Who Are The Main Contenders For The Kentucky Derby 2022?

The competition is started to heat up as we are months away from the most popular race in the horse racing calendar – The Kentucky Derby.

If you are new to horse racing, you probably don’t know how the road to Kentucky Derby works and which of the participants will be chosen to run in the derby.

Who can Participate in the Kentucky Derby?

Only 3-year-old Thoroughbreds are able to run in this big event, which means that the competition is fierce. If you look at it this way, the Kentucky Derby contenders must be born in 2019, and there were close to 20,000 Thoroughbreds that year. 

The elite 20 of all thoroughbreds will be selected by a process of gathering points through races (prep races) that lead up to the Kentucky Derby.

The prep races are specifically designed by the Kentucky Derby to help make horses eligible to run for the roses. The prep races are organized from September to April and contenders from all around the world can participate in the races.

Most Kentucky Derby qualifying races also have substantial purse money, which means that horses are not racing only for the points. Each race has different points for the first, second, third, and fourth-place finishers.

The qualifying points are also indicating the outcome of the big event. Since the system began back in 2013, in most cases horses that qualified with more than 100 points usually won the Kentucky Derby. This was the case in all previous races except two (Orb 2013 and California Chrome 2014).

You can check a full list of contenders here: 

Kentucky Derby Point Leaders

Even though we are still months away from announcing the contenders, it is time to highlight which horses are on the right path.

Epicenter – 64 Points

This is a high-performing horse owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and trained by Steven M. Asmussen. If you are not familiar with horse racing, it is important to mention that Steve Asmussen is the leading all-time trainer of winners in North America.

This might be his chance to get his hands on the Kentucky Derby trophy.

Un Ojo – 54 Points

Owned by Cypress Creek Equine and trained by Anthony W. Dutrow, Un Ojo started to make headlines this year. After finishing 1st at Rebel Stakes and 2nd on Withers Stakes, it managed to climb points on the road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard.

Smile Happy – 30 Points

Smile Happy is owned by Lucky Seven Stable and trained by Kenneth G. McPeek. His cheerful name and impressive skills pushed through Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes finishing in 1st place. This is one of the most promising horses that we might see at the big event.

Ethereal Road – 20 points

Ethereal Road is owned by Aaron Sones and trained by D. Wayne Lukas. This year started bumpy by finishing 7th and 5th on Maiden Special Weight, but after that managed to reclaim its pride by finishing 2nd on the Rebel Stakes.

Luxembourg (IRE) – 20 Points

Luxembourg is an undefeated horse participating in the European road to the Kentucky Derby with wins in its last three races. Even though its last race was in October, it still holds a steady chance for participating in the Kentucky Derby.

Geraldo Barows (JPN) – 14 Points

Here we have a horse coming from Japan with a great history of races that makes Geraldo Barows a potential contender for the Kentucky Derby. In the past two races managed to finish in 2nd and 3rd place and it seems like it has a good pace.


The Kentucky Derby is scheduled for May 7th and we still got many prep races to go that can change the turn order. Prep races will give you enough information that can help you make a wiser betting decision on the race day. 

As we mentioned before, the horse with the most points is usually the favorite for the event, but sometimes the Kentucky Derby offers a different outcome.


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