2022 Kentucky Derby

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148th Kentucky Derby
Kentucky Derby
Grade I stakes race
2022 Kentucky Derby logo.jpg
"The Run for the Roses"
LocationChurchill Downs
Louisville, Kentucky, United States
DateMay 7, 2022 (2022-05-07)
Distance1+14 mi (10 furlongs; 2,012 m)
Winning horseRich Strike
Winning time2:02.61
Final odds80–1
JockeySonny Leon
TrainerEric Reed
OwnerRED TR-Racing
← 2021
2023 →

The 2022 Kentucky Derby (officially, the 2022 Kentucky Derby presented by Woodford Reserve)[3] was the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby. It took place on May 7, 2022, the first Saturday in May, in Louisville, Kentucky. The race was open to 20 horses, who qualified for the race by earning points on the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby. The Kentucky Derby is a Grade I stakes race for three-year-old Thoroughbreds at a distance of 1+14 miles (2.0 km) and has been run at Churchill Downs racetrack since its inception in 1875. The purse for 2022 was US$3 million. The race was won by Rich Strike, a longshot at odds of 80-1.

The race was broadcast by NBC, with coverage of undercard races beginning at 12:30 pm EDT on USA Network and main network coverage of pre-race activities starting at 2:30 pm EDT. It was also livestreamed on NBCSports.com.[4] The post time was 6:57 pm.


The Kentucky Derby is only open to three-year-old Thoroughbreds,[5] thus entrants in the 2022 race were foaled in 2019, mostly as part of the North American foal crop of 19,037.[6][a] The field is limited to twenty horses who qualified based on points earned in the 2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of designated races that was first introduced in 2013. This point system replaced the previous graded stakes race earnings system.[7]

Most positions in the Derby starting gate are earned on the main Road, consisting of 36 races in North America plus one in Dubai. The major preps for the Kentucky Derby are the UAE Derby, Louisiana Derby, Jeff Ruby Steaks, Florida Derby, Arkansas Derby, Wood Memorial, Blue Grass Stakes, and Santa Anita Derby. Each of these races provided the winner with 100 qualifying points, essentially guaranteeing that horse a berth in the Derby provided the owner paid the required nomination and entry fees. The first two of these major preps were run on March 26 and were won by Crown Pride and Epicenter. The next three major preps were run on April 2 and were won by Tiz the Bomb, White Albarrio and Cyberknife. The last three major preps were run on April 9 and were won by Mo Donegal, Zandon and Taiba.[8]

One qualification position was also available via the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and another via the Japan Road. Due in part to ongoing restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, none of these offers were accepted in 2022; these two positions reverted to qualifiers on the main Road.[9] Note that Crown Pride, bred and trained in Japan, qualified via the main Road after winning the UAE Derby.


Entries were taken on May 2 followed by the post position draw. The field was considered one of the deepest in recent history, with leading contenders coming from several different racing circuits across the country:[10][11][12][13]

  • Epicenter – Winner of the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby. Top point earner on the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Drew an inside post position, potentially a tactical disadvantage in the large field of the Derby.
  • Zandon – Winner of the Blue Grass Stakes, second in the Risen Star and Remsen Stakes
  • Taiba – Winner of the Santa Anita Derby; the Kentucky Derby became his third lifetime start
  • Smile Happy – Second in the Blue Grass Stakes; won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes at age two
  • White Abarrio – Winner of the Holy Bull Stakes and Florida Derby
  • Mo Donegal – Winner of the Wood Memorial and Remsen Stakes
  • Messier – Second in the Santa Anita Derby
  • Cyberknife – Winner of the Arkansas Derby

The eventual winner, Rich Strike, only drew into the field when another horse, Ethereal Road, was scratched the day before the race.[14] Rich Strike's only previous win came in a maiden race, and he had been claimed for $30,000 in September 2021. He earned his qualifying points by finishing third in the Jeff Ruby Steaks.[15]

