Editor's note: Jay Lietzau is returning for his second season as the Star Tribune's handicapper. His selections will appear on race days when the Canterbury Park meet begins on May 18. Follow him on Twitter at @JaysPlaysStrib. Here's how Jay sees the Kentucky Derby:

On Saturday, for the 148th time, the top three-year-old equine athletes in the world will gather in Louisville to determine the fastest of their generation. Picking a winner out of this quagmire is no easy task.

Do you like the front-runners or the deep closers? Do you like the lightly raced potential or the veteran consistency? Do you like the big barns who have been there before or the newbies living out a dream? That's what makes this race so intriguing: the variables are infinite.

However, if you're lucky enough to focus on the right angles and solve this brain-teaser, the rewards can be bountiful. Below is my attempt to provide some clarity to the confusion — and cash some lucrative bets as well.

Most Likely Winner: Epicenter has done little wrong since he stepped on the Churchill Downs track last fall. He has steadily progressed from race-to-race for top connections (Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen/2021 Eclipse Award jockey Joel Rosario) while easily winning his last two prep races in New Orleans. His victory two starts ago in the Risen Star Stakes was a key race as three horses that were chasing him to the wire have come back to win the Blue Grass Stakes, the Lexington Stakes and Sunland Derby. His tactical speed allows him to get involved early and he's athletic enough to accelerate when needed, which is so important when navigating through a field of 20 horses. If he breaks alertly from an inner post, Epicenter could be there at the end to collect the roses.

Contenders: Simplification danced every dance at Gulfstream Park this spring, winning one prep race and hitting the board in all three. After closing nicely to win the Fountain of Youth Stakes, he uncharacteristically challenged for the lead in the Florida Derby before tiring late. He will need to take another step forward but if Jose Ortiz can find a nice stalking position and get him to relax, he should contend for a piece.

White Abarrio, like Simplification, prepped in southern Florida this spring, easily winning the two prep races that Simplification failed to capture. The only blemish on his resume was a third at Churchill as a two-year-old in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. You may question if he liked the surface at Churchill, although it can be argued that was his first time racing outside Florida and the only horses to finish in front of him that day also qualified for the Kentucky Derby.

Zozos, the horse owned by the Butzow family of Eden Prairie, went toe-to-toe with Epicenter in the Louisiana Derby last time out and didn't disappoint with a strong second. Has tremendous upside while only making his fourth career start, but needs to move forward off that encouraging performance. He must break cleanly from an outside post and establish good early position to have any chance.

Potential: Mo Donegal and Zandon are eerily similar. Both come from top barns (Todd Pletcher and Chad Brown). Both were visually impressive winning their prep races last time out. However, both are extremely pace dependent. Will the pace up front be hot enough to accentuate their closing kicks? Also, will luck be on their side as they potentially zigzag past tiring rivals? Both horses have tremendous ability but will need perfect trips.

Tiz the Bomb has five wins under his belt having won on dirt, turf and synthetic surfaces. This versatile colt has a big heart and always tries hard, but needs to improve again to make a serious impact.

Here's how I would wager $100 on the Derby:

$55 To Win: Epicenter ($55)

$10 Exactas: Epicenter to win; Simplification, White Abarrio or Zozos to finish second. ($30 total)

$1 Trifecta: 1st: Epicenter; 2nd: Simplification, White Abarrio, and Zozos; 3rd: Simplification, White Abarrio, Zozos, Mo Donegal, Zandon, and Tiz the Bomb ($15 total)