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2022 Kentucky Derby Day Odds, Picks & Preview: Best Bets, Exotics for 5 Saturday Races at Churchill Downs (May 7)

2022 Kentucky Derby Day Odds, Picks & Preview: Best Bets, Exotics for 5 Saturday Races at Churchill Downs (May 7) article feature image
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Andy Lyons/Getty Images. Pictured: Kentucky Derby contender Mo Donegal.

We have finally reached the business part of the weekend at Churchill Downs, with the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby finally on deck in the world of thoroughbred horse racing.

On Saturday, the annual “Run for the Roses,” which is set to feature 20 of the top 3-year-old horses in the world, will be run on the dirt at 1 1/4 miles in Louisville, Ky.

The Derby post time is set for 6:57 p.m. ET, with race coverage running from 2:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Earlier races from Churchill Downs will air on USA Network from 12 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. ET as well.

Ethereal Road was scratched from the Derby on Friday morning, as was Rattle N Roll from the Also Eligible list. That meant Rich Strike, who was the second horse on the AE list, drew into the field.

Action Network handicapper Mike Conti has broken down five stakes races, unveiling his top picks and exotic wagers on the loaded card taking place in the heartland of North American horse racing.

That said, let’s take a look at where he’s landed with his favorite bets.


2022 Kentucky Derby Current Odds

*Updated odds via TwinSpires

POST POSITION  HORSE ODDS
1 Mo Donegal 8-1
2 Happy Jack 22-1
3 Epicenter 5-1
4 Summer Is Tomorrow 42-1
5 Smile Happy 15-1
6 Messier 7-1
7 Crown Pride 17-1
8 Charge It 13-1
9 Tiz The Bomb 25-1
10 Zandon 8-1
11 Pioneer Of Medina 47-1
12 Taiba 5-1
13 Simplification 40-1
14 Barber Road 41-1
15 White Abarrio 11-1
16 Cyberknife 14-1
17 Classic Causeway 67-1
18 Tawny Port 67-1
19 Zozos 39-1
20 Rich Strike 99-1

 2022 Kentucky Derby Day Picks

*(Races 8-12)

Race 8 — Derby City Distaff Stakes

Distance: 7 Furlongs

Surface: Turf

Post Time: 2:48 p.m. ET

Top Pick

No. 1 Lady Rocket (5-1) is proven over the Churchill Downs turf course with a win from two starts. Last time out, she was pressed all the way around the track that was favoring closing horses and couldn’t hold off a late charge from a foe. That was also her first off start following a four-month layoff, so I expect her to be ready to fire second off the bench.

Live Contenders for Exotic Wagering

No. 5 Obligatory (7-2) enters off a nice win last time out and is a perfect 2 for 2 at Churchill. I loved her last year in the Eight Belles on Kentucky Oaks Day and believe she will get the jump on the other closers in this race. The Bill Mott barn has been firing of late and he always seems to have his horses ready to run on the big days.

No. 4 Kimari (9-2) was beaten last time out by a couple of other runners that show up in this race. She got the jump on the closers, but wasn’t able to fend them off in deep stretch. Kimari should sit a nice stalking trip and will be the first to make a move on Lady Rocket coming for home.

Conti’s BetsWin — No. 1 Lady Rocket
Exacta Box — 1 over 4 | 5
Pick 3 (Races 8-9-10) — 1,4,5 | 7 | 3,8
Pick 5 (Races 8-9-10-11-12) — 1,4,5 | 7 | 3,8 | 3,8 | 1,3,6,10,12,19

Race 9 — American Turf Stakes

Distance: 1 1/16 Miles

Surface: Turf

Post Time: 3:40 p.m. ET

Top Pick

No. 7 Sy Dog (7-2) is my best bet of the day. He’s a perfect 3 for 3 in his young career. Last time out, he won off a four-month layoff and I expect his best effort. He should get plenty of pace to run into as well, which will help his running style. Trainer Graham Motion is 23% with winners last out and he keeps Irad Ortiz Jr. in the irons.