Race description[edit]

Summer is Tomorrow went to the early lead, closely pressed by Crown Pride. The opening quarter mile split of 21.78 seconds was the fastest ever recorded for a Kentucky Derby,[16] and the half mile at 45.36 would still log in the top ten fastest.[16] As the race passed the three-quarter mile mark, Summer is Tomorrow faded and eventually finished last. Messier took the lead at this point, with Crown Pride still in second. Messier maintained the lead going into the final turn, but was passed near the head of the stretch by Epicenter.[1]

Meanwhile, Rich Strike broke poorly from the outside post position and raced well back; he was in eighteenth place after the first half mile, seventeen lengths behind the leaders. He began to make up ground on the final turn, while shifting out four wide; Rich Strike was only 4+34 lengths behind leader Epicenter at the one mile mark but was in heavy traffic. In the stretch, he found racing room near the rail, weaved around a tiring Messier and then launched a sustained drive to the inside of Epicenter, drawing clear in the final strides to win by three-quarters of a length.[1]

It was the first Kentucky Derby win for trainer Eric Reed. Running a small stable, Reed said, "I never dreamed I would be here. I never thought I'd have a Derby horse. I never tried to go to the yearling sale and buy a Derby horse. So this was never in my plans. Everybody would love to win the Derby. I always would, but I never thought I would be here, ever. It's a horse race, and anybody can win. And the tote board doesn't mean a thing."[17]

It was also jockey Sonny Leon's first Derby win, who was widely praised for an excellent ride. "You know we had a difficult post but I know the horse", said Leon. "I didn't know if he could win but I had a good feeling with him. I had to wait until the stretch and that's what I did. I waited and then the rail opened up. I wasn't nervous, I was excited. Nobody knows my horse like I know my horse."[17]

Rich Strike became the first horse to ever win the Kentucky Derby after having been claimed. "We’re always looking for horses that we feel could get better," said owner Rick Dawson. "Rich Strike had the pedigree and as Eric said his workouts had been very impressive. I'm a Keen Ice fan [Rich Strike's sire] so that's how we really got there."[18]


Finish Program
Horse Qualifying
Trainer Jockey Morning
Line Odds[12]
1 21[b] Rich Strike 21 Eric Reed Sonny Leon 30-1 80.80 $1,860,000
2 3 Epicenter 164 Steve Asmussen Joel Rosario 7-2 4.10 34 $600,000
3 10 Zandon 114 Chad C. Brown Flavien Prat 3-1 6.10 1+12 $300,000
4 13 Simplification 74 Antonio Sano José Ortiz 20-1 35.30 3+12 $150,000
5 1 Mo Donegal 112 Todd A. Pletcher Irad Ortiz Jr. 10-1 10.10 5+34 $90,000
6 14 Barber Road 58 John Ortiz Reylu Gutierrez 30-1 60.40 4+34
7 18 Tawny Port 60 Brad H. Cox Ricardo Santana Jr. 30-1 80.50 4+34
8 5 Smile Happy 70 Kenneth G. McPeek Corey Lanerie 20-1 14.10 10
9 9 Tiz the Bomb 110 Kenneth G. McPeek Brian Hernandez Jr. 30-1 31.00 12+12
10 19 Zozos 40 Brad H. Cox Manuel Franco 20-1 48.70 15+34
11 17 Classic Causeway 66 Brian A. Lynch Julien Leparoux 30-1 78.90 17
12 12 Taiba 100 Tim Yakteen Mike E. Smith 12-1 5.80 17+34
13 7 Crown Pride 100 Koichi Shintani Christophe Lemaire 20-1 17.50 18+14
14 2 Happy Jack 30 Doug F. O'Neill Rafael Bejarano 30-1 23.20 19
15 6 Messier 40 Tim Yakteen John Velazquez 8-1 7.10 19
16 15 White Abarrio 112 Saffie Joseph Jr. Tyler Gaffalione 10-1 15.40 19+34
17 8 Charge It 40 Todd A. Pletcher Luis Saez 20-1 16.00 27+34
18 16 Cyberknife 100 Brad H. Cox Florent Geroux 20-1 14.90 42+12
19 11 Pioneer of Medina 25 Todd A. Pletcher Joe Bravo 30-1 55.90 56+34
20 4 Summer Is Tomorrow 40 Bhupat Seemar Mickael Barzalona 30-1 36.80 64+12
scratched[14] 20 Ethereal Road 22 D. Wayne Lukas Luis Contreras 30-1 n/a
AE[c] Rattle N Roll 20 Kenneth G. McPeek James Graham 30-1 n/a

