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Key Kentucky Derby Races Bettors Should Track in 2022

| February 27, 2022 7:52 am PDT
Kentucky Derby logo, Run for the Roses trophy, jockeys riding horses

The 37 races comprising the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby serve to winnow the wheat from the chaff, leaving us with 18-20 of the best three-year-old thoroughbreds the world has to offer. But are all the races equally important?

First of all, let’s have a look at the entire roster of races that comprise the Road to the Kentucky Derby. If you plan on placing bets at the top Kentucky Derby betting sites in 2022, it would make a lot of sense to keep tabs on what goes down at these events, whether you bet on the individual races or not.

Let’s get right into it, and I’ll wrap things up with a look at the latest 2022 Kentucky Derby odds.

Every Race Leading to the 2022 Kentucky Derby

Here ‘s the full schedule of races awarding points to horses trying to qualify for a post position in the 2022 Kentucky Derby. All of these races play a role in deciding how to bet on the Kentucky Derby in 2022, but some carry more weight than others.

Prep Season Races

This is the first 20 races on the road to the Kentucky Derby, and include stakes races in the Listed to Grade III and Grad II level. These races offer points to the top four finishers thusly: 10-4-2-1—except for the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, which doubles those points.

Race Track Date
Iroquois Churchhill Downs 9/18/21
American Pharoah Santa Anita Park 10/1/21
Champagne Belmont Park 10/2/21
Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Del Mar 11/5/21
Kentucky Jockey Club Churchhill Downs 11/27/21
Remsen Aqueduct 12/4/21
Los Alamitos Futurity Los Alamitos Race Course 12/11/21
Springboard Mile Remington Park 12/17/21
Gun Runner Fair Grounds 12/26/21
Smarty Jones Oakloawn Park 1/1/22
Jerome Aqueduct 1/1/22
Sham Santa Anita Park 1/1/22
Lecomte Fair Grounds 1/22/22
Southwest Oaklawn Park 1/29/22
Holy Bull Gulfstream Park 2/5/22
Withers Aqueduct 2/5/22
Robert B. Lewis Santa Anita Park 2/6/22
Sam F. Davis Tampa Bay Downs 2/12/22
El Camino Real Derby Golden Gate Fields 2/12/22
John Battaglia Memorial Turfway Park 3/5/22


Championship Series – First Leg

This is where the competition gets tougher, the purses bigger, and the points awarded get much more life-changing. These road to the Kentucky Derby races are all Grade III and above level stakes races, and award the top four finishers points as such: 50-20-10-5.

As the process gets rolling, be sure to keep tabs (and get betting advice) on some of these races by bookmarking our horse racing picks page.

Race Track Date
Risen Star Fair Grounds 2/19/22
Rebel Oaklawn Park 2/26/22
Fountain of Youth Gulfstream Park 3/5/22
Gotham Aquedect 3/5/22
San Felipe Santa Anita Park 3/5/22
Tampa Bay Derby Tampa Bay Downs 3/27/22
Sunland Derby Sunland Park 3/27/22

Championship Series – Second Leg

These eight races on the road to the 2022 Kentucky Derby are the best of the best—offering the stiffest of competition and the healthiest portions of R2TKD points to the top four finishers in each race: 100-40-20-10.

Race Track Date
UAE Derby Meydan Racecourse 3/26/22
Louisiana Derby Fair Grounds 3/26/22
Florida Derby Gulfstream Park 4/2/22
Arkansas Derby Oaklawn Park 4/2/22
Jeff Ruby Steaks Turfway park 4/2/22
Wood Memorial Aqueduct 4/9/22
Blue Grass Steaks Keeneland 4/9/22
Santa Anita Derby Santa Anita Park 4/9/22

Wildcard Race

In the past, there have been two wildcard races leading into the KD, but the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby features only one, with the distribution of points as such: 20-8-4-2.

Race Track Date
Lexington Stakes Keeneland 4/16/22

Key Races for Bettors to Monitor

Bear in mind that two-thirds of the total qualifying races remain, including the ones that will weigh most heavily on the final line-up behind the starting gate: The eight races considered the second leg of the Championship Series—those offering the most points to the top four finishers: 100-40-20-10.

As it turns out, three of those Championship series races—the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and the Santa Anita Derby—are the ones we should watch most carefully.

Seven of the winners of the Kentucky Derby since 2012 Road to the Kentucky Derby points system was first instituted) have won at least one of those three races.

