John Velazquez thought he moved into a tie with the legendary Bill Shoemaker for the second-most Kentucky Derby wins of all-time when he rode Medina Spirit across the finish line first last year. However, his fourth career victory in the race, and second in a row, was rescinded when the horse was disqualified after testing positive for an illegal drug. Velazquez will attempt to recoup the win when he mounts Messier on Saturday in the 2022 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Messier, who finished second in the Santa Anita Derby last month, is 8-1 in the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds, while Zandon is the 3-1 favorite. Other top 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders include Epicenter (7-2), Mo Donegal and White Abarrio (both 10-1), and Taiba (12-1). The 2022 Kentucky Derby post time is 6:57 p.m. ET. The 2022 Kentucky Derby date is Saturday, May 7. Before you make any Kentucky Derby 2022 predictions, you’ll want to see what astute racing reporter and analyst Michelle Yu’s 2022 Kentucky Derby picks and analysis.
Few people in racing are as connected as Yu. An on-air host and reporter who has provided racing analysis for TVG, HRTV and the Breeders’ Cup, Yu has spent a lifetime in racing. Prior to her television career, she worked for trainers Steve Asmussen and Ron Moquett. She also is married to Santa Anita-based trainer Ryan Hanson.
She also has tremendous handicapping chops. In the 2011 Kentucky Derby, she correctly tabbed Animal Kingdom to win at a hefty 21-1. In the 2017 Breeders’ Cup, she nailed 11-1 long shot Wuheida to win the Filly and Mare Turf. Last year in a wide-open Kentucky Derby, she gave out Medina Spirit, who crossed the finish line first, as the winner at 12-1.
Since joining SportsLine in November, her picks have cashed in six of 12 races, including the exacta in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. On Friday, she nailed the 2022 Kentucky Oaks winner, Secret Oath. Anyone who has followed her is way up.
Now, Yu has handicapped the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds, made her picks and constructed her bets. Click here to see them.
Top 2022 Kentucky Derby predictions, expert analysis
One surprise: Yu is fading Messier, even though he is one of the top 2022 Kentucky Derby favorites at 8-1. In fact, Yu says Messier barely cracks the top 10. The three-year-old colt’s speed declined over his Kentucky Derby prep races, with his Beyer Speed Figure dipping from 103 at the Robert B. Lewis Stakes on February 6 to 99 at the Santa Anita Derby two months later.
The Santa Anita Derby was also Messier’s first race at 1 1/8 miles, and the added length resulted in the colt slowing down late and finishing runner-up to Kentucky Derby opponent Taiba. Yu believes the 1 1/4-mile track at Churchill Downs will cause Messier to slow down the stretch yet again despite being one of the 2022 Kentucky Derby favorites entering the race.
Yu has locked in her 2022 Kentucky Derby picks for Epicenter, the second favorite at 7-2. After finishing sixth in his debut, the horse went on to win four of his next five starts, including the Louisiana Derby on March 26. His last two victories have been by more than five combined lengths.
Epicenter has an established jockey in Joel Rosario, who has won the Belmont Stakes twice and captured the crown in the 2013 Kentucky Derby with Orb. In addition, the horse is trained by Steve Asmussen, who has notched the most wins in North American history, three of which came in Triple Crown races.
Yu also has a strong read on Zandon, the top favorite in the latest Kentucky Derby odds 2022 at 3-1. The horse has experienced connections guiding him: trainer Chad Brown and jockey Flavien Prat. Brown won the Preakness Stakes in 2017 with Cloud Computing, while Prat rode Rombauer to victory in that race last year and also picked up the win in the 2019 Kentucky Derby with Country House.
Zandon won his debut race in October at Belmont Park, but followed with second- and third-place finishes in his first two 1 1/8-mile races. The third time proved to be a charm, as he beat Smile Happy by 2 1/2 lengths to take the Blue Grass Stakes on April 9 at Keeneland. “His Blue Grass victory was very impressive, and that closing kick is a dangerous weapon,” Yu told SportsLine.
How to make 2022 Kentucky Derby picks, bets
Yu’s top pick is an overlooked horse who has the “speed to press and has top connections.” Yu is also high on an enormous long shot who is her “must-use-in-exotics horse.” She said this colt “has shown race after race that he belongs in the Kentucky Derby.” She is including these horses in her 2022 Kentucky Derby bets, and so should you. She’s sharing which horses to back only at SportsLine.
Where do Messier, Taiba and Epicenter, and every other horse finish in the 2022 Kentucky Derby? And which enormous long shot is a must-back? Check out the Kentucky Derby odds 2022 below, then visit SportsLine to see Yu’s picks for the Kentucky Derby, all from the expert who nailed last year’s winner on Derby Day.