Nunnsense | KY Derby 148 Preview

For many years now I’ve been asked and have provided my thoughts and predictions on the greatest two minutes in sports. I’ve done so on several platforms including social media and magazines. But for about the last six years, I’ve posted them on here. It’s my one yearly post that’s not directly UofL related.

However, there is a desire by our readers to try to make a smart wager and win some money no matter if you are at Churchill on Saturday or at a Derby party with friends and/or family. My goal is to give you some helpful information so you can be better prepared when placing your wager even if its just a $2 show wager. I’ll also tell you what I think will happen.

If you are someone who likes to bet on a horse based on its color here is an interestng fact for you …

Including 2021 winner Mandaloun, 56 bay horses have won the garland of roses.

Chestnut is the next most common coat color, with 48 winners, while 31 dark bay/brown horses have finished first in the Run for the Roses, and just eight gray/roan horses have earned victories. 

Or perhaps you like to bet your lucky number…

The starting gate was first used in 1930. Since then, the winningest post has been post position 5, with 10 wins, followed by post 10, with nine wins.

The only post to never host a Derby winner is #17.

Maybe you like to wager on horses who won certain prep races leading up to the Derby…

The Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park has had 24 runners go on to win the Derby, one more than the number from the Blue Grass S. (G2) at Keeneland. Twenty-three Derby winners also ran in the Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont, while the Hopeful S. (G1) at Saratoga and Wood Memorial (G2) at Aqueduct have each had 20 runners triumph in the Run for the Roses. ( see below for more info)

Here are a few other tidbits of info to consider…

  • Pace – Between 2014 and 2021, all eight horses who crossed the wire first in the Derby prevailed by setting or tracking the pace from no farther back than third place.
  • Prep races – Two prominent Kentucky Derby prep races (The Bluegreass and the Wood Memorial) have struggled to produce Derby champions in recent years. No horse has used the Blue Grass as a springboard to success in the Run for the Roses since Street Sense in 2007, and the last horse to win both races was Strike the Gold in 1991. The statistics for the Wood Memorial paint a similar picture. The last horse to exit the Wood Memorial and win the Kentucky Derby was Funny Cide in 2003, and the only horse in the past 40 years to win both races was Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000.
  • Coming in Hot – Horses who prevailed in their final prep race have dominated recent editions of the Kentucky Derby. No fewer than nine of the last 11 Kentucky Derby winners entered off a victory. Furthermore, eight of those 11 entered the Kentucky Derby undefeated for the season, so it pays to arrive at Churchill Downs in winning form. Epicenter, Zandon, White Abarrio,  Taiba, Mo Denegal, Tiz The Bomb, Cyberknife, Crown Pride and Tawny Port all won their last start
  • Layoff – Since 1956, only two Kentucky Derby winners—Animal Kingdom in 2011 and Authentic in 2020—have won the Run for the Roses off a layoff of six weeks or more. A strong race within five weeks of the Derby is the usual recipe for success. Epicenter, Crown Pride, Zozos, Summer Is Tomorrow and Pioneer of Medina all have had a layoff of 6 weeks or more.

Watch the Races on TV

Fri, May 6th – Oaks Day 1 – 6PM USA Network
Sat, May 7th – Derby Day Undercard 12 – 2:30PM USA Network
Sat, May 7th – Derby Day 2:30 – 7:30PM NBC

KY Derby 148 Contenders

3 Epicenter

ML Odds: 7-2
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Jockey: Joe Rosario

He seems to be the best horse in the field…Well, if you look at the points standings. I figured he would be the morning line favorite but go off as the 2nd betting choice (behind Zandon). He has proven he can run from the lead or just off the pace. He has won 4 of his last 5 starts. He has beaten several of this field in previous races, including Zandon, Smile Happy, Zozos, Pioneer of Medina (twice) and Cyberknife. He checks all the boxes besides not racing within 5 weeks of the Derby. But that isn’t really a concern for me because Saturday will be exactly 6 weeks since he won the Louisiana Derby (March 26th).

10 Zandon

ML Odds: 3-1
Trainer: Chad Brown
Jockey: Flavien Prat

Your morning line favorite despite previously losing to Epicenter. But this one has improved so much and impressively weaved his way through traffic to win the Bluegrass. It wasn’t only that he rallied from way back it’s how he blew past a quality horses like Smile Happy to win. Normally a horse trying to weave his way through a 20 horse field in the Churchill stretch isn’t ideal, there may be so much speed up front that it sets up perfectly for him to come running late and grab the roses. I know he likely won’t be that far back but you get the idea. I’m skeptical of that tactic so I’m not betting him to win. I wouldn’t leave him off my exotic bets though just in case he gets through. I think it’s likely he sits 10th -12th most of the race. If he is in 5th or 6th when they turn for home, he’ll have a shot.

16 Cyberknife

ML Odds: 20-1
Trainer: Brad Cox
Jockey: Florent Geroux

This is my dude right here. Not sure if he can improve enough to win but he has a legit shot. I’ll definitely be placing a wager on him to win. I’d love 20-1 but there is no way this ever improving talented horse goes off worse than 12-1. To me, he seems to be getting good at the right time. He has the tactical speed and the pedigree to go all the way. The Beyer speed figure indicates he is closer to the top of the 3-year-old division, while the Equibase number shows he would need to take a significant step forward on five weeks rest to be competitive in the Kentucky Derby. While I’m a Beyer speed figure guy, I think he takes that step and I believe he will love the Churchill track. And for those of you that know me well, you know I love me a Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey owned horse. I see him sitting top 5 most of the race and putting in his run at the top of the stretch. Can he get there? It all depends on who are the 4 horses ahead of him when they hit that last turn.

