The Courier Journal’s sports staff makes their picks for the Kentucky Derby

We have made it to Kentucky Derby week, and as Louisville prepares for the most exciting two minutes in sports, The Courier Journal staff has been hard at work trying to provide all the news and information necessary to make sure everyone can make an informed pick on race day.

And now that we’ve seen the draw, here are the picks from The Courier Journal’s sports department for this year’s Run for the Roses.

Brooks Holton

Winner: Epicenter

On the board: Cyberknife, Taiba, Mo Donegal

Longshot: Charge It

Epicenter has the early speed needed to establish himself at the front of the pack out of the gate. He and jockey Joel Rosario also proved in the Louisiana Derby that they are fine letting another horse set the pace only to surge ahead and never look back en route to the winner’s circle. Both traits are crucial in a 20-horse field, and, if Rosario can orchestrate a balanced run, trainer Steve Asmussen will go home with his first Derby win.

Reina Kempt

Winner: Taiba

On the board: Cyberknife, Epicenter

Longshot: Tiz the Bomb

Steve Asmussen deserves his first Derby win with favorite Epicenter, but history shows that Bob Baffert-trained horses, even when the man himself is suspended, tend to find a way in the winner’s circle. With that, I’m going to go with Taiba.

Kentucky Derby 2022: What’s left for Hall of Fame jockey Mike Smith to accomplish? Plenty

J.L. Kirven

Winner: White Abarrio

On the board: Messier, Epicenter

Longshot: Cyberknife

To win the Kentucky Derby, you need a horse that has the speed to start fast and the skill to finish strong. White Abarrio won the Florida Derby despite being in fifth place at the half-mile mark. I should also mention that his gray coat makes him look like a blur.

Cameron Teague Robinson

Winner: Epicenter

On the board: Cyberknife

Longshot: Smile Happy

Brief explanation of pick: I’m not an expert whatsoever but love the story of Cyberknife and his owner, who named the horse after the treatment he had for prostate cancer. Also think I’ll stick with Epicenter, the pre-draw favorite, for the win, as well.

ICYMI: Kentucky Derby post position draw, lineup, odds, full field. Zandon, Epicenter lead way

Jacob Adams

Winner: Epicenter

On the board: Crown Pride, Taiba

Longshot: Zozos

Hopefully nobody listens to the advice of a first-time Derby better, but I’m going to take the safe route and go with the pre-draw favorite to win and some names I’ve heard our own Jason Frakes bring up more than once (didn’t say he thinks they’ll all do well, I’m just going on name recognition right now). I’m curious to see how the Japanese horse, Crown Pride, does in this environment.

Jonathan Saxon

Winner: Taiba

On the board: Messier, Cyberknife

Longshot: Zozos

I’m a sucker for anything to do with an attempt at something historic, and Taiba could become the first horse since 1883 to win the Derby with less than three races of experience. Mike Smith could also become the oldest jockey to win the Derby at 55. He already has two previous Derby wins, why not bring in the third one with some historic flair?

More: 2022 Kentucky Oaks post position draw, lineup, odds and entries for full field

John Hale

Winner: Taiba

On the board: Zandon, Messier

Longshot: Charge It

The only thing that could make the Bob Baffert saga more interesting is his former horse, which is now trained by Baffert’s former assistant and shares an owner with Medina Spirit, wins even without Baffert here.

Tim Sullivan

Winner: Taiba

On the board: Messier, Charge It

Longshot: Tiz The Bomb

When in doubt, bet on Bob Baffert. When Bob Baffert is not around, bet on the horses he was training before his suspension.

Brett Dawson

Winner: Epicenter

On the board: Messier, Zandon

Longshot: Charge It

Steve Asmussen has been here before, but this feels different. Epicenter and Echo Zulu, his horse in the Oaks, “train like horses that expect to win,” he said. And Epicenter looks like a horse good enough to do it. It seems wrong that Asmussen’s never won a Derby. Saturday is a great chance to make it all right.

Jason Frakes

Winner: Epicenter

On the board: Messier, Zandon, White Abarrio

Long shot: Zozos

It feels like the time is right for Steve Asmussen, and I can’t go against a horse bred in my hometown of Bowling Green.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: Derby picks 2022: The Courier Journal sports staff make their bets

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