What to know about the 2022 Kentucky Derby

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The Kentucky Derby is one of the most iconic sporting events in the world. Every year, millions of fans tune in to NBC to watch top racehorses from around the globe compete in “The Most Exciting Two Minutes In Sports.”

The 2022 Kentucky Derby will air on Saturday, May 7 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Coverage is also available to stream live on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Related: How to watch the 2022 Kentucky Derby

NBC Sports will also air the Kentucky Oaks the day before on Friday, May 6th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

What is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby, historically on the first Saturday in May, is one of the most well-known Grade 1 Thoroughbred stakes races in the world. It is usually the first leg of the American Triple Crown and is only one of the Triple Crown races to have run uninterrupted since its inaugural race in 1875.

How long is the Kentucky Derby?

The Kentucky Derby is 1 1/4 mile or 10 furlongs. The race has also been dubbed as “The Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” due to its approximate duration. Secretariat owns the fastest Kentucky Derby time ever, running a blistering 1:59.40 in 1973.

When is the 2022 Kentucky Derby?

The 148th running of the Kentucky Derby is on Saturday, May 7, 2022. Watch NBC Sports’ coverage on NBC, Peacock, or on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app. Post time for the 148th Kentucky Derby is at approximately 6:57 p.m. ET.

Where is the 2022 Kentucky Derby?

The Derby is run on the dirt track at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky, where it has been held since its inaugural running in 1875.

How can I watch the 2022 Kentucky Derby?

NBC is home to the 148th Kentucky Derby, providing comprehensive race coverage and analysis live on TV, Peacock, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app before, during and after. The 2022 Kentucky Derby will air on May 7 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC.

NBC Sports will also air the Kentucky Oaks the day before on Friday, May 6th from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. ET on USA Network, NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.

NBC will also broadcast the 2022 Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes and Breeders’ Cup.

How are horses picked for the Derby?

Only 3-year-old Thoroughbreds can qualify for the Kentucky Derby. Eligible horses compete in the Road to the Kentucky Derby, a series of 35 races around the world. Horses win points for finishing in the top four spots, and the 20 horses with the most points at the end of the series gain entry into the Derby. However, sometimes horses will scratch, giving horses outside of the top-20 the opportunity to run in the Derby.

Read more: Kentucky Derby 2022 post positions, odds announced

Which horses should I watch for on Saturday at the Kentucky Derby?

  • Zandon enters the First Saturday in May as the early favorite with 3-1 odds and qualified for the Kentucky Derby by winning the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland. The speedy black colt breaks from the No. 10 spot out of the gate. He’s only run in three graded stakes, but never finished lower than third. Trainer Chad Brown looks is looking for his first Kentucky Derby win after being best known for his success with turf horses. Jockey Flavien Prat won the 2019 Kentucky Derby via disqualification riding Country House and will be looking for his first championship moment in 2022. Owner Jeff Drown is making his first entry into the Kentucky Derby.
  • Epicenter comes in behind Essential Quality at 7-2. Many consider him to be trainer Steve Asmussen’s best chance to finally win the Kentucky Derby after holding the record for most Derby starts without a win among trainers. Epicenter has four wins in his last five races, including a win at Churchill Downs. He enters the Kentucky Derby with Joel Rosario in the irons, who is hunting his second Derby win (Orb, 2013).
  • Former Bob Baffert trainee Messier, named after the New York Rangers legend, has 8-1 odds to win the Kentucky Derby. Messier’s current trainer Tim Yakteen, who is a former Baffert assistant, is making his first Kentuck Derby appearance. Riding Messier will be John Velazquez, who will be seeking to reclaim his fourth Kentucky Derby win after Medina Spirit finished first in last year’s Run for the Roses but was disqualified for a positive drug test.
  • There are two women who own horses that are in the Kentucky Derby field. Tami Bobo, who went from single mom to boutique Thoroughbred owner, has Simplification running out of the No. 13 spot with Jose Ortiz in the irons. Whisper Hill Farm owner Mandy Pope, who bought her first horse in high school, has Charge It coming out of the No. 8 stall. Luis Saez will be riding the colt and will look to get his first Kentucky Derby win after he finished first but was disqualified in 2019 for interference.
  • Crown Pride, running out of the No. 7 spot, is set to be the second Japan-bred horse to run in the Kentucky Derby. This will be trainer Koichi Shintani’s and jockey Christophe Lemaire’s first time competing at the Kentucky Derby.

Read more: Handicapping the 2022 Kentucky Derby | Behind the scenes of betting at the Derby

Who won the 2021 Kentucky Derby?

On February 21, the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission disqualified Bob Baffert’s Medina Spirit from the Kentucky Derby due to a failed post-race drug test.

Churchill Downs now recognizes 2nd-place finisher Mandaloun, trained by Brad Cox and ridden by Florent Geroux, as the winner. Cox, who is now the first Louisville-born trainer to win the Derby, said at the time: “To not really have that [thrill of victory], it’s a race that’ll have an asterisk by it.”

What are the biggest Kentucky Derby traditions?

Flashy and bold formal outfits for both men and women are synonymous with the Kentucky Derby. Celebrities and fans alike don creative and colorful hats, bright colors and wild patterns. In fact, hats and outfits are such a big part of the Kentucky Derby that the Derby Museum dedicates a whole exhibit for the most lavished fashions.

