Kentucky Derby 2022 Picks, Analysis and Wagering Strategy


#6 MESSIER (Empire Maker/ Smart Strike), 8-1

103 Beyer, 108 Brisnet, 127 Timeform

Pros: Holds the highest Beyer speed figure in the field around two turns for his Lewis score (103) at 8.5f two starts back, and ran a respectable 99 when 2nd last out in the Santa Anita Derby. All told, that accounts for two of the top four Beyers around two turns in the entire field. The speed figures are strong across the board here and the most well-rounded in the field, as he ranks in top three per not only Beyer but also Brisnet and Timeform. Royally bred son of Empire Maker derives from the highly successful Mr. Prospector sire line, and seems well-suited for classic distances. Trainer Tim Yakteen is also 28% with colts running second off the lay, and this one shows ascending Brisnet figures over all six career starts while figuring to improve once again with the added distance. Brisnet Late Pace figures don’t jump off the page but still look solid in this group, earning a career best 102 in defeat last out. Draws an ideal post just outside of the speed with Velazquez- who has wired the last two Derbys- remaining aboard.

Cons: While there aren’t any statistical red flags here, it’s admittedly difficult to elevate his chances above that of stablemate Taiba, who beat him on the square in a small field last out in a spot where Messier needed the points to earn entry to this race. Transferred from the Bob Baffert barn over to Yakteen after Churchill Downs imposed a ban on Baffert, this will be a hard one to root for. There is also some concern about his will to win in the stretch.

Conclusion: If searching for some excuse for the runner-up finish last out, it’s notable that he tracked a pretty torrid pacesetter while the winner received more of a stalking trip while those two did the dirty work. He also may not have been fully cranked after the layoff and the barn switch, and may have needed the race to regain optimal fitness. From a trend standpoint, 2nd place in the Santa Anita Derby hasn’t been a bad place to be, as the past two Derby winners have finished in that spot easily beaten, were pace types, and both had a connection to Bob Baffert. More seasoned than his stable mate and looms a major player for the win at what would be a somewhat astonishing price; he’s never been higher than 7-5 in six career starts. A must use on top.

#3 EPICENTER (Not This Time/Candy Ride), 7-2

102 Beyer, 101 Brisnet, 118 Timeform

Pros: The only two-time winner in the field at 9f and beyond on American dirt, Steve Asmussen’s charge has done nothing wrong racing his last four at the Fairgrounds, most recently winning the 9.5f Louisiana Derby while posting career high speed figures, and winning the 9f Risen Star before that. The versatility shown while winning the former and rating off the pace was exactly the type of prep race you want to see before this one, as he came home in an impressive :36.34 for the final 3/8 and earning a 106 Brisnet Late Pace figure. Checks a lot of boxes as Joel Rosario retains the mount.

Cons: The main drawback here is the six-week layoff leading up to this, as Louisiana Derby runners have not ever won this race. There is also some concern about the quality of that particular field, or if he would have held on in the Risen Star against today’s foes Zandon and Smile Happy had that race been contested a bit further. Draws inside the main speed here with closers to his inside, so getting pinned down on the rail is possible from a less than ideal post, and it bears mention that his prior two wins have come via much easier trips and setups than seem likely to be attainable here.

Conclusion: Dangerous on form alone, and the Fairgrounds may be on to something adding distance to its main preps. This is one of five that can win in our eyes, and should be used defensively in multi-race wagers, but may be worth trying to beat for the top spot in verticals and outrights as the speed figures seem just a cut below what odds like these should demand, and Asmussen’s Derby record leaves a lot to be desired. A Timeform of 118 would not have been fast enough to win any of the last 18 Derbys, and the feeling here is that he may be forced to exert too much energy early from the inside.

#19 ZOZOS (Munnings/ Forestry), 20-1

97 Beyer, 98 Brisnet, 116 Timeform

Pros: Finished well and was not disgraced when beaten 2.5 lengths by Epicenter last out while setting the pace in the Louisiana Derby in only his third career start, and can be forward here as well. Has shown ascending Brisnet figures in all three career starts to date.

Cons: The distinct sprinter pedigree is a cause for concern, with notably low Average Winning Distance numbers for sire and damsire (6.4/6.3f) that rate as the lowest in the field. Lightly raced with only three career starts, did not race as a two-year old, and will also be coming off of a six week layoff for trainer Brad Cox. There weren’t many to draw worse than this one, who wants to be forwardly placed but will need to clear the field from a wide post in order to get there.

