Cyberknife one of the top five bets

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On paper, the 2022 Kentucky Derby should be wide open, and that’s good news for players who prefer to throw some money at long shots.

Horse racing odds are fluid, so that will change, but after the draw there are only three single-digit-odd horses in the field of 20: No. 10 Zandon (3-1), No. 3 Epicenter (7-2 ) and No. 8 Messier (8-1). The other 17 contestants are all currently sitting between 10-1 and 30-1. This is truly anyone’s business and will only be harder to name when Mother Nature gets involved.

In fact, betting on Saturday’s Run for the Roses could be similar to 2019 when Country House emerged victorious at odds of 65-1 after disqualifying Maximum Security (10-1). That field was also considered wide open, especially after Omaha Beach, who was a 4-1 favorite on the morning line, was scratched.

With a 65-1 horse in the lead, the payouts for the 2019 Kentucky Derby were massive. A $2 exacta paid out over $3,000, and while we’re unlikely to see anything as robust this time around, with a similar open field, bettors should keep that in mind.

Oddly enough, horse players have to consider that Jim “Mattress Mack” McIngvale plans to invest $4 million for the Derby, and the horse he’s betting on will almost certainly end up a favorite when we hear, “And they’re gone!”

McIngvale, who is making the bet as part of a hedge against a Derby-related giveaway at his furniture stores, is likely to back morning favorites No. 10 Zandon (3-1) or second pick No. 3 Epicenter (7-2).

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“Mattress” Mack’s shenanigans aside, the best way for casual players to play the 2022 Kentucky Derby is to take a stand with a few long shots and factor them into your exotic bets, including exactas and trifectas. Sure, there’s a chance of Zandon and Epicenter crossing the finish line first and second to ruin your tickets, but just backing the two slim favorites in a wide-open field on a potentially sloppy track isn’t a strategy, which will pay off enough time to make it viable.

Instead, bettors should find the long shot they like best in order to hit the board and make a big payout. Here are some to consider:

Barber Street No. 14 (30-1): Barber Road, one of eight horses listed 30-1 after the draw, finished second in the Arkansas Stakes, third in the Rebel Stakes and second in the Southwest Stakes. He has a chance to be in the mix for a strong number.

#16 Cyberknife (20-1): After a slow start to his career, Brad Cox’s Cyberknife won the Arkansas Derby in April and seems to be peaking at just the right time.

Cyberknife Training.
Cyberknife runs during Kentucky Derby morning practice.
Getty Images

No. 1 Mo Donegal (10-1): Taking first place on a potentially sloppy course is not ideal but Uncle Mo’s son has the pedigree to compete at this distance. If it’s a quick way, Mo Donegal is live and one that can be used in Exotics with Zandon and Cyberknife.

#5 Happy Smile (20-1): After finishing second in consecutive races as a favourite, Smile Happy’s chances have drifted into good territory for a horse who finished second a game behind Zandon in the Blue Grass Stakes down the road at Keeneland.

#2 Happy Jack (30-1): If you’re really playing the “anything can happen in these types of races” approach, you could do worse than add Happy Jack to your exotics for added value. Boxing him with Zandon, Cyberknife, or Mo Donegal when we get a fast path could add some serious value to your card. Cyberknife one of the top five bets

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