Latest odds show the 2022 favorites are pretty much settled.

What’s one clear sign that the Kentucky Derby is getting near? The Las Vegas odds sheet goes from fine print to large type.

That’s exactly what happened Monday, following the latest weekend of key Derby preps and with the big race now just a little more than four weeks away.

On last week’s updated odds sheet from Caesars sportsbook, there were 119 betting options for the Kentucky Derby on May 7, and that number had actually been larger by a few dozen names at various points earlier in the year. The sheet that Caesars sent out Monday morning included just 36 names for the Derby.

With only a handful of prep races left—and the last three big ones coming Saturday—the 2022 field is rounding into shape. The final Kentucky Derby Future Wager pool is set to open Thursday, and by the end of this weekend the top contenders will be pretty much set.

The latest Caesars odds show a bunched up group at the top, with no clear favorite at this late stage in the prep season. With the Blue Grass Stakes, Santa Anita Derby and Wood Memorial coming up Saturday, that’s three more chances for some separation at the top.

Here’s a look at the Kentucky Derby favorites going into this weekend.

Epicenter (6-1)

The clear star of the Fair Grounds prep circuit, Epicenter was impressive in defeat in the Lecomte Stakes before winning the Risen Star Stakes and Louisiana Derby, showing a change of style in the latter race — proving he doesn’t need to be on the lead — that might be more conducive to Kentucky Derby success. He’s trained by Steve Asmussen, who holds the dubious record of being 0-for-23 with Derby starters despite a Hall of Fame career that has featured such stars as Curlin, Rachel Alexandra and Gun Runner. Last week, Epicenter returned to Churchill Downs — where he earned his first victory in November — and he could end up as the favorite on Derby Day, depending on what happens this weekend. Speaking of …

Messier (6-1)

All eyes Saturday will be on Messier, who enters the Santa Anita Derby in a first chance/last chance scenario. Messier had been trained by Bob Baffert, who is banned from the Kentucky Derby due to Medina Spirit’s positive drug test last year, and that precluded him from earning Derby qualifying points. Messier was among four horses transferred out of Baffert’s barn last month, and Tim Yakteen — a former Baffert assistant with zero career Kentucky Derby starters — will be his trainer Saturday, when Messier battles Forbidden Kingdom in the Santa Anita Derby. Messier ran a 103 Beyer Speed ​​Figure — best among 3-year-olds this year — with a 15-length win in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes in February, and he could end up the clear Derby favorite with a similar showing at Santa Anita Ce week-end.

Forbidden Kingdom (7-1)

The son of Triple Crown winner American Pharoah is trained by Hall of Famer Richard Mandella, who had the Kentucky Derby favorite three years ago with Omaha Beach, a 3-year-old colt who ultimately didn’t have a chance to run the race due to a medical condition. Forbidden Kingdom could give Mandella another opportunity in a few weeks. He answered some distance questions with his impressive victory in the San Felipe Stakes last month, but he gets his biggest test Saturday with the battle against Messier.

Smile Happy (10-1)

A potential Kentucky Derby favorite heading into the year, Smile Happy finished second to Epicenter in his 2022 debut in the Risen Star Stakes, but that was still a solid effort coming off a nearly three-month layoff. The son of Runhappy broke his maiden at Keeneland and won the premier 2-year-old race at Churchill Downs last year, and he returns this weekend to Kentucky, where he’ll be the favorite in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on Saturday for Lexington native Kenny McPeek, who looks to have a great shot at his first Kentucky Derby win this year.

White Abarrio (10-1)

Trainer Saffie Joseph Jr. decided after White Abarrio won the Holy Bull Stakes in January to skip the next big Derby prep at Gulfstream Park — the Fountain of Youth Stakes — and point his gray colt straight to the Florida Derby. It was a bit of a gamble that paid off big time. White Abarrio won the Florida Derby rather convincingly Saturday, and now he’ll head to Churchill Downs a bit fresher for Derby Day. An interesting stat: White Abarrio has four wins in four starts at Gulfstream. The only other race in his young career came at Churchill, where he finished third behind Smile Happy and Classic Causeway last November.

Cyberknife (12-1)

A new shooter to the Kentucky Derby favorites list — but not the Derby trail — Cyberknife made a major statement with a victory in the Arkansas Derby over the weekend. His 2022 started with a head-scratching sixth-place finish in the Lecomte Stakes before rebounding with an freedom victory, setting the stage for Saturday’s big win. He’s trained by Louisville native Brad Cox, who is technically the reigning Kentucky Derby winner after Mandaloun was placed first following the disqualification of Medina Spirit. Perhaps Cyberknife will give Cox a chance to actually celebrate on Derby Day. The son of Gun Runner ran second in both of his starts as a 2-year-old at Churchill Downs.

Other notables

Charge It (14-1) finished second behind White Abarrio in the Florida Derby on Saturday, so he’s in the race for trainer Todd Pletcher. The son of Tapit was a bit all over the place in the stretch run of what was only his third career race. If he can straighten that out, he could be a threat May 7.

Mo Donegal (14-1) could be the favorite for the Wood Memorial on Saturday, following a late run to get third in the Holy Bull Stakes earlier this year. He still might be Pletcher’s best Derby bet, and a good showing this weekend would likely put him back among the favorites.

Morello (14-1) will be the main competition for Mo Donegal in the Wood, following his win over the same track in the Gotham Stakes last month. He has three victories in three career races (all at Aqueduct) and is another contender for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Zandon (15-1) finished third behind Epicenter and Smile Happy earlier this year and was second to Mo Donegal in his final 2-year-old start. Led by four-time trainer of the year Chad Brown, he gets another shot in the Blue Grass Stakes this weekend.

Zozos (15-1) shouldn’t be overlooked after his second-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, just his third career race and his first stakes appearance. He’s trained by Brad Cox and ran a 98 Beyer in his last start. Among Derby contenders, only Messier and Epicenter have achieved a higher number this year.

Simplification (16-1) saw his future odds double from 8-1 a week ago following a third-place finish in the Florida Derby, but it was still a game effort after battling out front through the opening stages of that race. The Fountain of Youth winner might be even longer than that 16-1 line on Derby Day, and he’s certainly one to keep an eye on there.

Tiz the Bomb (26-1) was a dud in his 2022 debut, a sixth-place finish in the Holy Bull Stakes, his first dirt start in seven months. Trainer Kenny McPeek then steered the rising turf star to the synthetic surface at Turfway Park, where he has now won two straight Derby preps, including the Jeff Ruby Steaks on Saturday. The plan after the Holy Bull was to send Tiz the Bomb to Turfway and then Europe for some premier turf races. Now? Don’t be surprised if Derby fever takes over and he stays home for the big race May 7.

Classic Causeway (40-1) was 12-1 on the Caesars list going into the Florida Derby, where he bowed out of the pace battle relatively early and was ultimately eased to the finish. Trainer Brian Lynch said the Tampa Bay Derby winner checked out fine after the disappointing showing. He has the points to make the Kentucky Derby field, so he could still be an interesting rebound candidate at a long price.

Secret Oath (no odds) is off the Derby board after a third-place finish as the 7-5 favorite in the Arkansas Derby. D. Wayne Lukas has said he will point his star filly to the Kentucky Oaks, where she will be among the favorites May 6.

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