Track condition: fast

Times: 14 mile – 21.78; 12 mile – 45.36; 34 mile – 1:10.34; mile – 1:36.96; final – 2:02.61.

Splits for each quarter-mile: (21.78) (23.58) (24.98) (26.62) (25.65)

Source: [1]


Horse name Win Place Show
21 Rich Strike $163.60 $74.20 $29.40
3 Epicenter $7.40 $5.20
10 Zandon $5.60

Source: [1]


  1. ^ Horses from Europe and Japan are also eligible for the race, but proportionally fewer of them are pointed towards the Kentucky Derby.
  2. ^ Rich Strike drew in from the also eligible list when Ethereal Road was scratched.[14]
  3. ^ Rattle N Roll was second on the also eligible list. He did not draw into the race as there was only one scratch.


  1. ^ a b c d e "Chart of the 2022 Kentucky Derby" (PDF). Equibase. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  2. ^ "Churchill reports record Kentucky Derby day wagering". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  3. ^ Frank Angst (October 25, 2017). "Woodford Reserve is New Kentucky Derby Sponsor". BloodHorse.com. Archived from the original on April 15, 2018. Retrieved April 15, 2018.
  4. ^ Zanzucchi, Mia (April 8, 2022). "When is the 2022 Kentucky Derby? Date, start time, distance, race info". NBC Sports. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  5. ^ "How old are the horses at the Kentucky Derby?". Sports Illustrated. Archived from the original on August 15, 2020. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  6. ^ "The Jockey Club Fact Book – Registered Foal Crop". www.jockeyclub.com. Archived from the original on April 8, 2018. Retrieved April 6, 2021.
  7. ^ "About the Road to the Kentucky Derby". Churchill Downs Incorporated. Archived from the original on April 11, 2016. Retrieved March 24, 2018.
  8. ^ a b "Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard" (PDF). kentuckyderby.com. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  9. ^ "Leaderboard – April 25 update" (PDF). kentuckyderby.com. Archived (PDF) from the original on April 25, 2021. Retrieved April 25, 2021.
  10. ^ Roberts, Ben. "Ranking the top 10 horses for the 2022 Kentucky Derby". Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  11. ^ King, Byron. "Derby Dozen". www.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved April 17, 2022.
  12. ^ a b Greenberg, Neil (May 2, 2022). "Analysis | Odds, analysis and post positions for the 2022 Kentucky Derby". Washington Post. Retrieved May 3, 2022.
  13. ^ "Keeler Johnson's Kentucky Derby 148 Selections". cs.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  14. ^ a b c "Reed savors experience as Rich Strike makes Derby field". www.bloodhorse.com. Retrieved May 6, 2022.
  15. ^ "Rich Strike pounds the Kentucky Derby at 80-1". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 7, 2022.
  16. ^ a b "STATUS OF KENTUCKY DERBY WINNERS" (PDF). kentuckyderby.com. May 7, 2022.
  17. ^ a b "80-1 Longshot Strikes It Rich in Derby". TDN | Thoroughbred Daily News. May 7, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2022.
  18. ^ "Rich Strike first claimed horse to win Kentucky Derby". BloodHorse.com. Retrieved May 8, 2022.