Kentucky Derby Lineup Lacks A Clear Favorite — It’s Anyone’s To Win

Written By Gerard Apadula on May 6, 2022 - Last Updated on May 9, 2022
Kentucky Derby Favorites

Is it me or did the final round of Kentucky Derby prep races leave us with more questions than answers?

I looked for answers at the Derby points leaderboard and left with more questions.

Can Zandon, who was impressive winning the Blue Grass Stakes while roaring off the far turn, splitting horses to win going away, win the Kentucky Derby is just his fifth career start, or will he fall back into his “unlucky” ways? How will the relatively inexperienced colt react to the 150,000 alcohol-fueled, screaming fans in attendance that afternoon? How will he handle the quirky Churchill Downs surface? The same way Secretariat did while setting a track record in 1973 or the way Holy Bull, Point Given, and a whole host of others did not handle it at all?

That question can be asked tenfold of Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba. Although gifted, he will be making just his third career start ever in, with all due respects to the Prix de Arc de Triomphe, Dubai World Cup, The Everest, The Melbourne Cup et al., the biggest horse race on the planet?
2018 Triple Crown winner Justify won the Derby in his just his third career start, so does this mean that Zandon needs to be as good as him? Does it mean Taiba needs to be better?

Can Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal, who has the running style and stamina to run big on May 7, win outside of New York? Because thus far, he has not.

Same question can be asked for Florida’s best three-year-old male, White Abarrio. First, he thoroughly dominated with his win in the Holy Bull. Then, he doubled back some seven weeks later to take down the Florida Derby. This win put him at 4-for-4 at Gulfstream Park but 0-for-1 at Churchill Downs. Can he win outside of Florida?

What about points leader Epicenter, who showed the oh-so-important versatility in his last race? He can beat you from on the lead or slightly off of it but has yet to win a Grade: 1 race.

Tiz the Bomb, ranked #5 on the points list, looks like his best game is on synthetic surfaces.

When he pulled off a minor upset in the Arkansas Derby, where did Cyberknife come from? He had been struggling for most of his career before putting all together, but was that a fluke race or is he getting good at the right time? Also, is his best race even good enough to win the Derby?

No horse has won the UAE Derby, then come to the U.S. and won the Kentucky Derby. In my estimation, it will take an extraordinary animal to do that. Crown Pride appears to be a talented colt, but is he extremely special? Hard to say.

Smile Happy has a beautiful way of moving. Last year, he won over the Churchill Downs strip and will be coming into the Derby on his third start off a layoff, generally a horse’s best race. However, will he improve enough to leapfrog Zandon, who ran right past him, offering little resistance, down the lane in the Bluegrass Stakes?

Perhaps it’s a bit early to say this, but with all these questions abounding, it makes me think this might be an ordinary crop of three year old males.

Time will tell if that’s the case or not.

Photo by AP | Charlie Riedel
Gerard Apadula Avatar
Written by
Gerard Apadula

View all posts by Gerard Apadula
Privacy Policy