Conclusion: Too much too soon? The combination of the lightly raced resume and the concerns about the distance pedigree lead us to look elsewhere for spots on our tickets, but this one could have a bright future and would not surprise to take a step forward here.

#4 SUMMER IS TOMORROW (Summer Front/ Badge of Silver), 30-1

91 Timeform

Pros: Looms the potential speed of the speed, which has been an asset here in recent runnings, and will have to send early from an inside post.

Cons: Came to a screeching halt when fading to finish 2nd in the UAE Derby, and does not have the look of a colt who wants to run beyond 9f. In fact, he has never won beyond 7f. Colts shipping from that race are 0/16 in Derby tries, finishing no better than 5th. Timeform is the only figure maker that creates numbers for Dubai races, and they didn’t come up strong at all for this one; the 91 given here is the field-low.

Conclusion: Has the look of a last place finisher. Someday a colt may win this race coming from Dubai, but this year’s American crop looks too talented for the trend to fall. Toss.

#17 CLASSIC CAUSEWAY (Giant’s Causeway/ Thunder Gulch ), 30-1

90 Beyer, 99 Brisnet, 113 Timeform

Pros: The lone Brisnet “E” designation figures to be sent from the start out of a wide post. The well-bred son of Giant’s Causeway has the best AWD numbers of the American bred colts (8.1/7.5), and ran well when wiring the 8.5 Tampa Bay Derby field before faltering last out.

Cons: About that last start…this colt was essentially eased to finish a distant last in his first 9f try. Julien Leparoux jumps on board for connections that initially defected and then decided to run after all, presumably after the defection of Early Voting softened the expected pace somewhat. Even in winning the Tampa Bay Derby, the 90 Beyer earned there leaves a lot to be desired, and the wide post draw for a bona fide frontrunner does no favors.

Conclusion: A colt factoring in this race after a last place finish in a final prep would be absolutely unprecedented, although it does appear there may have been a breathing issue that gives some some excuse. Still,connections acting wishy-washy is never what we want to see leading up to this race, where it seems everything needs to go perfectly in order to make an impact. Pass.


#12 TAIBA (Gun Runner/ Candy Ride), 12-1

102 Beyer, 110 Brisnet, 125 Timeform

Pros: The $1.7 million price tag is notably by far the most expensive colt in the field, which seems merited, as this appears to be the most talented and fastest colt in the field as well based on having run two triple digit Beyers (the first at 6f) and owning the highest Timeform speed figure at 9f. The 102 Beyer earned while winning the Santa Anita Derby convincingly last out over stable mate Messier in only his second career start is tied for the highest last out figure in the field. Perhaps even more impressive is that the 109 Brisnet Late Pace figure earned in that effort is the best of any colt not labeled as a closing type. Barring a bounce, the son of Gun Runner seems likely to improve next out, deriving from the successful classic distance sire line of Mr. Prospector, and drawing a terrific post to stalk outside the speed. Mike Smith, who knows a few things about winning this race, stays in the saddle.

Cons: Let’s just call this entire situationApollo on steroids.” Not only is this colt unraced as a two year old, but also has only two career starts, and only one came around two turns! Winning this race with a lack of seasoning on that level would be absolutely unprecedented stuff, especially going from the small fields at Santa Anita to the pandemonium that comes with the spectacle of a 20-horse Derby. Along with Messier, this colt was transferred to Tim Yakteen from the Bob Baffert barn in order to avoid being banned from competing here.

Conclusion: If he wins, the entire face of the sport likely changes, and not for the better if you are a fan of actually seeing horses race against one another. Outside of the Baffert connection, that alone is reason to play against him, and we are admittedly reminded of Rock Your World in a similar spot a year ago. However, the times they are a changin’. It would be difficult to tear up tickets because the most talented colt in the field won the race at seemingly elevated odds, seasoning and trends be damned, so it is advisable to give him some exposure on the top line. Taiba and Messier are the only colts in the field to rank in the top three by all three speed figure makers, so it would be no surprise at all to see them run 1-2 in some order again here, especially given how productive the Santa Anita Derby has been in recent years.

#15 WHITE ABBARIO (Race Day/ Into Mischief), 10-1

97 Beyer, 97 Brisnet, 114 Timeform

Pros: Impressive wins at Gulfstream where he is 4/4 lifetime culminated in an authoritative win in the 9f Florida Derby last out, and has never missed the board in five career starts. White as a ghost, which some enjoy, and always seems to outrun his perceived talent level.

