Doug O’Neill can become just the seventh trainer to win three times when he sends out long shot Happy Jack in the 2022 Kentucky Derby on Saturday at Churchill Downs. The 53-year-old O’Neill won the Kentucky Derby in 2012 with I’ll Have Another and 2016 with Nyquist. This year, he’ll go for No. 3 with Happy Jack, who is a 30-1 long shot in the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds but is expected to leave the starting gate much higher. He is coming off a third place finish in the Santa Anita Derby. Zandon (3-1) and Epicenter (7-2), whose trainers, Chad Brown and Steve Asmussen, respectively, have never won a Kentucky Derby, are the top choices on the morning line. Post time is 6:57 p.m. ET. Before making any 2022 Kentucky Derby picks, you need to see what legendary handicapper Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg is saying.
The former horse racing analyst for ESPN and NBC, Goldberg became a legendary handicapper by going straight to the source. In 2004, he had dinner before the Belmont Stakes with trainer Nick Zito at a pizzeria in Queens. The dinner led Goldberg to play Zito’s 36-1 monster long shot Birdstone to win and on top of his exacta, trifecta and superfecta bets. When Birdstone shocked the world, Goldberg won $24,000.
His success has continued at SportsLine. In the San Felipe Stakes in March 2020, Hammer gave out a $20 exacta that paid 9-1. In the 2020 Belmont Stakes, Goldberg was all over Tiz the Law, who scored a convincing victory in the year’s first Triple Crown race. Hammer also nailed the exacta in the Blue Grass Stakes, Haskell Stakes and Pacific Classic that year.
And last year he hit the Essential Quality-Hot Rod Charlie exacta in the Belmont Stakes. Now, Goldberg has studied the 2022 Kentucky Derby horses and released his picks and analysis only at SportsLine.
Top 2022 Kentucky Derby predictions, best bets
One surprise: Goldberg is completely tossing Zandon, even though he is the morning-line favorite at 3-1. A $170,000 purchase two years ago, Zandon established himself as a legitimate Kentucky Derby hopeful when he finished second in the Remsen Stakes by a nose to Mo Donegal. In his last start, Zandon became the 2022 Kentucky Derby favorite with a rousing last-to-first victory in the Blue Grass Stakes.
But Zandon has not shown this year the kind of early speed that he had last year, and that lack of tactical speed could cost him on Saturday when trying to establish position in the 20-horse rodeo of the Kentucky Derby. Goldberg doesn’t have Zandon in his top six and won’t use Zandon in any wagers.
Another shocker: Hammer is high on 20-1 long shot Smile Happy. Trained by Ken McPeek, Smile Happy burst onto the scene as a Kentucky Derby hopeful in late November when he won the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs by more than three lengths. The victory made him the early 2022 Kentucky Derby favorite.
Smile Happy has finished second in both starts this year, but those losses came against two major 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders, Epicenter and Zandon. “Trainer Ken McPeek called me and said that Smile Happy gives him his best chance to win the Kentucky Derby,” Hammer told SportsLine. “McPeek likes this horse a lot.” Goldberg is using Smile Happy prominently in his 2022 Kentucky Derby bets.
How to make 2022 Kentucky Derby picks, bets
Hammer’s top choice is a horse who can “save ground from his post position.” He also is high on a big double-digit long shot who “has the speed to avoid a lot of trouble.” Goldberg is including these horses in his 2022 Kentucky Derby bets, and so should you. He’s sharing his predictions for the top 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders here.
Who wins the 2022 Kentucky Derby? What big double-digit long shot is a must-back? And how has Goldberg constructed his wagers? Check out the latest 2022 Kentucky Derby odds below, then visit SportsLine to see Goldberg’s picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby, all from the legendary expert who has nailed Triple Crown races.