The Mint Julep, made with Kentucky bourbon, is the signature drink of the Derby. Kentucky’s state song “My Old Kentucky Home” is played during the pre-race post parade. After the race, the champion horse is given the iconic garland of roses in the winner’s circle, hence why the race is nicknamed “the Run for the Roses.”

Betting and horse racing go hand in hand. There will be a whole weekend of stacked racing cards at Churchill Downs, but the Derby is usually one of the most bet on sporting events of the entire year.

Watch the 148th running of the Kentucky Derby on Saturday, May 7 from 12 to 2:30 p.m. ET on USA Network and from 2:30 to 7:30 p.m. ET on NBC. Full coverage is also available on NBCSports.com, the NBC Sports app and Peacock.

Flightline, Pletcher, Godolphin lead way at Eclipse Awards

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Pat McDonogh/USA TODAY NETWORK
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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Flightline ran away in all six of his races, and ran away with top honors at the Eclipse Awards on Thursday night.

And trainer Todd Pletcher, for the first time in nearly a decade, received the sport’s top prize as well.

Flightline – the now-retired winner of last year’s Breeders’ Cup Classic to cap an unbeaten six-race career – won Horse of the Year as well as the Eclipse as top Older Dirt Male. It was no surprise that Flightline took home both awards, and he’s now standing stud.

“We’ll hope that his future is as bright as his past,” co-owner Kosta Hronis said.

Godolphin was also a double winner, sweeping the Eclipses as top owner and top breeder for the second consecutive year. It was also the third consecutive top-owner Eclipse for Godolphin.

“This is truly a golden era for Godolphin racing,” said Michael Banahan, the stable’s director of bloodstock. “And these awards and accolades recognize how special it is.”

It was Pletcher’s eighth Eclipse, extending his record for the most by any trainer, and his first since 2014. It was one of the few close races in the voting; Pletcher got 108 first-place votes, while four-time Eclipse winner Chad Brown got 95 and finished second.

“This really is not an individual award. This is a team award,” Pletcher said. “This is an award about the owners, and most importantly, the horses.”

Irad Ortiz Jr. won the Eclipse as top jockey for the fourth time in the last five years; he tied Pat Day and Javier Castellano for third-most in history, behind only seven-time winner Jerry Bailey and five-time winner Laffit Pincay Jr.

Ortiz led all jockeys with more than $37 million in purses in 2022.

“Wow,” Ortiz said. “It’s been an amazing year for me.”

Forte won the Eclipse as 2-year-old male, and will enter this year’s Triple Crown season as one of the early favorites.

“We’re all in this game for a horse like Forte,” said Mike Repole, the horse’s co-owner along with Florida Panthers owner Vincent Viola and Teresa Viola. “We’re all in this game to one day maybe own a 2-year-old that has a chance. It’s great to have the Kentucky Derby favorite. … Forte’s an incredible horse.”

Epicenter won the 3-year-old male Eclipse, after running second at both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, then winning the Jim Dandy and Travers at Saratoga over the summer.

Wonder Wheel was the winner as 2-year-old filly, while Nest won the Eclipse in the 3-year-old filly division. Malathaat was the Eclipse winner for older dirt female, Goodnight Olive for female sprinter and Regal Glory for female turf horse.

Elite Power was picked as the top male sprinter, Modern Games won the Eclipse for male turf horse, and Hewick was the Eclipse winner in the steeplechase division.

Jose Antonio Gomez won as top apprentice jockey.

The Eclipse Awards are voted on by members of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association, the Daily Racing Form and National Turf Writers And Broadcasters.

Trainer Bob Baffert’s ban from racing in New York is over

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Courier Journal/USA TODAY Sports
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Bob Baffert can once again enter horses at New York’s major tracks.

The Hall of Fame trainer’s one-year ban by the New York Racing Association ended Wednesday, allowing him to enter horses as soon as Thursday.

“I was disappointed they even did it, but it’s water under the bridge,” Baffert told The Associated Press by phone.

He was suspended last June for repeated medication violations, although none of them occurred in New York. He was barred from Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga. A panel credited Baffert for time served for an initial suspension, which allowed him to return this week.

Aqueduct is currently holding its 44-day winter meet that runs through March 26. Baffert doesn’t typically run horses this time of year in New York; he targets the biggest stakes races at Belmont in the spring and Saratoga in the summer.

Baffert remains under a two-year ban by Churchill Downs Inc., which sidelined him after Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for a substance that is not allowed on race day. The penalty expires shortly after the Kentucky Derby in May. However, Baffert is fighting the suspension in federal court.

The Southern California-based trainer has a big weekend coming up around the country, although not in New York.

He has horses running at three tracks on Saturday.

Defunded is entered in the $3 million Pegasus World Cup at Gulfstream in Florida, where Baffert assistant Jimmy Barnes will be on hand.

Arabian Knight goes into the $750,000 Southwest Stakes as the early favorite at Oaklawn in Arkansas. Baffert has won the Kentucky Derby prep race a record-tying five times and will travel to Hot Springs to watch the 3-year-old colt.

“It’s going to be a good test for him. The only way to find out is to run him long,” he said. “It’s going to take a superior horse to do that and I’m hoping that he is.”

The Southwest offers Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the top five finishers. Arabian Knight won’t receive any points regardless of his placing because of Baffert’s Derby ban.

Hopper will run in the $200,000 San Pasqual Stakes on Saturday at Santa Anita.

On Sunday at the same track, Baffert has entered four of the five horses set to run in the $200,000 San Vicente Stakes for 3-year-olds.