Cons: As impressive as his Florida Derby win appeared visually, the closing fractions tell another story, as the final 3/8 was covered in an absolutely dismal :39.66, earning a 77 Brisnet Late Pace figure. That, combined with a pedigree that doesn’t scream 10f to begin with, is a cause for concern at odds that appear like an underlay to our eyes. Only career loss came in a start at Churchill as well, and the speed figures for the Florida Derby came up weak compared to the other major prep winners.

Conclusions: It is possible that the Florida prep circuit simply wasn’t very strong this year. We will take a strong stand against him to hit the board in this spot and try to find value elsewhere.

#13 SIMPLIFICATION (Not This Time/ Candy Ride), 20-1

96 Beyer, 95 Brisnet, 115 Timeform

Pros: Claim to fame came when winning the 8.5f Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream two back while earning career high speed figures. May have been best last out when 3rd in the Florida Derby after pressing a hot pace, and received the highest Timeform figure in that race for the effort. Figures to move up on an off track.

Cons: Perhaps the track was just playing deep and tiring, but he obviously came home even slower than the winner in the Florida Derby, fading badly and covering the final 3/8 in :40.41. He would need to take a pretty massive step forward figure-wise to factor, and having given up ground late in two of the last three races contested at shorter distances and with a pedigree geared towards the same, it is difficult to envision that situation improving while stretching out now.

Conclusion: This is a nice colt that should have some success as a mile- 8.5f type, but the 10f distance seems beyond his scope. Despite the arguably tougher trip, it would be difficult to elevate him too far above the foes that beat him in the Florida Derby, who are also not high on our list, so this is a pass.

#8 CHARGE IT (Tapit/ Indian Charlie), 20-1

95 Beyer, 94 Brisnet, 113 Timeform

Pros: Lightly raced with a ton of upside, was full of run when 2nd in the Florida Derby last out in stakes debut, and has been working impressively since that defeat. The post draw has to be seen as a positive, as the son of Tapit can tuck into a cozy position and save ground just off of the leaders. Works indicate a positive progression leading up to this.

Cons: Had every chance to win the Florida Derby, but greenness down the lane due to an overall lack of experience in only his third career start prevented it. Like all runners in that race, the closing fractions are a cause for alarm coming into the longer 10f race, and the speed figures are rather middling. Todd Pletcher trainee is still just a maiden winner and takes a big step up in class here yet again.

Conclusion: While he would probably be the one we wanted out of the Florida Derby if we wanted any, he figures to take money based on the connections, the post position, and being touted as somewhat of a wise guy horse with a ton of potential. However, this is not the day to back him in our eyes; get back to us around Belmont time. It would be a difficult leap to imagine a sudden improvement in professionalism significant enough to hit the board here and this has underlay written all over it, but, crazier things have surely happened.

#7 CROWN PRIDE (Reach The Crown/ King Kamehameha), 20-1

96 Timeform

Pros: Winner of the UAE Derby at 9.5f, one of only two colts in the field to win beyond 9f, and shows two wins at 9f as a two-year-old as well. Experienced and well-bred to handle longer distances, and figures to stick around awhile with a post that could deliver a sneaky good trip. Japanese bred with a Japanese owner and trainer, and Japan has been hot on the racing scene over the last year.

Cons: The UAE Derby curse is a real thing, as again, no runner exiting that race has ever finished better than 5th in this one. Neither runner closed well in terms of raw fractions, nor did Timeform respect the quality of the race from a speed standpoint, and both have to contend with a six week layoff plus a ship. Has won 3 of 4 career starts, but was off the board in the other over a sloppy track, so this could be one to disregard entirely if the rain comes. This race also likely represents a pretty significant class leap.

Conclusion: Easily the biggest wildcard in the field to our eyes, especially after working so well over the track this week, and may deliver one of the better races from a Dubai shipper in recent memory. We don’t view him as a win candidate, but the price may be right to include on the bottom of superfectas and potentially even trifectas as he is an almost certain bet to finish in the top half of the field.


#5 SMILE HAPPY (Runhappy/ Pleasant Tap), 20-1

94 Beyer, 95 Brisnet, 118 Timeform

Pros: A somewhat forgotten colt that not long ago was sitting at the top of most Derby lists who draws well here into a ground-saving post between two speeds. Has raced twice at 9f while finishing 2nd with wide trips in both tries, and has a win over the Churchill Downs dirt track at 8.5f as a two year old, blowing away the likes of today’s foes Classic Causeway and White Abbario. While the :38.18 final 3/8 posed in the Blue Grass is fairly middling, he did come in a much faster :36.43 when 2nd in the Risen Star race prior at the same distance, and has twice earned a 102 Brisnet Late Pace figure.

