2023 Kentucky Derby Expert Picks and Predictions

“The most exciting two minutes in sport” is almost upon us. Around 150,000 people will descend upon Churchill Downs on Saturday, May 7, with many more watching around the world. But where will your money be going? If you need a little help making your Kentucky Derby picks, fear not!

On this page we’ll share a whole host of useful information to help you place a winning bet. We’ll discuss the various betting markets available, share our expert Derby day picks and reveal the best sites at which to bet.

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Who are the Favourites for 2022 Kentucky Derby?

This page is the place to be if you need help finding the best Kentucky Derby odds and picks. But, before we get onto the latter, we’d better have a look at the former. 

Here are the current odds, hand picked from a selection of our top-rated online sportsbooks for horse racing betting.

Horse BetOnline XBet MyBookie BetUS Bovada BUSR
Epicenter +500 +500 +500 +450 +300 +500
Zandon +500 +550 +550 +500 +500 +550
Taiba +700 +550 +550 +750 +600 +550
Messier +800 +600 +600 +900 +700 +600
White Abarrio +1000 +1025 +1025 +1150 +1200 +1025
Mo Donegal +1200 +1230 +1230 +900 +1100 +1230
Smile Happy +1600 +1635 +1635 +1700 +1600 +1635
Charge It +1600 +1415 +1415 +1350 +1200 +1415
Crown Pride +2500 +1500 +1500 +2800 +2000 +1500
Cyberknife +2200 +1840 +1840 +2000 +1600 +1840
Simplification +2500 +2600 +2600 +2100 +2200 +2600
Zozos +2500 +3120 +3120 +2200 +3300 +3120
Tiz The Bomb +3300 +3120 +3120 +2700 +2800 +3120
Pioneer Of Medina +4000 +4050 +4050 +3100 +3300 +4050
Barber Road +3300 +3700 +3700 +3600 +4000 +3700
Classic Causeway +3300 +3300 +3300 +3300 +4000 +3300
Tawny Port +3300 +5500 +5500 +3500 +5000 +5500
Happy Jack +6600 +7500 +7500 +6000 +6600 +7500
Summer Is Tomorrow +6600 +9000 +9000 +6500 +6600 +9000
Ethereal Road +6600 +5500 +5500 +6100 +6600 +5500

The Sports Daily’s Kentucky Derby Expert Picks

Now the moment you’ve all been waiting for. It’s time to reveal our Kentucky Derby expert picks! Let’s start at the beginning, with our tip to win the Churchill Downs showpiece event.

Our Kentucky Derby Pick to Win

The first of our Kentucky Derby picks is Messier to win the race.

Although Tim Yakteen is listed on the program, we all know that both Taiba and Messier are really Bob Baffert horses. The controversial trainer will have to sit out this year’s Run for the Roses with a 90-day suspension. But he’s claimed this prize three times in the last seven years and his runners always have a chance.

Of the two, Taiba was most impressive when winning the Santa Anita Derby on April 9. However, Messier needed that run and will be in tip-top condition come Derby day as a result. Further, Taiba lacks big field experience. Coming out on top against 19 others is quite different to winning in a field of just six.

Our top pick: 

Messier to win the Kentucky Derby @ +900 with MyBookie

$10 with MyBookie returns $100

Kentucky Derby Top 3 Picks

Our next two Kentucky Derby picks are horses that we expect to finish in and around the top 3, without actually winning the race. We’ll start with the favorite Epicenter, who has been undeniably impressive in his prep races. However, Steve Asmussen’s bay colt just looks too short of a price. There are other better value alternatives and that’s why we prefer Messier at the current odds.

That said, the horse is a clear favorite for good reason. He destroyed the Gun Runner field, before landing the Risen Star and the Louisiana Derby en route to Churchill Downs. You’ll struggle to find much to complain about in his form. And with experienced jockey Joel Rosario in the saddle, he looks a sure thing for a top 2 finish.

Rounding out our top 3 picks, we have Mo Donegal. Todd Pletcher’s bay colt landed a couple of prep races at Aqueduct and did well in the Holy Bull. Despite the short run-in not really suiting him, the colt ran on strongly in what looked to be a useful prep run. He won’t be among the shortest price favorites, but looks primed for a big race.

Our picks: 

Epicenter to place 

Mo Donegal to show 

Longshot Picks for the Kentucky Derby

Next up, we’ll share a couple of 2022 Kentucky Derby picks at bigger prices. One that we really like the look of to potentially win the race is Smile Happy. 

An impressive winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club back in November, the colt has already proven himself at the Churchill Downs venue. The infamous Mattress Mack has been sweet on Kenny McPeek’s runner too, backing him repeatedly since that race. A fact that will likely garner attention from punters on race day.

In terms of Kentucky Derby sleeper picks, Un Ojo would be an amazing story. So named due to the fact that he literally has just one eye, he’s been completely written off. Despite showing a few snippets of ability in prep races, including a success at Oakland Park, pundits suggest he has no chance. We think that he’s being massively underrated.