6 Messier

ML Odds: 8-1
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Jockey: John Velazquez

At one point I thought he would easily be the favorite for the KY Derby. I still believe he is a very very good horse. I also believe in his last race, The Santa Anita Derby, already having enough points to qualify for the KY Derby, he was slowed towards the final furlong so his stablemate Taiba could win and ensure enough points for both to qualify for the Derby. Because of his being slowed many think he can’t get the distance. I was one of them. But upon further research, I’m not 100% sure he can’t. I also believe his odds of 8-1 are higher because of the trainer change. I think he should be closer to 5-1 or even 4-1. Definitely one with a great chance.

12 Taiba

ML Odds: 12-1
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Jockey: Mike Smith

He could end up being the 3 year old of the year but I’m not sure he is ready to win this race. I believe he is talented enough but with only 2 career starts, I’m not sure he is battle tested enough to win in a 20 horse field. There were only 6 horses in the SA Derby and one was his stablemate (Messier) and his only other race was a 6 furlong maiden race. Only 1 horse has won the Derby with only 2 career starts and it hasn’t happened since the 1800’s. So I’ll wager with history on this one. NO win bets here but definitely good enough to hit the board. But if you told me he won by 10 lengths, I wouldn’t be shocked. I just can’t bet him to win because …. history.

15 White Abarrio

ML Odds: 12-1
Trainer: Tim Yakteen
Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Undefeated this year is always a good thing. I’m not sure what it is about this horse but I’m just not a fan. Call it a hunch or whatever but I just can’t get behind him. I respect his ability but I believe everything set up perfectly for him in the Florida Derby and I think that will be the best race of his career. Already peeked in my opinion. His only loss came at Churchill Downs, where he ran 3rd behind both Smile Happy and Classic Causeway, for what that’s worth.

14 Barber Road

ML Odds: 30-1
Trainer: John Ortiz
Jockey: Reylu Gutierrez

Consistent. Thats what this horse it. This horse is really the only horse in the race that has run stronger at the finish in every single race. However, this one is not good enough to win. Look for him to be “passing tiring rivals” down the stretch and possibly get a piece of the superfecta.

8 Charge It

ML Odds: 20-1
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Luis Saez

This is your value play. A must in your exotics. My opinion is he was the best horse in the Florida Derby. Still needs to improve to get there first but if he takes that step forward like I think he can, he has a chance to shock some people. The post is ideal and added distance sets up great for him. Don’t overlook this one. – He is working very well in the mornings at Churchill. Could hit the board at a price.

1 Mo Donegal

ML Odds: 10-1
Trainer: Todd Pletcher
Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Wood Memorial winner over a less that stellar field. Had a very strong kick home but what’s that worth in that race. He typically breaks poorly and I think that dooms him. The 1 post isn’t an issue with the new starting gate but I just can’t use him. He is top 10 in this field but you can’t bet them all so I’ll throw him off my ticket.

5 Smile Happy

ML Odds: 20-1
Trainer: Kenny McPeek
Jockey: Corey Lanerie

If you like Epicenter and Zandon, you have to like this son of Runhappy because he went off as the favorite over both in two meetings. He didn’t win either of them but he didn’t get roasted either. A quality horse who should be hanging around trying to get a piece but not likely good enough to win. I’ll use on my tickets.


2022 Kentucky Derby Morning Line Odds

(Post) Horse ML Odds

1) Mo Donegal 10-1
2) Happy Jack 30-1
3) Epicenter 7-2
4) Summer Is Tomorrow 30-1
5) Smile Happy 20-1
6) Messier 8-1
7) Crown Pride (JPN) 20-1
8) Charge It 20-1
9) Tiz the Bomb 30-1
10) Zandon 3-1
11) Pioneer of Medina 30-1
12) Taiba 12-1
13) Simplification 20-1
14) Barber Road 30-1
15) White Abarrio 10-1
16) Cyberknife 20-1
17) Classic Causeway 30-1
18) Tawny Port 30-1
19) Zozos 20-1
20) Ethereal Road 30-1

Also Elgible
(21) Rich Strike 30-1
(22) Rattle N Roll 30-1

2022 Kentucky Oaks Morning Line Odds

(Post) Horse ML Odds

(1) Secret Oath 6-1
(2) Nostalgic 15-1
(3) Hidden Connection 20-1
(4) Nest 5-2
(5) Goddess of Fire 15-1
(6) Yuugiri 30-1
(7) Echo Zulu 4-1
(8) Venti Valentine 20-1
(9) Desert Dawn 20-1
(10) Kathleen O. 7-2
(11) Cocktail Moments 30-1
(12) Candy Raid 30-1
(13) Shahama 15-1
(14) Turnerloose 20-1

My Picks

I probably won’t decide who exactly I put the majority of my money on until about 5 minute to post but as of right now, I’ll be placing a couple dollars on Cyberknife to win and place just because of value. Not much but a little something unless he drops under 12-1.

If I had to bet right now my tickets would look like this…

Oaks = 1-7-2-11-3

Bet the 1 to win and place.

Might just box 1,2,3 in exacta also.

6-1 on Secret Oath is a gift. Echo Zulu is a champ but might need a race only having 1 race in 2022 and no grade 1 races since winning the Breeder Cup.

Derby = I’ll probably bet the bulk of my money on the 3 to win and place. My exotics look like this … I’ll put the 3,6,16 on top of 3,5,6,8,16 for my exacta. Trifecta likely box the 3,5,6,8,10,16. I don’t play superfecta’s and rarely play trifecta’s.

As Always, GO CARDS!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.