Don't leave these 2022 Kentucky Derby Horses Off Your Tickets
It's finally May. It feels like forever since last year. As horse players, we are in the trenches all winter watching prep races and making cases for the horses to be around in May. It starts slow. 10 point races spread out by weeks. Slowly as it warms up, near the end of winter, we are watching 50 and 100 point races week after week. We stalk the Kentucky Leaderboard, as our hopefuls climb to get into the top 20. Halfway into April, we have our final standings. From there, we watch every workout. Read every clocker report. Hang on every word their trainers say. It's all we have as we form opinions and take stances for that first Saturday in May. And just like that, it's Saturday. We've waited a year for this and it'll be over in 2 minutes. Make sure you have the winner on your ticket, as it is a long year waiting for the next one.
Last year, I had Medina Spirit really early on. There were certainly other horses I liked that missed the derby, but as for the horses that made it, Medina Spirit was a single for me. At 12/1 odds, Medina Spirit crossed the wire first and sent Karma absolutely mental. There were a lot of big wins that day. I want to share this year, 3 horses that will be on my tickets.
Mo Donegal is a horse that I liked since his win in the Remsen as a two year old. He wasn't elevated to my top horse until last month when he set the record for the fastest 3/8 finish to a final prep race. The Wood Memorial was not only good on paper, but it visually checked all the boxes. Mo Donegal had to rally from deep, but ran that final 3/8 in 35 seconds. There was traffic and he was able to navigate around. I'm not concerned with the 1 spot since he will be farther back and traffic isnt an issue. I also don't mind Uncle Mo being his sire. Uncle Mo has a reputation for not wanting to go the derby distance, but that was overturned when Nyquist won the Derby in 2016. The morning line favorite, Zandon, runs the same race as Mo Donegal, except Mo Donegal is faster and has Irad Ortiz on the mount. I'll take the discounted price of Mo Donegal as my top pick in the 2022 Kentucky Derby.
I'm sort of hoping Messier goes overlooked. After Taiba, more on him later, blew by Messier in the Santa Anita Derby, Messier has sort of become the Red Headed step-child. Morning Line oddsmaker did NOT let that Taiba win scare him off Messier as Taiba is a longer shot, but I expect Taiba's odds to go down while Messier may actually move up. I feel like Messier has had the same type of career as Medina Spirit leading up to the Kentucky Derby. The glaring comparison is when Medina Spirit lost to Rock Your World. From there, RYW was supposed to make noise in the Derby while Medina Spirits odds sat. Medina Spirit was eligble to improve off that performance and did. We don't know all the facts, but Messier's trainer is the same as Taiba's. The jockey could have been instructed not to go balls to the wall with Messier and for that fact, Taiba was able to win and get into the Derby. I think Messier will be in the perfect stalking position to take over down the stretch or final turn and run a huge race. Can we get 12/1 again?
Taiba is the last horse you should use on your ticket, even if defensively. This horse was a $1.7M purchase by the same owners of Medina Spirit. As the most expensive horse in this race, and least experienced, Taiba has done nothing wrong. He has posted back to back triple digit speed figures, which you love to see. Gun Runner is this year's Constitution and every Gun Runner baby has been winning. Taiba is no different, winning both of his races by a combined 10 lengths. But, that's where it ends. It's been over 100 years since a horse has won a Kentucky Derby on his 3rd career start. Also the fields in California are known to be small. Taiba having 19 other horses beside him will be a new experience. We don't know if this horse is going to be a monster or just a pawn, so 12/1 odds are pretty good on a horse that cost a lot and has done nothing wrong.