Our picks: 

Smile Happy to win the Kentucky Derby @ +1600 with Bovada

Un Ojo to win the Kentucky Derby @ +6600 with XBet

Exotic Picks for the Kentucky Derby

No list of Kentucky Derby 2022 picks would be complete without some exotic bets! Although these are much harder to land, the payouts can be extraordinary. They are popular with punters who want to bet a small amount to try and win huge sums. 

In this section, we’ll share our Kentucky Derby exotic picks for the 2022 race.

Exacta Picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

If you didn’t already know, an Exacta requires you to pick the race winner and the runner-up, in the exact order. There is a minimum stake of $2 and a dividend will be declared after the race is over.

Essentially, our Kentucky Derby Exacta picks itself, based on our earlier choices. We think that Messier is a great value bet to win, while Epicenter is likely to finish in the front two. So naturally, that’s our Exacta prediction too.

Our picks: 

1st: Messier 

2nd: Epicenter 

Trifecta Picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

The Trifecta is much like an Exacta, only you need to find the top 3 finishers in the correct order. This makes it considerably harder, so the payouts tend to be greater as a result. A minimum stake of $0.50 is required.

Our prediction for the Kentucky Derby Trifecta picks itself too, based on our earlier analysis. We already know our first two picks. And since we fancy Mo Donegal to show, he’ll round out our Trifecta.

Our picks: 

1st: Messier 

2nd: Epicenter

3rd: Mo Donegal

Superfecta Picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

With a minimum stake of just $0.10, the Superfecta is a fun way to try and win a huge prize. In order to do so, you’ll need a total of four Kentucky Derby picks. The aim is to try and predict the first four horses to cross the line, in the precise order.

Smile Happy is the choice to complete our four Kentucky Derby 2022 Superfecta picks. The horse has every chance of running a big race on the day and could spring a surprise. But we’ll be shocked if he doesn’t make the first four.

Our picks: 

1st: Messier 

2nd: Epicenter

3rd: Mo Donegal

4th: Smile Happy

Super Hi-Five Picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

The Super Hi-Five is known for paying out massive, potentially life-changing jackpots. It sounds easy to pick the first five finishers in the exact order, but it’s an incredibly tough feat to accomplish. That’s why the 2021 Super Hi-Five Bet paid out nearly $300,000 for a $1 stake!

The last of our Kentucky Derby picks to complete our Super Hi-Five prediction is Taiba. The other Tim Yakteen horse in the field, he ran well to claim the Santa Anita Derby. Another big run is expected here, though a lack of big field experience might cost him a front three finish.

Our picks: 

1st: Messier 

2nd: Epicenter

3rd: Mo Donegal

4th: Smile Happy

5th: Taiba

Who are our Best 3 Picks for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

Okay, you’ve now seen all of our predictions, but which of these are our Kentucky Derby best picks? Let’s take a look.

Tip 1: Messier to win the Kentucky Derby

Our strongest fancy is Tim Yakteen’s Messier. Aside from the form shown so far, there’s an added boost in the shape of John Velazquez. This highly experienced jockey has ridden the Derby winner twice in the past five years.

Tip 2: Messier to beat Epicenter

Our Exacta prediction of Messier to beat Epicenter seems like a great bet. The favorite has looked so good in recent months that we don’t see him finishing outside of the top two.

Tip 3: Smile Happy to win the Kentucky Derby

Smile Happy is our longshot pick to win the race. The horse can be backed at a generous price, perhaps because it’s already been beaten by the favorite. However, in that race, Smile Happy did not enjoy a clear run until it was too late. With better luck in-running, we might see a surprise. 

Kentucky Derby Trends & Stats You Should Know

Ahead of any wagering on the Kentucky Derby, it’s good to know what the stats and data say. This info comes with no guarantees of picking the winner, but you can and should make better-informed decisions. Here are our top 5 Kentucky Derby trends ahead of this year’s race:

1. Jockeys & Trainers:

Following certain riders and barns can pay off. Although the joint-winningest trainer in Kentucky Derby history, Bob Baffert, currently serves a ban from training horses, there are others who know what it takes to win.

Both Doug O’Neill and Todd Pletcher have two victories in the big one at Churchill Downs since 2010. O’Neill relies on outsider Happy Jack this year. Pletcher runs three in the Kentucky Derby: Mo Donegal, Charge It and Pioneer Of Medina.

The winningest active jockey, meanwhile, is John Velazquez with three successful rides since 2010. He is in the saddle aboard leading Kentucky Derby contender Messier in his bid for a fourth victory.

2. Post Position:

The luck of the draw is essential, because the gate number horses come out of at Churchill Downs can make or break their chances. Anything at the low end of post positions may struggle for a clear passage through the race.

Horses drawn in Gates 1-3 historically struggle with Kentucky Derby trends showing Gate 8 and above producing 64%, almost two-thirds, of winners this century. It is easier to get a clear run on the outer, even if that means a wider route around the bend into the home stretch.