Cons: Pedigree is concerning for a distance this long, despite the strong breeding on the bottom side. Runhappy is perhaps our favorite sprinter of all time, but sadly, this is not a sprint race, quite the opposite in fact. Speed figs are below the mean as well, and have not improved significantly over the three-year old campaign.

Conclusion: A son of Runhappy is not winning the Kentucky Derby, and while he may hang on for a piece, the 2+ length gap between his 2nd place finishes to both Epicenter and Zandon don’t figure to decrease on the stretch out to 10f, which means a 3rd place finish is pretty much the ceiling. At 20-1, he might be our favorite longshot to include in that spot, however.

#9 TIZ THE BOMB (Hit It A Bomb/ Tiznow), 30-1

94 Beyer, 101 Brisnet, 118 Timeform

Pros: Winner of two straight over synthetic surfaces was flattered when the foe he bested in the 9f Jeff Ruby last out came back to win the 8.5f Lexington with a career best figure. This Ken McPeek trainee finished quite well in that race, covering the final 3/8 in an impressive :37.02, posting a 105 Brisnet Late Pace figure. Breeding is strong enough underneath to suggest that 10f should be desirable, and he does have an “off the turf” dirt win as a maiden.

Cons: Has contested two career races on true dirt, and both were absolute disasters resulting in two 7th place finishes by a combined 25 lengths. Still has yet to run a Beyer that would suggest a spot on the podium is within reach, and as the most heavily raced colt in the field, it is hard to imagine where the sudden improvement is going to come from. The win in the Jeff Ruby came with a wide trip that was advisable against an incredibly weak field, but connections have voiced dirt kickback as a concern in such a large field, and plan to change racing tactics accordingly.

Conclusions: Worth a look should the track come up wet, but it is very hard to look past his dirt form. The apparent desire by the connections to race more forwardly to avoid dirt kickback takes him out of his game to a certain extent. The pedigree and Late Pace figures do intrigue somewhat however, especially if the track comes up wet, but we can’t find any room for this guy.

#11 PIONEER OF MEDINA (Pioneer of the Nile/ Eskendereya), 30-1

93 Beyer, 96 Brisnet, 114 Timeform

Pros: Stoutly bred, the son of a Derby runner-up from the Mr. Prospector sire line and out of a dam sired by a colt that would have been a Derby favorite if not for injury. Ran on well when 3rd last out in the 9.5f Louisiana Derby and when 4th in the 9f Risen Star before that, covering the final 3/8 in :37.43 and :37.13 over those last two races, so he has seasoning at longer distances. Goes blinkers off here for Todd Pletcher and should stalk rather than press, perhaps leaving a bit more gas in the tank late.

Cons: Would seem to need to get over the hump from a speed figure standpoint, and it’s difficult to envision him turning the tables on the several foes that passed him in the lane that he meets again in this spot.

Conclusion: What you see is what you get with this guy, as he simply hasn’t proven himself while stepping up in class and finishing well behind the likes of Epicenter, Smile Happy, Zozos and Zandon, and that alone is enough to eliminate him from the superfecta. This feels like a mid-pack finisher at best.

#16 CYBERKNIFE (Gun Runner/ Flower Alley), 20-1

92 Beyer, 94 Brisnet, 114 Timeform

Pros: Improving quickly and coming off a career best effort after winning the 9f Arkansas Derby last out. Son of hot sire Gun Runner derives from the Mr. Prospector line. Has been training well and figures to step forward again on Saturday.

Cons: He will need to take a significant step forward to compete here as the speed figures are universal red flags with no dissenting opinions. The Arkansas circuit was likely the weakest of all of the Derby preps this winter and spring, and he was beaten 10 lengths by today’s foe Epicenter three starts back without much of an excuse. Came home in a slow :39.2 even in winning the Arkansas Derby, good for just an 86 Brisnet Late Pace figure. 

Conclusions: Some believe that this colt is Brad Cox’s best shot in this year’s race, but perhaps that tells us more about the strength of that hand than anything else. Feels like he may be overbet to boot; Pass.  

#18 TAWNY PORT (Pioneer of the Nile/ Macho Uno), 30-1

90 Beyer, 99 Brisnet, 116 Timeform

Pros: Wasn’t disgraced when 2nd two back in the 9f Jack Ruby over synthetic, and came back to win the Lexington two weeks later to earn the points to enter here, so we know he isn’t just a synthetic specialist. That figures, with a Derby-runner up that descended from Mr. Prospector on the top line of his pedigree.

