UPDATE: It turned out that the only thing accurate about this reading was that Epicenter would make a strong showing. The problem was that I limited the population of likely winners to horses with short odds, and the actual winner, Rich Strike, was a long shot at 80-1 and one of the least likely contenders. I would have had to pull cards for all 20 horses to cover that situation. Next time I’ll do that.
Although I’ve done numerous baseball and football readings in the past, I’ve never tackled horse racing. I have the perfect spread for multiple contenders in the “Test of Truth” Winning Hand layout from my book of spreads, The Literal Tarot (shameless plug: it’s on Lulu). Since the 2022 Kentucky Derby is Saturday, I decided to take a stab at it. For the spread I picked the five horses that had the shortest odds since my understanding is that short odds means they are more likely to win but will pay out less to bettors. In the first column I placed Zandon at 3-1 (as of May 5th); in the second column, Epicenter at 7-2; in the third column, Messier at 8-1; in the fourth column, Mo Donegal at 10-1; and in the fifth column, White Abarrio, also at 10-1. I used the Rohrig Tarot for this reading since it is “glitzy” enough for such a glamorous, high-rolling event.
The first thing of note about this layout is the large number of reversed cards; it almost seems that the odds-makers are chary about publishing their picks. It could also mean that the lead will be “up for grabs” until near the finish.
The top row (“Enthusiasm”) indicates the extent to which the horses are “up” for the challenge. White Abarrio, with the Empress, seems to be “champing at the bit.” The rest of the horses all have reversed cards and, with the exception of Epicenter with the Queen of Wands, they are minor cards that suggest a lackluster showing. This implies that White Abarrio will be in the best state of mind, with Epicenter a middling runner-up.
The second row (“Readiness”) shows how well-prepared each contender is. Epicenter, with the 2 of Wands, has a slight edge on White Abarrio with the 4 of Wands since Two has an advantage over Four in energy level (although White Abarrio could be the stronger horse physically). The other horses have reversed cards, with Zandon showing promise (the Sun reversed) but not quite coming up with the stamina to pull it off.
The third row (“Level of Commitment”) can be read as describing how resolute each horse will be in “bearing down in the homestretch.” Although White Abarrio appeared to be the top pick up to this point, his trainer said he got “bottled up early” in the Kentucky Jockey Club run at Churchill Downs and couldn’t break out in time; the Prince of Disks reversed here could mean that the same thing can happen later in the Derby if the field hasn’t sorted itself out by then. Messier is one of only two horses in this row with an upright card and it is the fiery Ace of Wands, portending that he will “run hot” near the end of the race. Zandon also has an upright card but it is the tentative 8 of Swords, a rather aimless augury. My bet (even though I’m not a betting man) based on “grit” alone is that Messier could come on strong in the homestretch and take it away from White Abarrio. It looks like Zandon will fade in the backstretch and finish third.
The quintessence cards* (“Best Shot”) for this sequence were The Hierophant (Pope) for Zandon; Strength for Epicenter; The Moon for Messier; The Hermit for Mo Donegal; and The Emperor for White Abarrio. All but Strength and the Emperor are “passive and negative” Earth and Water cards, with the two “active and positive” Fire cards predicting that White Abarrio will dominate but would have to fight off Epicenter’s strong surge; there could be some “physicality” between the two if there is crowding near the finish line. The last word here has me thinking that White Abarrio may just be able to bring home the roses.
*I didn’t use my normal practice of subtracting reversed cards during the quintessence calculation because all of the horses (and their jockeys) would have had a reversed “quint” card, implying that none of them wants the crown (which is patently absurd).