Conti’s Bets: Win — No. 7 Sy Dog
Daily Double (Races 9 & 10) — 7 | 3,8
Pick 3 (Races 9-10-11): 7 | 3,8 | 3,8

Race 10 — Churchill Downs Stakes

Distance: 7 Furlongs

Surface: Dirt

Post Time: 4:31 p.m. ET

The Pick

No. 8 Cezanne (4-1) is an ultra-consistent 5-year-old with four wins from seven career starts. His stalking style and outside post bode well for him in this spot. The only question will be if anyone can pressure Jackie’s Warrior up front.

Live Contender for Exotic Wagering

No. 3 Jackie’s Warrior (5-2) hasn’t done much wrong in his career, with nine wins from 13 starts. He’s also a perfect 2 for 2 at Churchill Downs. While he’s proven he can get the seven furlongs, I still wonder if that’s just a little too far for his liking. Last time out, he barely held on for the win, granted it was off the layoff and in the slop.

Conti’s Bets: Exacta Box —  3 & 8

Race 11 — Old Forester Bourbon Turf Classic Stakes

Distance: 1 1/8 Miles

Surface: Turf

Post Time: 5:27 p.m. ET

Top Pick

No. 8 Adhamo (9-2) had a great second-place finish in his U.S. debut back in February. He should be able to move forward off that race and it appears the connections will be sending out a rabbit for him to run after in No. 4 Tribhuvan (5-1) as well. Adhamo has the best late pace figures in this race and will be flying late to try running down his stablemate.

Live Contenders for Exotic Wagering

No. 3 Public Sector (5-1) was stuck down on the rail for most of the race last time out at Del Mar. After he was able to get out, he was moving best late. With his stalking style, I don’t love his post, but if he can workout a trip he stands a big chance at a square price.

Conti’s Bets: Win — No. 8 Adhamo

Race 12 — Kentucky Derby

Distance: 1 1/4 Miles

Surface: Dirt

Post Time: 6:57 p.m. ET

Top Pick

No. 1 Mo Donegal (8-1) is coming in off an impressive win in the Wood Memorial, where he had to navigate significant traffic, rode the rail and then swung out late to get up for the win. The son of Uncle Mo should relish the extra furlong in the Derby as well.

With the new finish line and starting gate, the rail post position is no longer an automatic toss. With his running style and the expected pace, I expect Ortiz Jr. to be able to work out a trip to put him in position coming around the turn for home to explode in the stretch.

Live Contenders for Exotic Wagering

No. 6 Messier (7-1) is one of two former Bob Baffert horses now trained by Tim Yakteen. He has a similar running style and prep season to the late Medina Spirit (last year’s Derby winner, who was later disqualified). This is his second start off the layoff and he might have needed that race in the Santa Anita Derby after pressuring the speed before getting swallowed up late.

No. 12 Taiba (5-1) is the other former Baffert horse in Yakteen’s barn. He was an absolute beast in the Santa Anita, drawing away to win by more than two lengths. He’s the most lightly raced horse in the field, with only two starts under his belt. While the inexperience causes some concern, his running style and speed figures give confidence that equal, if not, outweigh the concerns.

No. 3 Epicenter (5-1) hasn’t done much wrong in his young career, with four wins from six career starts. He comes in off two consecutive graded stakes wins, both in impressive fashion. He’s one of only three horses to post a Beyer Speed Figure more than 100, with the other two being Messier and Taiba.

No. 10 Zandon (8-1) is the talk of the town after his victory in the Blue Grass Stakes and the way he’s been working leading into the main event. In the Blue Grass, he was able to work out a trip to close well and dominate the field. He’s currently too short of a price to make a win bet on, but he’s a serious contender and one to use in vertical and horizontal wagers.

No. 19 Zozos (39-1) ran a good second in the Louisana Derby against Epicenter last time out. There wasn’t any pace in that race, which forced Zozos to take the lead even though that’s not his style. With the likely solid pace in this race, he should be able to sit a stalking trip. And as long as he doesn’t get caught too wide going into the first turn, he’s my longshot play.

Conti’s Bets: Win — No. 1 Mo Donegal (8-1)
Trifecta Box — 1 | 3 | 6 | 10 | 12 | 19

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