Florida Derby Winner White Abarrio Eyes Kentucky Derby Upset

Written By JR Duren on May 4, 2022
Kentucky Derby

The Kentucky Derby is Zandon‘s race to lose. Or Epicenter. Or Mo Donegal. It all depends on who you ask.

The post positions have officially been announced for Saturday’s 148th Kentucky Derby. The favorites are clear (at this point). The bettors are ready. And now, all that remains, barring any last-second news or steamers barreling up the oddsboard, is the 6:57 p.m. post time at Churchill Downs.

Florida horse bettors can wager on the race at tracks around the state, at off-track betting sites, as well as through the handful of mobile betting platforms available like TVG.

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While the odds may favor Zandon and Epicenter, and the experts are sweet on Mo Donegal, it’s the winner of two premier Florida stakes races, White Abarrio, that could provide a surprise win.

Zandon and Epicenter are Kentucky Derby favorites, Mo Donegal a threat

Zandon, the favorite, sits at 3-1 odds at the beginning of the week. Flavian Prat will ride the Chad Brown colt, whose resume includes a win in the Blue Grass Stakes and a gutsy second-place finish against Mo Donegal in the Remsen Stakes in December. Zandon will start in gate 10. The last horse to win from post 10? Giacomo in 2005.

Epicenter is a formidable opponent, winning nearly $1 million in stakes races and amassing the most qualifying points in the lead-up to the Kentucky Derby. Joel Rosario will ride the Steve Asmussen-trained colt from post 3 at Saturday’s race. Real Quiet (1998) was the last horse to win from post 3.

Mo Donegal heads into the Run for the Roses at 10-1 odds off of a win in the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct. Irad Ortiz, Jr. hopes to guide Mo Donegal to the jockey’s first Kentucky Derby win. The horse will start in Post 1. Perhaps the biggest thing working against Mo Donegal is the rail draw. There isn’t much room on the inside out of the gate, and no horse has won from post 1 since 1986 (Ferdinand).

Don’t sleep on Florida flamethrower White Abarrio

Florida horse racing fans know White Abarrio well. The gray colt trained by Saffie A. Joseph and ridden by Tyler Gaffalione isn’t the biggest horse, but it showed plenty of heart as it held off Charge It in the final furlong of the Florida Derby last month at Gulfstream Park. This came after a five-length win in February’s Holy Bull Stakes, also at Gulfstream.

If White Abarrio can be close to the lead coming around the final turn at Churchill Downs, look for him to surge ahead. What’s unknown is if the horse can hold his lead down the stretch, given the 1 1/4-mile distance. Will he start his surge later in the race? Or will he try to build a big enough lead out of the turn in the hopes he won’t be caught?

Florida Derby’s Charge It, Simplification facing long odds

Charge It and Simplification couldn’t chase down White Abarrio in the Florida Derby. However, they amassed enough points in Kentucky Derby prep races to earn a spot in the starting gate Saturday.

Of the two horses, Simplification may have the best chance to win. The Antonio Sano-trained colt notched a win against a relatively weak field in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes at Gulfstream in March, and finished second to White Abarrio (and ahead of third-place Mo Donegal) in the Holy Bull.

Both horses are staring down 20-1 odds heading into Saturday’s race.

Kentucky Derby experts split on who will win

The Kentucky Derby’s in-house panel of experts lacks continuity when it comes to picking the race’s top three finishers.

Of the five experts who offered their predictions, one has Mo Donegal winning the race, one has him finishing second, and one puts the horse in third. One of the five experts have Epicenter winning, and only two of them put Zandon in the winner’s circle. Here are each expert’s picks for win, place, and show:

  • Kellie Reilly: Zandon, Mo Donegal, Messier
  • Vance Hanson: Mo Donegal, Zandon, Epicenter
  • Joe Kristufek: Epicenter, Zandon, Mo Donegal
  • James Scully: Zozos, Zandon, Cyberknife
  • Scott Shapiro: Zandon, Epicenter, Messier

Odds for the field

Here are the odds for the rest of the field (odds subject to change):

  • Happy Jack: 30-1
  • Summer is Tomorrow: 30-1
  • Smile Happy: 20-1
  • Crown Pride: 20-1
  • Tiz the Bomb: 30-1
  • Pioneer of Medina: 30-1
  • Taiba: 12-1
  • Barber Road: 30-1
  • Cyberknife: 20-1
  • Tawny Port: 30-1
  • Zozos: 20-1
  • Ethereal Road: 30-1

 

Photo by AP Photo / Charlie Riedel
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JR Duren

J.R. Duren has covered the Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey gambling beats for Catena Media. His past reporting experience includes two years at the Villages Daily Sun. Duren is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists and a first-place winner at the Florida Press Club Excellence in Journalism Contest.

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