance data on each of the runners. We assessed their relative strengths and weaknesses in a bid to predict the result of the race.

When coming up with Kentucky Derby top picks, it is important to analyze the Beyer Speed Figures. You also need to factor in the class of races each horse has flourished in, assessing how well the horse has fared against high-quality opposition.

Pace and the capability to handle the distance are also important considerations when making free Kentucky Derby picks. After crunching the data, the idea is to rank each horse and predict the order in which they will finish. That allows you to come up with Kentucky Derby picks on the win, place, show, exacta and so on.

Where to Find Kentucky Derby Expert Picks

We have highlighted our top Kentucky Derby free picks on this page, but we understand that you may want a second – and perhaps a third and fourth – opinion.

You can find Kentucky Derby expert picks at KentuckyDerby.com. There are Kentucky Derby handicapper picks from experienced analysts there. You will also find Kentucky Derby free picks and Kentucky Derby sleeper picks at ChurchillDowns.com

Try to find reliable experts, rather than relying on a random bettor on Twitter. You can consider paying for Kentucky Derby picks today, but most people stick to Kentucky Derby free picks.

Kentucky Derby picks for 2022

How to Make Kentucky Derby Picks and Predictions

It is fun and potentially very profitable to make your own Kentucky Derby picks and predictions. If you want to learn how to bet on the Kentucky Derby, check out our dedicated guide. When handicapping the race, you can focus on five key criteria:

  • Speed Figures | Check out the speed figures from Beyer, Brisnet and Timeform US to see who has impressed this year. Consider the consistency with which they have earned high scores and the conditions they were running in when posting them.
  • Class | It is important to consider how well the various Kentucky Derby contenders have performed against the country’s leading three-year-olds this year. The Arkansas Derby, the Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby, Florida Derby, and the Wood Memorial are the key prep races.
  • Post Positions | When the post positions are announced, check who has been handed a favorable draw based on historical data.
  • Pace and Style | Try to anticipate the pace at which the race will develop and whether it will favor front-runners, stalkers or closers.
  • Staying Power | Distance capability is a crucial component for any Kentucky Derby winner. Try to figure out which runners can flourish during the 1 1/4 miles of the Derby. For example, Early Voting finished well in his best performance and seemed keen for a longer distance.

Remember to claim bonuses too, as you can benefit from lots of horse racing free bets on the race, giving you more scope to test out your Kentucky Derby 2022 picks.

Picks and Parlays for the Kentucky Derby

A parlay allows you to predict the winners of multiple races and combine them into a single bet. You could specify which horse will win the Kentucky Derby along with three other races taking place that day, for instance.

It is difficult to achieve a successful parlay, but you can earn huge payouts if you guess correctly. The profit from each correct pick rolls onto the next leg, meaning the overall payout compounds. However, the house edge increases with each leg you add too, so you should proceed with caution.

More on horse racing betting…

If you would like to learn more about betting on the Kentucky Derby, check out these pages:

FAQs

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Marty has been writing long-form articles on sports betting, horse racing, esports and online casino gaming for Basketball Insiders since 2021. He worked for one of the world's largest bookmakers before becoming a journalist, and he has covered the industry for the past eight years.