2022 Kentucky Derby contenders, odds, draw: Legendary expert who nailed Triple Crown races shares picks

It could be a wide-open affair on Saturday at the 2022 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter and Blue Grass Stakes champ Zandon have posted impressive recent runs. Zandon is the 3-1 favorite in the 2022 Kentucky Derby odds set by Churchill Downs linemaker Mike Battaglia, while Epicenter is 7-2. Chad Brown, trainer for Zandon, and Steve Asmussen, who is prepping Epicenter, are each seeking their first Kentucky Derby victory. Legendary trainer Bob Baffert will be absent while he serves a suspension for Medina Spirit’s failed drug test after winning last year’s Derby, a victory that was awarded to Mandaloun. Messier (8-1), Mo Donegal (10-1) and White Abarrio (10-1) also are among the 2022 Kentucky Derby contenders. 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. Goldberg believes the race could start at a faster pace than expected. That would force the colt to work harder to keep up, which could throw a wrench into his typical approach of closing from off the pace. Zandon showed an impressive late kick in his triumph at Keeneland to run away at the end. He covered the final furlong far faster than any other horse, but he had energy in reserve off the comfortable pace.

Zandon finished a disappointing third in his previous outing, with Epicenter dominating from wire-to-wire and winning by nearly three lengths at the Risen Star Stakes. Zandon also was edged by Mo Donegal in the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct in December and won his maiden race at Belmont in October. Brown has kept his charge on a light schedule, and Weir isn’t sure he has been tested enough to negotiate this 20-horse 2022 Kentucky Derby field. “I’m not convinced he’s the right favorite in this race based on what he’s done,” Goldberg told SportsLine.

Another shocker: Hammer is high on 20-1 long shot Smile Happy. A son of 2015 champion sprinter Runhappy, Smile Happy has two wins and two seconds in four career starts. He is coming off a runner-up finish in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 9.

Goldberg believes that effort in the Blue Grass will set Smile Happy up perfectly for a big performance on Saturday. “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 wagers.

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.

2022 Kentucky Derby odds, horses, post draw


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