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Kentucky Derby Best Bets: Win, Place & Show Picks – Epicenter Favored

Dave Friedman

by Dave Friedman in Horse Racing News

Updated May 7, 2022 · 6:00 AM PDT

Kentucky Derby hopeful Epicenter is bathed on the backside at Churchill Downs. May 3, 2022 Af5i2914
  • America’s biggest horse race, the Kentucky Derby takes place Saturday in Louisville
  • The winner gets all the glory, but there is cash to be made on the horses that finish next best
  • Where can we find win, place, and show betting value for our Kentucky Derby best bets for 2022?

Sure, in six of the last nine years the Kentucky Derby winner has been the favorite. Guess what? Over the last two runnings we have seen winners pay $18.80 and $26.20 for a two-dollar wager. Even better, two years ago Mr Big News paid $16.80 to show, and in 2021 Mandaloun cashed to the tune of $23 to place.

Six times in the last nine years a horse at 25/1 or better has hit the board. Keep your eye on Kentucky Derby odds, and fire up your favorite Kentucky Derby betting sites online. While experts love to throw around funny horse racing terminology and encourage exotic wagers, sometimes your Kentucky Derby best bets are the simplest ones, and recent history tells us they can pay well.

Let’s study the odds and consider the best horse to bet win, place, and show on.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets for 2022

Horse Win Odds Place Odds Show Odds
Epicenter +300 +150 -150
Zandon +500 +225 +150
Taiba +600 +275 +175
Messier +700 +300 +200
Mo Donegal +1100 +475 +310
White Abarrio +1200 +550 +350
Charge It +1200 +550 +350
Smile Happy +1600 +750 +475
Cyberknife +1800 +800 +550
Simplification +2200 +900 +600
Zozos +2500 +1000 +650
Crown Pride +2500 +1200 +800
Tiz the Bomb +2800 +1000 +650
Pioneer of Medina +3300 +1400 +950
Barber Road +4000 +1600 +1000
Classic Causeway +4000 +1400 +950
Tawny Port +5000 +1800 +1100
Happy Jack +6600 +2800 +475
Summer Is Tomorrow +6600 +3500 +2200
Rich Strike +6600 +3500 +2200

All odds taken May 6

How to bet on the Kentucky Derby may come down to the most basic of understanding. A win bet only cashes if your horse crosses the finish line first and isn’t disqualified.

On a bet to place, you win if your horse finishes first or second. A show wager cashes if your horse is among the top three. Obviously, the payouts typically are not as high when you cash a place or show bet, but there is significant value if you can find a longshot that runs well.

Best Kentucky Derby Win Bet

From a betting perspective, not having an enormous, or even a strong consensus favorite, allows you to play the horse you like best to win regardless of price. The payout is going to be reasonable or better if you find the winner. We have added Beyer Speed Figures to help compare the top contenders.

Epicenter has the best resume. He has won four of six career races including March’s Louisiana Derby.

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His Beyer of 102 at the Fair Grounds makes him one of four horses to post a triple-digit rating. In his penultimate Derby prep, Epicenter beat Zandon and Smile Happy in the Risen Star Stakes. Trainer Steve Asmussen has won more races in the US than any other conditioner in history, and jockey Joel Rosario won last year’s Eclipse Award as the top rider.

Mo Donegal and Zandon fought tooth and nail in November’s Remsen Stakes, and both appear to be in great form right now.

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Mo Donegal has won three times in five starts and closed strong down the stretch to win the Wood Memorial last month. He earned a 96 Beyer but drew post position number one. It has been more than 30 years since the Derby winner came from the rail. Zandon is two for four and looked incredible powering home to win the Blue Grass Stakes four weeks ago. His Beyer figure was 98 for that victory.

The Santa Anita Derby was supposed to be a heavyweight battle between Messier and Forbidden Kingdom. Messier battled hard and shook clear of his rival. However, the lightly raced Taiba was rolling down the lane.

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Last year Santa Anita Derby runner-up Medina Spirit was first across the wire at the Kentucky Derby. Messier dealt with pace pressure, and still just missed, earning a 99 Beyer after posting a 103 in his previous race. As for Taiba, he could be special. That said, he has run only twice and didn’t debut until March. His figures are 103 and 102 in those races. Messier and Taiba are trained by Tim Yakteen, a former Bob Baffert assistant who has been conditioning his old bosses’ top horses since Baffert was suspended.

Best Kentucky Derby Place Bet

The primary win candidates obviously can finish second too. That said there should at least be a discussion centered around several other Kentuck Derby contenders.

White Abarrio won the two biggest prep races in Florida and has only lost once in five tries. His last two races have resulted in Beyer numbers of 96 and 97

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Smile Happy beat White Abarrio in November, was second to Epicenter in February, and finished as the runner-up against Zandon last month. Twice he has achieved a 94 Beyer.

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The official winner of last year’s Kentucky Derby is the Brad Cox trained and Florent Geroux ridden Mandaloun, who was named the winner after Medina Spirit was disqualified. Cox and Geroux team up this year with Arkansas Derby winner Cyberknife. His Beyer for the win was 92.

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Best Kentucky Derby Show Bet

Who can hit the board at a price for your Kentucky Derby best bets for 2022? A pair of lightly raced colts are of interest. Neither Charge It nor Zozos ran as two-year-olds, and neither is coming off a win. Charge It was firing down the stretch finishing second in the Florida Derby, and probably going better than White Abarrio in the late stages. Charge It earned a 93 Beyer. Zozos was a credible second to Epicenter in his stakes debut at the Louisiana Derby and posted a 98.

Looking for a real dart? Horses from Japan have begun to make a huge impact on the world stage. Crown Pride has three wins in four tries and was much the best at the UAE Derby.

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There have been 11 horses who prepped for the Kentucky Derby in Dubai since 2000. None have won, and they have yet to hit the board. That said, Japan is having a moment, and the price will be right.


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Kentucky Derby Show Pick

Sometimes in drafts teams go with upside. It feels like Taiba’s ceiling is the highest. He is unproven, but his $1.7 sale price and two races seem to indicate he could be special. This could be the last chance to bet on him and have value present.

Mo Donegal ran the best down the stretch among all of the Kenticky Derby contenders in their final prep. The pace on Saturday should be fair if not fast, and he’ll be motoring late.

If you like Taiba, then you clearly aren’t afraid of untested colts. Zozos showed some real promise against Epicenter last time out, and may take another step on Saturday.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets for 2022

Win: Taiba (+600)
Place: Mo Donegal (+475)
Show: Zozos (+650)


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