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Rick Lee’s Kentucky Derby Analysis

by Rick Lee | May 7, 2022 at 1:54 a.m.

Kentucky Derby. Grade I. Purse $3,000,000. 1 1/4 miles, 3-year-olds.


12 Taiba;Smith;Yakteen;12-1

COMMENT Is a $1.7 million son of champion Gun Runner, who showed big promise winning the Santa Anita Derby in only his second race. History may be against him, but he appears the type who will love the 10 furlongs.

10 Zandon;Prat;Brown;3-1

COMMENT Stamped himself as the one to beat when unleashing a powerful rally winning the Blue Grass by widening lengths, and he has powerful connections in Flavien Prat and Chad Brown.

3 Epicenter;Rosario;Asmussen;7-2

COMMENT Rated for the first time in the Louisiana Derby and responded brilliantly with an eye-catching move and a clear victory, which earned the fastest last-race Beyer figure.

15 White Abarrio;Gaffalione;Joseph;10-1

COMMENT Has been a clear winner in four of his five races, including the Florida Derby, but his one loss did come lat fall at Churchill in the Kentucky Jockey Club.

1 Mo Donegal;IOrtiz;Pletcher;10-1

COMMENT Won the Wood Memorial and Remsen in determined fashion, and he is a persistent finisher and he is unbeaten with Irad Ortiz in the saddle.

5 Smile Happy;Lanerie;McPeek;20-1

COMMENT Rallied to second behind Zandon at Keeneland, and Epicenter at Fair Grounds in 2022, but his powerful win at Churchill in the Kentucky Jockey Club last fall provides hope he can turn the table.

6 Messier;Velazquez;Takteen;8-1

COMMENT Finished second behind Taiba after pressing the pace in the Santa Anita Derby, and he may have needed the race following a three month freshening.

13 Simplification;JOrtiz;Sano;20-1

COMMENT Rallied to a big win in the Fountain of Youth, and may have been too close to the pace when finishing a respectable third as the post-time favorite in the Florida Derby.

16 Cyberknife;Geroux;Cox;20-1

COMMENT Is a rapidly improving colt who raced close to a fast pace before drawing off to a comfortable margin of victory in the Arkansas Derby.

8 Charge It;Saez;Pletcher;20-1

COMMENT Was forwardly placed when second best in the Florida Derby, and the lightly raced colt keeps top veteran rider Luis Saez.

7 Crown Pride;Lemaire;Shintani;20-1

COMMENT Has been full of run in recent workouts at Churchill, which followed a clear win in the UAE Derby, and Japanese-based runners were very good in the 2021 Breeders' Cup.

9 Tiz the Bomb;Hernandez;McPeek;30-1

COMMENT Is a one-run closer with graded stake victories on turf and synthetic surfaces, and he did break his maiden on dirt last summer at Ellis Park.

19 Zozos;Franco;Cox;20-1

COMMENT Set the pace in the Louisiana Derby and held on well to be second best behind Epicenter, and he has strong subsequent works and he appears to have a bright future.

11 Pioneer of Medina;Bravo;Pletcher;30-1

COMMENT Is having blinkers removed after setting the pace and tiring late in the Louisiana Derby, and he did have a big 5-furlong breeze April 25 at Churchill.

18 Tawny Port;Santana;Cox;30-1

COMMENT Scored a mild upset winning the Grade III Lexington last month at Keeneland, but rider Florent Geroux opted to ride Cyberknife instead of this colt.

14 Barber Road;Gutierrez;Ortiz;30-1

COMMENT Finished in the money in the Arkansas Derby and Rebel in his last two races at Oaklawn, and the consistent late-runner should benefit from an expected fast pace.

17 Classic Causeway;Leparoux;Lynch;30-1

COMMENT Finished second in the Kentucky Jockey Club last fall at Churchill, but he raced poorly in the Florida Derby after scoring a front-running win in the Tampa Derby.

20 Ethereal Road;Contreras;Lukas;30-1

COMMENT Earned the fastest Beyer figure of his career when fourth in the Grade III Lexington, which means he has almost no shot of an upset.

2 Happy Jack;Bejarano;O'Neill;30-1

COMMENT Has been beaten double digit lengths in three consecutive graded stake races, and he is likely to get major kick-back after racing in small fields in California.

4 Summer Is Tomorrow;Barzalona;Seemar;30-1

COMMENT Is an exceptionally quick colt, who was not match for Crown Pride in the UAE Derby, and the abundance of opposing speed only hurts his chances all the more.

22 Rattle N Roll;Graham;McPeek;30-1

COMMENT Is having blinkers removed after a dull effort in the Blue Grass, and he may be passing tired rivals if lucky enough to draw into the field.

21 Rich Strike;Leon;Reed;30-1

COMMENT Has only one win in his career, which was a maiden-claiming one-turn victory last September at Churchill.

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