The Kentucky Derby is set to run on May 7 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, and four horses have separated themselves in advanced wagering at sportsbooks including Circa Sports in Las Vegas.
Epicenter remains the betting favorite with shortened odds from +490 to +395 at Circa. Messier (+595), Taiba (+630), and Zandon (+635) were trailing close behind.
While the field won’t be official until the post position draw on May 2, here are Circa’s futures odds on horses that have qualified for the Kentucky Derby. They were current as of Wednesday afternoon.
2022 Kentucky Derby Futures Odds
|Horse||Circa Odds To Win 2022 Kentucky Derby|
|Tiz The Bomb||+2600|
|Pioneer of Medina||+6500|
|Summer Is Tomorrow||+10000|
|In Due Time||+10000|
Epicenter Has Shortest Price
Epicenter, winner of the Louisana Derby, produced these numbers in his workout at Churchill Downs on Easter Sunday.
— Kevin Kerstein (@HorseRacingKK) April 17, 2022
Owned by Steven Asmussen, Epicenter will have Joel Rosario aboard as jockey in the Kentucky Derby.
Circa’s Paul Zilm is a veteran oddsmaker in horse racing. He worked full-time as a risk supervisor and bookmaker at Circa until March 2021. Now, he handles horse racing odds for Circa as a consultant.
Zilm noted Epicenter was as high as +4000 (or 40-to-1 odds) in Circa’s Derby futures pool, but he’s been bet down to +395 as the current favorite.
“There’s a little bit of liability there but not huge,” he said. “We get pretty aggressive with our odds. I’ve always been of the belief that you let the market dictate where it goes. Don’t just low-ball numbers to protect yourself and give people a chance.”
Circa’s Kentucky Derby futures pool opened on December 1, 2021. It’s the third year Circa has offered the Derby pool to its customers. All bets become immediate action upon being placed at Circa.
“That allows us to offer (long) odds because you’re lucky to get your horse into the gate,” Zilm said. “It’s been steady since we opened it in December. The excitement’s there, and people know that we have it now. It probably took a Derby or two to realize that we were doing it.”
Zilm said that Zandon took some sharp action at Circa. He was offered at +2500 (or 25-1) before his win in the Bluegrass Stakes on April 9.
“(They) got down on good numbers with us right before his win in the Bluegrass in Lexington,” Zilm said. “A couple of sharp bettors that we respect took a good number, and now we’re not Zandon’s biggest fans. Although it’s not going to be a huge loss, it’s certainly a liability there.”
That liability will be minimized after Zilm said Circa took a lot of money on three horses that failed to qualify for the Kentucky Derby: Emmanuel, Doppelgänger, and Corniche.
Wither Bob Baffert?
Legendary trainer Bob Baffert, who is serving a 90-day suspension after the fallout from last year’s controversial Kentucky Derby win with Medina Spirit, transferred three of his horses to Tim Yakteen in March.
Messier, Doppelgänger, and McLaren Vale are now under the direction of Yakteen, who previously worked as an assistant under Baffert. Yakteen also has the Baffert horse Taiba in his barn after a previous transfer. Taiba, who won the Santa Anita Derby, is among the favorites to win the Kentucky Derby along with Messier.
“People can think how they want to if it’s still Baffert pulling the strings or not, but those two horses are under Yakteen’s name and will be for the Derby and any subsequent Triple Crown races,” Zilm said. “His 90-day suspension will cover that time period.”
Looking For A Longer Shot?
Like many bettors, Zilm prefers to place his own Derby bets on horses with mid-ranged odds between 20- and 30-1. He has his eye on Charge It, who finished second in his final prep race to qualify for the Derby. That second-place finish came in The Florida Derby on April 2 after a win and another runner-up finish previously. The lightly-raced horse is trained by Todd Pletcher. Charge It was bet down to +1500 odds as of Wednesday.
“I think at the end of the Triple Crown season, or certainly the summer, he may be the best of the bunch,” Zilm said. “He’s a horse that I might take a flyer on in the Derby. He might be a superstar or a freak.”