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#1: Mo DonegalOne of the better late-season juveniles in the Northeast, Mo Donegal showed great acceleration and fighting spirit when holding out Zandon to win the Remsen S. (G2) in December. He could give owners Donegal Racing a chance for their first Derby winner after third-place finishes with Paddy O’Prado (2010) and Dullahan (2012). Has a classic pedigree – his sire Uncle Mo fathered 2016 Derby winner Nyquist, and his dam is a daughter of Island Sand, runner-up in the 2004 Kentucky Oaks.Photo by: Coglianese Photos/Janet Garaguso
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#2: Happy JackPhoto by: Benoit Photography
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#3: EpicenterSteve Asmussen is the leading all-time trainer of winners in North America, but so far the Kentucky Derby has eluded him. One of his best chances of ending that streak in 2022 looks to be Epicenter, winner of the Gun Runner S. A $260,000 purchase for Winchell Thoroughbreds, Epicenter is by Iroquois S. (G3) winner Not This Time (a son of Giant’s Causeway). His dam Silent Candy (by Candy Ride) is from a family that has produced stakes performers at a mile and beyond, so he has potential Derby stamina.By Alastair BullPhoto by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#4: Summer Is TomorrowPhoto by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#5: Smile HappyTwo wins from his first two starts marked Smile Happy as a leading Kentucky Derby contender.A dazzling winner on debut at Keeneland, the son of Runhappy sprinted hard from off the speed to take the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) Nov. 27. One of several good two-year-olds in the Ken McPeek barn, Smile Happy is from the Pleasant Tap mare Pleasant Smile, who hails from the same female family as 2003 Kentucky Derby winner Funny Cide.Photo by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#6: MessierPhoto by: Benoit Photography
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#7: Crown Pride (JPN)Crown Pride became the second Japanese-trained horse, and the first Japanese-bred, to win the 1 3/16-mile UAE Derby. Bred by Shadai Farm and owned by Shadai’s Teruya Yoshida, Crown Pride is the best horse to date by Reach the Crown, a grandson of Kentucky Derby winner and Japanese breed-shaping sire Sunday Silence. His dam Emmy’s Pride is by another outstanding Japanese stallion in King Kamehameha and is a daughter of the stakes winner Emmy’s Smile. He appears certain to stay 1 1/4 miles; class is the big unknown if he makes it to the First Saturday in May.Photo by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#8: Charge ItPhoto by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#9: Tiz the BombTiz the Bomb earned his place near the top of the Road to the Kentucky Derby table with two stellar performances on the Turfway Park Tapeta. He is from the second crop of 2016 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf (G1) winner Hit it a Bomb, whose progeny to date have stayed 1 1/4 miles. His dam Tiz the Key is by Tiznow out of an A.P. Indy mare, thus including two top recent sources of dirt stamina. Tiz the Bomb should stay 1 1/4 miles but the leading U.S.-trained turf juvenile of 2021 disappointed in his only three-year-old run on dirt so is a doubt on that surface. Connections had considered the 2,000 Guineas (G1) in England but have decided to proceed to the Kentucky Derby.Photo by: Coady Photography/Turfway Park
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#10: ZandonCreated a great impression when winning debut despite traffic problems. The Chad Brown trainee then showed terrific heart to come back at Mo Donegal in the Remsen S. (G2), and only narrowly failed to take the honors. The $170,000 Keeneland September Yearling Sale purchase is by graded stakes winner Upstart out of the Creative Cause mare Memories Prevail and comes from the family of graded stakes winners Hello Liberty, Significant Form, and Hay Dakota. Could be tested by 1 1/4 miles but looks a good prospect.Photo by: Coady Photography/Keeneland
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#11: Pioneer of MedinaSumaya U.S. Stable, who were on the Road to the Kentucky Derby in 2017 with Rebel Stakes (G2) winner Malagacy, are back five years later with Risen Star S. (G2) fourth-place finisher Pioneer of Medina. A $485,000 RNA at the Keeneland September sale, Pioneer of Medina is by American Pharoah’s sire Pioneerof the Nile out of Lights of Medina, a stakes-winning Eskendereya mare. The family is Chilean; his third dam is Medina Sidonia (by Winning, a son of Nijinsky), a dual Grade 1 winner in Chile up to a mile. If he makes it to Churchill Downs for the Derby, he has prospects of staying 1 1/4 miles.By Alastair BullPhoto by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs
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#12: TaibaSanta Anita Derby (G1) winner Taiba will be one of the least experienced horses to run in a Kentucky Derby, at what will be just his third start. But he created a stir before he raced: after an initial $140,000 sale as a yearling, he was later sold at the Fasig-Tipton Florida March sale of two-year-olds for $1.7 million. He won his debut over six furlongs March 5 before being switched to Tim Yakteen and winning the Santa Anita Derby. Another from the stellar first crop of 2016 Kentucky Derby third place-getter Gun Runner, Taiba is out of the Ohio-bred Flatter mare Needmore Flattery, a winner of 17 races, all in Ohio, who stayed at least 1 1/8 miles. Taiba should be capable of staying 1 1/4 miles, both on pedigree and from the manner of his Santa Anita Derby win.Photo by: Benoit Photography
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#13: SimplificationAntonio Sano may get a chance to improve on Gunnevera’s 2017 Kentucky Derby fifth-place finish with the Florida-bred Simplification. A $50,000 RNA as a weanling at the Keeneland November sale, Simplification is by the exciting young sire Not This Time, a son of Giant’s Causeway. His stakes-placed dam Simply Confection, by Candy Ride, is out of the stakes-placed Ballado’s Halo. A half-sister to champion mare Ashado and Grade 1 winner Sunriver, Ballado’s Halo is also the second dam of Canadian stakes winner Inflexibility. There’s a reasonable chance Simplification will stay 1 1/4 miles.By Alastair BullPhoto by: Coglianese Photos/Ryan Thompson
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#14: Barber RoadJohn Ortiz has only trained on his own since 2016, but he has a chance of getting to the Kentucky Derby for the first time with Barber Road. Bred by Susan Forrester and Judy Curry, Barber Road was a $15,000 Keeneland November weanling purchase in 2019 and is now raced by WSS Racing. He is from the third crop of Race Day, a multiple Grade 2-winning son of Tapit who now stands in South Korea, from the Southern Image mare Encounter. The family has produced stakes winners such as Susan’s Angel, Copingaway, Eloquack, and Seacliff. Stamina may be a query.By Alastair BullPhoto by: Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
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#15: White AbarrioAlong with Make It Big, White Abarrio gives trainer Saffie Joseph the chance to improve on his sole Kentucky Derby runner to date, eighth-placed 2020 runner Ny Traffic. Bred in Florida by Spendthrift Farm, White Abarrio was a $7,500 purchase at the OBS Winter sale in 2020 prior to being re-sold for $40,000 at the OBS March sale of two-year-olds. Like fellow Derby contender Barber Road he is a son of Race Day, the Grade 2-winning son of Tapit who now stands in Korea. His dam Catching Diamonds, a daughter of Into Mischief, is from a family that has produced numerous sprinter-milers, so Derby stamina must be a question mark.By Alastair BullPhoto by: Coglianese Photos
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#16: CyberknifeVictory in the Arkansas Derby was enough to earn Cyberknife a spot in the gates for the Kentucky Derby. From the strong stable of Brad Cox, Cyberknife was a $400,000 yearling purchase at the Fasig-Tipton Select Kentucky Sale and is the best horse to date owned by Gold Square. He is another from the outstanding first crop of 2016 Kentucky Derby third placegetter Gun Runner and is out of the multiple stakes winner Awesome Flower, a daughter of Travers S. (G1) winner Flower Alley. It is the family of Dubai World Cup (G1) winner Well Armed and of Makers 46 Mile (G1) winner American Patriot. There is enough stamina in the pedigree to suggest he will stay 1 1/4 miles.Photo by: Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
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#17: Classic CausewayClassic Causeway didn’t win any major two-year-old races, but did enough to put himself on the Kentucky Derby radar. After winning his debut, he finished third in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1) to Rattle N Roll and Double Thunder, and the next month he was second to Smile Happy in the Kentucky Jockey Club S. (G2). By Giant’s Causeway, his stakes-winning dam Private World is a daughter of 1995 Derby and Belmont S. winner Thunder Gulch.Photo by: Horsephotos.com
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#18: Tawny PortPhoto by: Coady Photography/Turfway Park
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#19: ZozosPhoto by: Coady Photography/Oaklawn Park
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#21: Rich StrikePhoto by: Coady Photography/Churchill Downs