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Posted 2022-03-09 10:04:26  
2022 Kentucky Derby Picks & Expert Handicapping Picks


The big horse racing on the American calendar is edging closer, as the Kentucky Derby takes place on Saturday, May 7th. Churchill Downs hosts the prestigious Grade 1 to kick off the Triple Crown season, as this season’s three-year-olds look to join greats such as American Pharoah and Justify and become a Triple Crown winner.

Of course, this year’s race is unlike any other, as leading trainer Bob Baffert will be banned from making entries following the failed drugs test and subsequent disqualification of Medina Spirit in 2021.

So, who are the leading contenders for the race in 2022, and what are some trends that bettors must be aware of?

Kentucky Derby 2022 Trends

The Kentucky Derby, more so than many other races on the calendar, requires a detailed look at trends. That is down to the trends potentially opening up a value selection in the betting.

There are a number of important trends that must be examined before making a wager, like handicapping, which you can check here:

The stall that runners are drawn in is important, as all previous 16 winners haven’t been drawn in stalls one to three. Also, the races that horses have run in previously are important. For example, 15 of the previous 16 winners have won a Group race, while the same number of winners has won over 8 and a half furlongs.

The number of starts is also important, as all 16 previous winners of the Kentucky Derby have made between two and four starts. Also the odds last time out are also important research, as 15 of the previous 16 winners haven’t been bigger than 8/1 on their previous start before the opening Triple Crown race.

Importantly, 71% of the winners from the previous 16 renewals have won over a distance of between 1 miles ½ furlong and 1 mile 1 furlong.

Leading Contenders

Smile Happy

Smile Happy is currently one of the leading contenders in the betting for the Kentucky Derby, as he ticks a lot of boxes for trainer Kenneth McPeek. The three-year-old was second last time out in the G2 Risen Star, as he finished behind Epicenter over 1 1/8 miles.

However, he has already won in graded company over an extended distance, as he won the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club over 1 1/16 miles. That fact that the victory was also at Churchill Downs also bolds very well for his chances at the Kentucky Derby this year.

Forbidden Kingdom

I have been very excited about Forbidden kingdom since the end of last year, and he has progressed into a stunning chance of the Kentucky Derby this year. Questions were asked whether the Richard Mandella-trained horse would be able to be as dominant over a longer distance, and he emphatically answered those queries by smashing his rivals into the ground over 1 1/16 miles at Santa Anita.

His victory in the G2 San Felipe was the star performance of the season to this point, and makes him a two-time Group winner after also winning over seven furlongs in the G2 San Vicente. His only stakes defeat came when second behind the very impressive Messier in the G3 Bob Hope in November.


Another Kentucky Derby prep race winner has also been a significant market mover, as Simplification looks a solid contender. The three-year-old landed the G2 Fountain of Youth over 1 1/16 miles in March, which was a strong return after finishing second in the G3 Holy Bull just a month before.

He certainly looks a talented contender around Gulfstream Park , and it will be interesting to see him run at a different track. His next stop on the road to the Triple Crown race is the G1 Florida Derby in early April.


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