Kentucky Derby picks from our experts

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Today’s Kentucky Derby day card features both the Derby itself and a bevy of other stakes, including several graded events.

With that kind of schedule on the docket, it’s sure to be a huge day of racing (and wagering), and we asked some of our experts to provide their selections for the Derby and five other races. Here’s what they came up with:


The erstwhile Derby Trial has been shifted to the Derby undercard and tends to attract a variety of horses, including several who are refugees from the road to the Kentucky Derby. The Chad Brown-trained Jack Christopher, winner of last fall’s Grade 1 Champagne, is the 2-1 favorite.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First6. Tejano Twist (KY)(J Rocco, Jr.)3. Pappacap (FL)(F Prat)11. My Prankster (KY)(L Saez)
Second11. My Prankster (KY)(L Saez)5. Jack Christopher (KY)(J L Ortiz)5. Jack Christopher (KY)(J L Ortiz)
Third1. Major General (KY)(I Ortiz, Jr.)8. Kavod (KY)(M Murrill)3. Pappacap (FL)(F Prat)


Midlantic-breds, unite! Pennsylvania-bred Just One Time — rated the Top Midlantic-bred among older horses in our first poll of 2022 — is the 3-1 morning line favorite. The Not This Time filly enters on a four-race heater, which includes wins in the Grade 2 Inside Information and, last out, the Grade 1 Madison.

In that most recent win, the two finishing directly behind her are both here in the form of Bell’s the One and Kimari.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First2. Just One Time (PA)(F Prat)2. Just One Time (PA)(F Prat)2. Just One Time (PA)(F Prat)
Second5. Obligatory (KY)(J L Ortiz)4. Kimari (KY)(J Rosario)4. Kimari (KY)(J Rosario)
Third7. Edgeway (KY)(J R Velazquez)3. Center Aisle (KY)(T Gaffalione)5. Obligatory (KY)(J L Ortiz)


Three-year-olds take to the green stuff in this Grade 2, 1 1/16-mile contest. Eleven runners are scheduled to face the starter here, with the Graham Motion-trained Sy Dog the 7-2 morning line choice. Sy Dog won the G3 Transylvania at Keeneland last out and is undefeated after three career starts. Irad Ortiz has the call.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First7. Sy Dog (KY)(I Ortiz, Jr.)8. Royal Spirit (KY)(T Gaffalione)5. Balnikhov (IRE)(M Franco)
Second10. Coinage (NY)(F Geroux)6. Portfolio Company (KY)(J Rosario)10. Coinage (NY)(F Geroux)
Third5. Balnikhov (IRE)(M Franco)7. Sy Dog (KY)(I Ortiz, Jr.)7. Sy Dog (KY)(I Ortiz, Jr.)


The day’s other Midlantic-bred is here in the form of Aloha West. The Maryland-bred Hard Spun horse enjoyed a banner 2021, beginning the year a maiden and ending it as the Breeders’ Cup Sprint champion after a torrid late rally got him into the top spot. The Wayne Catalano trainee will have Jose Ortiz up and is 7-2 on the morning line.

The morning line fave in this spot is the ultra-speedy Jackie’s Warrior (5-2). The Steve Asmussen trainee finished sixth in the Breeders’ Cup but made his first ’22 start a winning one in the G3 Count Fleet Sprint. Joel Rosario is up.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First7. Mind Control (KY)(J R Velazquez)6. Prevalence (KY)(T Gaffalione)8. Cezanne (KY)(F Prat)
Second8. Cezanne (KY)(F Prat)3. Jackie’s Warrior (KY)(J Rosario)3. Jackie’s Warrior (KY)(J Rosario)
Third2. Long Range Toddy (KY)(L Saez)8. Cezanne (KY)(F Prat)1. Aloha West (MD)(J L Ortiz)


A million bucks are on the line in this nine-furlong turf test for older runners, and Shirl’s Speight is the tepid 3-1 morning line choice. The Speightstown horse enters on a three-race win streak, including a late-running, 9-1 upset last out in the Grade 1 Maker’s Mark Mile at Keeneland. Luis Saez is named for trainer Roger Attfield and has to be flying high following his win in Friday’s Kentucky Oaks.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First6. Shirl’s Speight (KY)(L Saez)4. Tribhuvan (FR)(M Franco)8. Adhamo (IRE)(F Prat)
Second9. Kentucky Ghost (KY)(R Bejarano)8. Adhamo (IRE)(F Prat)6. Shirl’s Speight (KY)(L Saez)
Third5. Mira Mission (KY)(J R Leparoux)1. Ivar (BRZ)(J Talamo)4. Tribhuvan (FR)(M Franco)


The most exciting two minutes in sports has, as usual, drawn a full field of 20 set to travel 1 1/4 miles on the Churchill Downs main track. While a number of these horses seem not to belong, you can make a case for a bunch of ’em, too.

Blue Grass Stakes winner Zandon is the 3-1 morning line favorite, but in the early wagering, according to the Churchill Downs press office, it was Louisiana Derby winner Epicenter and Santa Anita Derby winner Taiba who were taking the most play; both were 5-1 in early betting. Those two were followed by Wood Memorial winner Mo Donegal (7-1) and Zandon (8-1). Other notables include Florida Derby winner White Abarrio (11-1) and Arkansas Derby champ Cyberknife (15-1), as well as buzz horse Crown Pride, who won the UAE Derby; the Japan-based runner was 17-1 in early betting.

William Derby BILL WatsonGary QuillTed Black
First1. Mo Donegal (KY)(I Ortiz, Jr.)6. Messier (ON)(J R Velazquez)3. Epicenter (KY)(J Rosario)
Second3. Epicenter (KY)(J Rosario)8. Charge It (KY)(L Saez)5. Smile Happy (KY)(C J Lanerie)
Third6. Messier (ON)(J R Velazquez)7. Crown Pride (JPN)(C Lemaire)10. Zandon (KY)(F Prat)