Cons: The speed figures earned for the Lexington weren’t as strong as they were for the Ruby, so it’s fair to wonder if dirt is truly his best surface, even if he can handle it. Besides the low Beyer, there aren’t any immediate red flags, there just aren’t a ton of positives to separate him either. It is hard to overlook being handily beaten by Epicenter, Zandon, and Smile Happy in the Risen Star three back.

Conclusion: A potential bounce candidate as the campaign has been tough of late, with three races in 36 days, and now he takes a big time class leap. The feeling here is that this one is as middling as they come. Not a lot to truly dislike, and nothing to love. 10th place?


#10 ZANDON (Upstart/ Creative Cause), 3-1

98 Beyer, 103 Brisnet, 119 Timeform

Pros: Morning line favorite finally showed full capability to overcome less than ideal circumstances when winning the 9f Blue Grass last out in somewhat astonishing fashion.  Dead last early, he rallied into a slow pace to blow by the leaders in the lane and win convincingly, coming home in an impressive :36.43 for the final 3/8 and earning a 114 Brisnet Late Pace figure that looms second best here. Closer draws well in the middle of the field and might be expected to stay a bit more in touch with the leaders this time in order to fully mount an effective late kick. Has shown ascending Brisnet speed figures in all four career starts and should be expected to move forward yet again based on an impressive work pattern.

Cons: There aren’t any statistical red flags here, but we will pick some holes. There are certainly much better pedigrees for closers in this field, and it bears mention that none of the three speed ratings agencies see his Blue Grass performance in the top three of the field. A bad start cost him some positioning two back when 3rd in the 9f Risen Star, but he was still easily beaten by today’s foes Epicenter and Smile Happy, although he did turn the tables on the latter last out.

Conclusion: We only want to play one closer heavily on top in this race, and he isn’t the one. That is a combination of the fact that the 3-1 morning lines seem somewhat absurd given his resume (Remember, American Pharoah went off at 5-2) and the fact that there is another closer here that not only has better figures across the board in terms of both speed and late pace, but has also beaten him head to head. However, this is certainly a talented colt that could take another step forward and win, and therefore shouldn’t be dismissed entirely. Seems must-use in the 2nd and 3rd spots in exotics, and perhaps used begrudgingly in saver spots on top and in multis.

#1 MO DONEGAL (Uncle Mo/ Pulpit), 10-1

96 Beyer, 111 Brisnet, 121 Timeform

Pros: The simply insane closing fractions for his stunning last out win in the 9f Wood Memorial are the single best on dirt since we have been tracking it, the likes of which we have not ever seen on the Derby trail (:35.47 final 3/8, :11.93 final 1/8, 121 Brisnet Late Pace figure). Son of Uncle Mo ran down a tough, headstrong colt in Early Voting that seemed clear in the stretch that day, and one that wasn’t exactly losing steam either considering the fact that Early Voting finished his final 1/8 of a mile in a sizzling :12.30 in defeat. That win earned a field high Brisnet speed figure, and a Timeform figure that tops the field outside of the Santa Anita Derby top two (for those looking to play against the Baffert connections at all costs). Connections of trainer Todd Pletcher and jockey Irad Ortiz are as strong as they get, and this colt is well-bred to handle the added ground (AWD 7.5/ 7.5) aside from the fact that he’s visually begging to run longer, and would move up massively on a wet track being by a sire with 20% winners in off track circumstances. We’d be remiss to forget that he defeated today’s favorite Zandon in the 9f Remsen as a two-year old in an exciting stretch battle.

Cons: The unlucky post looms the only true red flag here outside of the usual race shape concerns with a runner who comes from the clouds the way this one does. Beyer was a bit cooler on his Wood Memorial figure-wise than some of the other preps. A bit of a no-show in his three-year old debut when 3rd in the shorter 8.5f Holy Bull, some will point to head to head defeats in that race to today’s foes White Abbario and Simplification while we point to the win over Zandon.

Conclusion: It bears mention that both his Remsen and Wood Memorial wins came from the #1 post. Those were smaller fields, but it goes to show that an inside post for a closer isn’t as detrimental as it is for pace types, and there is an argument to be made that the post is actual a benefit for his particular running style, a sentiment that certainly goes against conventional thought. Simply put, this is a better closer than Zandon by every numerical measure even outside of the fact that he has a head to head win against that one, and figures to be three times the price of that favorite. There are many trends that could be broken this year, but the one that figures to be the most ignored at the windows will be a horse from the #1 post winning for the first time in 36 years, as well as a closer wearing the roses for the first time since Orb in 2013. This just seems like a rare and extreme value play at these odds that may even drift up from here based on some bettors tossing the rail post at the windows; The Pick.

