Kentucky Derby 2022: Early Look at the Contenders

The late Medina Spirit crosses the wire just ahead of Mandaloun in 2021

The Kentucky Derby is still months away. However, Derby fever is already running rampant through the horse racing world. On Sunday, January 23 the 2nd Kentucky Derby Future pool closed. Let’s take a look at the current favorites and past performance of this pool.

Kentucky Derby Future Pool #2 Results

The following pari-mutuel prices are the final results of pool 2 which closed on Sunday.

  1. All Other Three Year Olds (9-5)
  2. Smile Happy (8-1)
  3. Tiz the Bomb (10-1)
  4. Jack Christopher (14-1)
  5. Chasing Time (17-1)
  6. Emmanuel (17-1)
  7. Rattle and Roll (20-1)
  8. Slow Down Andy (20-1)
  9. Mo Donegal (23-1)
  10. Epicenter (24-1)
  11. Pappacap (24-1)
  12. Zandon (25-1)
  13. Giant Game (28-1)
  14. Dash Attack (34-1)
  15. High Oak (38-1)
  16. Courvoisier (29-1)
  17. Command Performance (41-1)
  18. Major General (41-1)
  19. Simplification (43-1)
  20. Varatti (47-1)

Notable Omissions

There are a few notable omissions from the Kentucky Derby future pool which contributed to the increased favoritism of all other 3 year olds.

No Bafferts

Corniche was not included in Kentucky Derby future pool #2
Corniche is part of the “All Other 3 Year Olds” entry in Derby Pool #2

The first noticeable absence is the presence of any Bob Baffert runners. In previous years Baffert’s name would be all over the short priced contenders, but due to a drug positive in last year’s race his horses are ineligible for points. Should the ban be lifted his runners would fall under the all other entry from this pool.

Upset at the Fair Grounds

Call Me Midnight earns 10 Kentucky Derby points with a win in the Lecomte.
Call me Midnight wins the Lecomte and earns 10 Debry Points

Another horse not included in pool #2 is Call Me Midnight who upset the field in the Lecomte stakes over the weekend. Epicenter and Pappacap who were included in the pool lost as the top 2 choices in that race.

Fans of Pappacap and Epicenter can rest easy however, as the Lecomte has not typically been a great indicator of Kentucky Derby success.

2022 Kentucky Derby Future Pool Impact

Before players start locking into their 2022 Derby selections it is important to recognize there is a lot of time between now and the Run for the Roses. It is for this reason that some of the prices on the list are so high and the “all other category” is so over bet.

Kentucky Derby Fever

The Kentucky Derby is unquestionably the most recognizable horse race on the calendar in any given year. The prestige of winning the race can often lead to big stallion deals that can create a profitable horse for years after he has retired from the track.

Beyond the financials, owning, training, or riding a Derby winner is the fulfillment of a dream that get many into the sport in the first place. This strong desire to win the race that each horse gets only 1 shot at in their lifetime has led to a phenomenon known as “Derby Fever”.

Derby Fever is a phenomenon in which connections try to qualify for the race even if it not within the preferred scope of the horses talent. A perfect example is Jackie’s Warrior who spent a brief moment on the Derby trail. In truth Jackie’s Warrior is one of the most talented sprinters in recent vintage. The connections quickly learned this and brought him back to his preferred distance.

Unfortunately, some get much further down the Derby trail before they realize that winning the feature on the first Saturday in May is a pipedream at best.

Rapidly Maturing Horses

For bettors one of the challenges with betting the Kentucky Derby successfully is the fact that the horses have a limited series of races leading up to the race and none of them have a race at the classic distance of 10 furlongs.

With sparse past performance data, handicapping is made even more challenging by the rapid progression of horses that can occur during the early stages of their 3 year old campaign. Horses that made little sense in December of 2021 could be rounding into form by May and ready to win the roses. Hot Rod Charlie was 94-1 in the Breeder’s Cup (November 2020) and went off at 6-1 finishing a beat length in the 2021 Kentucky Derby.

Staying Healthy

Perhaps the biggest challenge for all of these horses is staying healthy between now and the Kentucky Derby. On Saturday the likely 2021 Kentucky Derby favorite will be running in the Pegasus World Cup against Knicks Go. Life is Good was in the driver seat of the Kentucky Derby odds before he had to take time off due to injury causing him to miss the race.

Life is Good is not alone. Injuries and illness are a part of horse racing and the Road to the Derby is full of precocious animals who have an unfortunate turn of luck and miss the gate. Charlatan, Nadal, and Concert Tour all come immediately to mind.

Kentucky Derby Pool #2 in 2021

With Derby pool #2 closed here’s a look back at how the 2021 pool #2 did in the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Finish position assumes that Medina Spirit’s victory is upheld.

  • All Other Three Year Olds (9-5) Highest finisher: O Besos (5th)
  • Life Is Good (7-1) Did Not Run
  • Essential Quality (8-1) 4th Place
  • Caddo River (13-1) Did Not Run
  • Concert Tour (16-1) Did Not Run
  • Keepmeinmind (19-1) 7th Place
  • Prime Factor (21-1) Did Not Run
  • Jackie's Warrior (23-1) Did Not Run
  • Highly Motivated (24-1) 10th Place
  • Medina Spirit (24-1) 1st Place
  • Bezos (26-1) Did Not Run
  • Midnight Bourbon (26-1) 6th Place
  • Senor Buscador (34-1) Did Not Run
  • Greatest Honour (40-1) Did Not Run
  • Hot Rod Charlie (40-1) 3rd Place
  • Mandaloun (42-1) 2nd Place
  • Fire At Will (45-1) Did Not Run
  • Mutasaabeq (47-1) Did Not Run
  • Spielberg (47-1) Did Not Run
  • Prate (48-1) Did Not Run
  • Olympiad (64-1) Did Not Run
  • Capo Kane (66-1) Did Not Run
  • Proxy (76-1) Did Not Run
  • Wipe the Slate (87-1) Did Not Run

Road to the Kentucky Derby Coverage

As the racing calendar inches closer to the larger Derby prep races Betting News will continue to have coverage of who is in, who is out, and who is heating up. The full schedule of Kentucky Derby prep races and their point values can be found via the Kentucky Derby website.

By Chris Adams

Chris first got introduced to horse racing in 2009 at Canterbury Park (Shakopee, MN). Along with handicapping and betting, Chris has worked as a teller at his local track and participated in ownership partnerships. He now enjoys sharing his passion with his wife and two young daughters who love going out to the track each and every summer.