Three of the other ten KD winners either placed or showed in those races. Looking at them from a different perspective, no horse that won the Kentucky Derby in the last ten years has not first moneyed in the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and/or the Santa Anita Derby.

Of course, there’s always a first time.

Florida Derby – April 2, 2022

The Grade I Florida Derby has been running annually at Gulfstream Park since 1952. Run on the dirt track for 1-1/8 miles, this year’s Florida Derby offers a purse of $750,000.

Interesting factoid: trainer Todd Pletcher holds the record for winning the Florida Derby with six wins, and John Velazquez is the leader for jockeys in that race, winning five (three of those for Pletcher).

Arkansas Derby — April 2, 2022

First run in 1936, the Arkansas Derby is a $1.25 million purse Grade I stakes race on the dirt track for nine furlongs (1-1/8 miles). Todd Pletcher again holds the record among trainers for most wins of the Arkansas Derby: Five.

Back in the ‘80s and ‘90s, jockey Pat Day set the record for three wins there, and no jockey has beaten that record since.

Santa Anita Derby — April 9, 2022

Santa Anita Park has hosted the Santa Anita Derby since 1935. A Grade I stakes race, the Santa Anita Derby is offering a $750,000 purse this year. Trainer Bob Baffert holds the record here with nine wins. Y

ou have to go back to the ‘50s and ‘60ss to find the winningest jockey at the Santa Anita Derby: Rex Ellsworth (three wins).

But Wait…

And of course, there’s another competition this year that will have a huge effect on the line-up at Churchill Downs on May 7th. It won’t be a stakes race, but rather, the final outcome of a vitriolic battle between Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert and Churchill Downs Inc.

The two sides have had a public fight over the track’s two-year ban of Baffert (and Baffert-trained horses) from competing on tracks Churchill Downs operates—a ban that could keep at least three of the current top contenders out of the Kentucky Derby starting gate.

For what it’s worth, the owners have stood by Baffert, so it remains to be seen if he’ll be cleared to compete this year.

Updated Odds for the 2022 Kentucky Derby

I’m including the Baffert-trained contenders here, just to show where they stand, but remember that it is likely some or all of them will be missing at Churchill Downs.

Kentucky Derby Horses Future Odds Trainer
Messier (+1200) Bob Baffert
Smile Happy (+1200) Ken McPeek
Epicenter (+1400) Ken McPeek
Jack Cristopher (+1800) Chad Brown
Charge It (+2000) Todd Pletcher
Classic Causeway (+2000) Brian Lynch
Corniche (+2000) Bob Baffert
Emmanuel (+2000) Todd Pletcher
Newgrange (+2000) Bob Baffert
Zandon (+2000) Chad Brown

This list of Kentucky Derby 2022 odds isn’t very extensive, simply because the road to this year’s first leg of the Triple Crown has yet to begin. Eventually, I’ll piece together a more detailed look at the pricing, along with an updated look at the top contenders and viable sleepers that could win this year.

For now, bettors at least have something to chew on. Predicting who will win the 2022 Kentucky Derby feels like a nightmare right now – and it’s probably a waste of time – but the top bet is coming in at +1200 at BetOnline at the moment.

Whether they’re legit contenders in the end or not, horses like Messier and Smile Happy offer insane betting value until we’re told otherwise. If you’re ready to dive in head first, visit BetOnline to bet on these (or other) horses now.

Betting on the Kentucky Derby in 2022

All the above notwithstanding, it’s never too early to pick your winner for the 2022 Kentucky Derby. It’s suggested that you allow plenty of room for changes depending on the vagaries of Churchill Downs, of course.

There’s the Bob Baffert situation, as well as the sheer unpredictability of several hundred horses currently working assiduously on filling one of those 20 slots at the Derby.

The road to the Kentucky Derby always feels straightforward, but it rarely is. The races listed here should slowly paint a clearer picture, but some of the Kentucky Derby odds seen above will never be better.

If you want to get your research (and betting) started early, you can stay in the loop at our Kentucky Derby betting blog.

J.W. Paine

J.W. Paine is one of the most experienced writers at GamblingSites.com. He's written for television and the printed media, and is a published novelist (as Tom Elliott).

Paine loves writing about Las Vegas nearly as much he loves living here. An experienced gambler, he's especially familiar with thoroughbred horseracing, poker, blackjack, and slots.

More Posts by J.W. Contact J.W.



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