Last updated October 13, 2021
2022 Kentucky Derby Contenders
As horses enter the Derby trail, they get one shot to run in the Kentucky Derby in their lifetime.
Discover how horses earn the chance to run in the Kentucky Derby with information below; Information such as contender lists, race entries and point accumulation.
- 2021-22 U.S. Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- 2021-22 Europe Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- 2021-22 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard
- Quick runner facts and answers
- Full explanation on how horses earn points
- 2022 Kentucky Derby contender pedigree profiles
- 2021 Kentucky Derby contenders
2021-2022 Kentucky Derby Contender Point Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders who are hopeful to start the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
|Points||Horse||Non-Restricted Stakes Earnings||RTKD Races Won|
|10||Rattle N Roll||$300,000||Breeders' Futurity|
|10||Jack Christopher||$275,000||Champagne Stakes|
|10||Major General||$177,525||Iroqouis Stakes|
|4||Tough to Tame||$57,750||n/a|
2021-2022 European Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Euro series who are hopeful to start the 2021 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the European Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
|Points||Horse||RTKD Races Won|
|10||Angel Bleu (FR)||Qatar Prix Jean-Luc Lagardère|
|10||Royal Patronage (FR)||Juddmonte Royal Lodge|
|10||Luxembourg (IRE)||Alan Smurfit Memorial Beresford|
|4||Noble Truth (FR)||n/a|
|4||Manu Et Corde (IRE)||n/a|
|1||Swan Bay (IRE)||n/a|
2021-2022 Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby Point Leaders
Check out the latest standings of contenders from the Japan series who are hopeful to start the 2022 Kentucky Derby. Positions based on points earned along the Japanese Road to the Kentucky Derby trail and non-restricted stakes earnings.
(Results will be added following the Cattleya Sho on November 27th)
Quick Kentucky Derby Contender Answers
- Q: How many total horses can run in the Kentucky Derby?
- A: 20 horses can be placed inside the Churchill Downs starting gate, which means 20 horses can run in the Kentucky Derby. There are typically two Also Elligable ‘AE’ horses who can find a chance to compete, if one of the original 20 horses scratches and cannot run in the race.
- Q: How do horses get to run in the Kentucky Derby?
- A: 18 entries are initially reserved for the top Road to the Kentucky Derby prep race point earners. These prep races are per-determined and if a horse is tied in points, then a specific type of purse earnings are used to assist.
- A: 2 entries in the Kentucky Derby are ‘reserved’ for runners from the European Road to the Kentucky Derby and the Japan Road to the Kentucky Derby.
The Kentucky Derby Hopeful Point Accumulation Process
One of the fascinating things about the build-up to the Kentucky Derby is watching the development of young Thoroughbreds. Still babyish as two-year-olds, the Derby hopefuls begin to grow up as three-year-olds — a process often compared to junior high kids morphing into high school athletes.
Fans can track the horses’ progress during the “Road to the Kentucky Derby,” traditionally a series of 35 races that take place from the fall of their two-year-old campaign through the spring of their three-year-old year, culminating in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May. Horses earn their way into the Derby by scoring points in these 35 races (the full schedule, along with the sliding scale of points available for a top-four finish in each race, is available at kentuckyderby.com). 2020 did see a unique change to this process, which resulted in the Kentucky Derby running in September and a few uniquely sanctioned Derby prep-races. The Road to the 2021 Kentucky Derby returned to a more normal season and schedule.
Just as major sports teams advance through playoffs, meeting stiffer competition as they get closer to the championship event, so do Derby aspirants aim to climb through each successive prep race. They might not have to win, but they do have to perform well enough — and stay healthy — to remain on the trail.
Because the competition gets tougher as the trail unfolds, the Derby points system awards the most points for the marquee preps in late March or April. The winners of the Florida Derby, Louisiana Derby, UAE Derby (in Dubai), Wood Memorial, Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes, and Arkansas Derby each bank 100 points toward the Kentucky Derby, clinching a spot in the field.
So hop onto the Derby trail — you might find a hot prospect!
2022 Kentucky Derby Pedigree Profiles
Prevailing in the Run for the Roses requires a perfect blend of both stamina and speed, plus an early-maturing profile sufficient to deliver a winning effort on the first Saturday in May. Learn more about the pedigree profiles of the leading contenders for the 2022 Kentucky Derby below. Use the quicklinks to jump to a specific horse:
“The first horse to strike on the 2021-22 Road to the Kentucky Derby was Major General, who displayed an affinity for Churchill Downs and battled to a tenacious victory in the Iroquois S. It’s easy to understand the source of Major General’s speed and talent. The dark bay colt boasts an elite pedigree, geared top and bottom toward success in the spring classics, which stamps the Todd Pletcher trainee as a key player for the 2022 Triple Crown.”
“With a 2 & ¾-length victory in the Champagne S. (G1) at Belmont Park, Jack Christopher was one of the first horses to strike on the 2021-2022 Road to the Kentucky Derby. But whether his success on the prep trail can translate to victory in the 1 & ¼-mile Kentucky Derby (G1) is a key question handicappers must consider. Speed is Jack Christopher’s greatest weapon, which isn’t surprising, since his pedigree contains abundant speed.”
Rattle n Roll
“When Rattle N Roll joined the Road to the Kentucky Derby with a powerful 4 1/4-length romp in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1), racing fans were left with an interesting question to ponder—does he have the pedigree to handle the Kentucky Derby’s testing 1 1/4-mile distance? At first glance, one might conclude Rattle N Roll is bred more like a miler than a classic type.”