#14 BARBER ROAD (Race Day/ Southern Image), 30-1

86 Beyer, 92 Brisnet, 110 Timeform

Pros: Not many. Earns entry here by way of a distant 2nd place finish in the weakest 9f prep, the Arkansas Derby.

Cons: The speed figures certainly seem to bear out how up against it he seems to be in this spot, especially having had eight starts to improve them. With the one of the worst distance pedigrees in the field, the term “closer” should probably be used loosely considering he only came home in :39.15 for the final 3/8 last out. Yikes.

Conclusion: Grinding type will likely get the distance and is a trendy pick underneath in superfectas at what will be odds probably double this morning line. They would need to be about ten times this morning line to entice us to include; toss.

#2 HAPPY JACK (Oxbow/ Tapit), 30-1

83 Beyer, 97 Brisnet, 111 Timeform

Pros: Finished a well-beaten 3rd in the Santa Anita Derby, because some one had to; draws in on that basis. Well-bred, and extra distance should benefit closing type.

Cons: Field low Beyer of 83 is almost maiden-like, which makes sense, as he is still just a Maiden winner. Lightly raced with only three starts to date, did not race as a two-year old, and would seem to need several more starts to make the needed improvement to contend with these.

Conclusions: It is arguably ownership malpractice to even run in this race; last time we had that much conviction though Mine That Bird stuck the proverbial foot in our collective mouths. Anything can happen but this seems like an insane spot. An easy toss.

#20 ETHEREAL ROAD (Quality Road/ War Front), 30-1

84 Beyer, 91 Brisnet, 106 Timeform

Pros: Moderately good breeding, and did finish ahead of one foe here when holding off Barber Road for 2nd in the 8.5 Rebel.

Cons: Closers who don’t close well aren’t particularly interesting, and this one came home in just :39.23 for the final 3/8 when a distant 7th in the 9f Risen Star. Off the board completely in last two starts and took four tries to break his maiden, yet somehow still lands in the gate. Connections were not even going to enter him as an AE had he not drawn into the 20th spot. We are getting angry now.

Conclusion: Barber Road would have gotten him easily at 9f, let alone 10f.TOSS.


  1. Mo Donegal 10-1
  2. Messier 8-1
  3. Taiba 12-1
  4. Zandon 3-1
  5. Epicenter 7-2
  6. Smile Happy 20-1
  7. Crown Pride 20-1
  8. Charge It 20-1
  9. Tiz The Bomb 30-1
  10. Tawny Port 20-1
  11. White Abarrio 10-1
  12. Simplification 20-1
  13. Zozos 20-1
  14. Cyberknife 20-1
  15. Pioneer of Medina 30-1
  16. Classic Causeway 30-1
  17. Happy Jack 30-1
  18. Barber Road 30-1
  19. Ethereal Road 30-1
  20. Summer Is Tomorrow 30-1


With the likes of talented colts like Essential Quality, Tiz The Law, Maximum Security, Justify and American Pharoah racing here in recent years, it sure seems like it has been a long time since we have been eager to bet predominantly against the favorite on the top line, so this year presents somewhat of a rare opportunity. As tempting as it is to cover all bases, the real value of having this opinion is to leverage it with the three longer shots we like better than the favorites while using the favorites underneath and only in narrow saver bets on top. If avoiding the favorites on top or even in the second spot, it also makes sense to focus on exactas more narrowly while covering the 2nd place spot more heavily in trifectas, and pounding those heavier exacta combinations harder that don’t involve the two favorites, if you are so inclined. This simply doesn’t happen every year, and you only live once.

$10 WIN, $15 PLACE: Mo Donegal

$10 WIN, $15 PLACE: Messier

$2 Exacta Box: Mo Donegal, Messier ($4)

$2 Exacta Box: Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba ($12)

$1 Exacta Part Wheel: Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba/ Zandon ($3)

$1 Exacta Part Wheel: Zandon/ Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba($3)

$0.50 Trifecta: Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba/ Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba, Zandon, Epicenter/ Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba, Zandon, Epicenter, Smile Happy ($24)

$0.50 Trifecta: Zandon/ Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba/ Mo Donegal, Messier, Taiba, Epicenter ($4)

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