3. Favorites:

There have been times when the advice would be to avoid the Kentucky Derby favorite. The game has changed in recent years, though. Six consecutive favorites captured The Run For The Roses between 2013 and 2018, greatly enhancing their modern record in the race.

In fact, if you had wagered on the favorite every year from 2008 onwards, you would have a 50% hit rate of finding Kentucky Derby winners. That’s an even chance so oddsmakers’ market leader should always be respected.

4. Winning Prep Races:

Ideally, every horse would come into an event as big as the Kentucky Derby off the back of victories. Data and stats support wagering on previous winners.

Some eight consecutive Kentucky Derby heroes from 2011 to 2018 all took their final prep race en route to Churchill Downs. That stat explains why four out of five horses (81%) in the last 11 years came into the main event off a win.

5. Key Trials:

Some prep races are better than others for producing Kentucky Derby winners, though. By far the best this century so far is the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park with six horses landing both races.

Across America in California, meanwhile, the Santa Anita Derby is responsible for four winners since 2012. Three of those won both races, while a second place in 2020 went one better at Churchill Downs, albeit in a year when Covid caused changes to the program.

Top Kentucky Derby Betting Sites

Now that you know our Kentucky Derby picks, it’s time for us to share our top rated horse racing betting sites

  • XBet – Our top-rated site for betting on horse racing
  • MyBookie – Bet on all the top races from Churchill Downs
  • Sportsbetting.ag – Well respected US betting brand
  • BetUS – Plenty of bonuses to be found at this sportsbook
  • BetOnline – Easy to use app with Kentucky Derby futures odds
  • BUSR – One of the best Kentucky derby betting sites in the USA
  • Bovada – Global name is sports betting with racing streams
  • GT Bets – Strong rewards program at this top sportsbook
  • Everygame – Formerly the respected betting site Intertops
  • Betanysports – Enjoy cashback when betting on horses

What are Kentucky Derby Picks?

Kentucky Derby picks are just horses that have been chosen to win the big race. You are free to pick your own selections, of course. But if you’re not an experienced racing bettor, you might prefer to follow an expert’s picks.

Our own Kentucky Derby free picks are available to read right here on this page. We study form and analyse the odds to find the horses which offer the best value bets. Past experience at the track, the record of both the jockey and trainer, plus the horse’s pedigree all come into play.

Where can you Find Expert Picks for the Kentucky Derby?

In addition to our own Kentucky Derby picks, there are plenty of other places to seek out expert advice. You can pay for services offered by racing analysts with experience in handicapping. Bob Weir is one such example.

Other sources of top Vegas picks for the Kentucky Derby in 2022 include Forbes, DRF.com and the official Kentucky Derby website.

How do you Make Picks and Predictions for the Kentucky Derby?

So you’ve made your selections and now you need to know how to bet on the Kentucky Derby. Happily, we’re here to help. Simply follow the below steps to get started.

Step 1: Find the racecard

The first thing to do before making Kentucky Derby picks is find the racecard. You can get hold of this at many different places, including the official website of the Kentucky Derby. 

Step 2: Study the form

Identify which horses ran well in the Kentucky Derby prep races. Check out the timings and see how they stack up to past winners of the big race. Look out for well-known trainers and jockeys who’ve previously tasted success. Try to find a horse with a running style that suits the Churchill Downs track.

Step 2 Study the Kentucky Derby form

Step 3: Compare the odds

Now you have an idea of some picks, compare the odds with the many different legal sportsbooks found online. You want to find the biggest price possible in order to get the maximum value.

Step 4: Choose your site

Select one of our top-rated betting apps or websites and register an account. The process will only take a couple of minutes. You’ll then need to fund the account using your preferred deposit method. BetUS is one of the best horse racing bookmakers.

Step 4 Choose your Kentucky Derby site

Step 5: Place your bets

Once your new account is ready to go, you’ll have to navigate to the racebook and find the Kentucky Derby odds. Pick out your horses, add them to the bet slip and enter the stake. Don’t forget that you can wager using any free bets earned as part of your welcome bonus.

Step 5 Place your kentucky derby bets

Kentucky Derby Picks and Parlays

The final section of our Kentucky Derby picks and analysis guide concerns parlays. A parlay is any kind of bet which contains two or more independent outcomes. For instance, if you bet on a horse to win the Kentucky Derby and a team to win the Superbowl, that would be a parlay. Both options have to win and the payout will be much greater as a result.

You will not be allowed to bet on multiple events within the same race, however. So if you think Messier will win and Mo Donegal will show, you cannot bet those two picks as a parlay. That’s because one outcome influences the other.

A popular parlay involves trying to pick both the winner of the Kentucky Derby and the Kentucky Derby Oaks.

Example: Echo Zulu to win the Kentucky Oaks and Messier to win the Kentucky Derby

FAQs

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