First Thoughts On 2023 Kentucky Derby Horses, Prep Race Standings

Written By Dave Bontempo on April 10, 2023
Kentucky Derby horses

Few April weekends thrilled horse racing fans more than Saturday’s series of prep races to help solidify this year’s field of Kentucky Derby horses. And exotics bettors may never be more confused, as Kentucky Derby odds start to come into focus. A series of at-the-wire finishes conveys parity for bettors to assess over the next several weeks.

Here are some takeaways from the last four major qualifying events before the Run for the Roses on May 6 at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky.

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Who Got In The Kentucky Derby?

Even-money chalk Practical Move, 8-5 favorite Tapit Trice and 58-1 bomb Lord Miles prevailed in the respective Santa Anita Derby, Blue Grass Stakes and Wood Memorial races this past weekend. They all reached the top-six spots in the point standings and stamped their passport to Churchill Downs.

Verifying and Hit Show, second in the Blue Grass and Wood, did enough to gain Derby invites.

Mandarin Hero, second in the Santa Anita, needs owners of several horses to decline Derby invitations to vault into the top 20, and some usually do, based on the perception their horse won’t hit the board. Skinner, third in the Santa Anita, is in a tie for 20th, the final spot in the standings that guarantees entry.

Forte holds the top spot and will be the morning line favorite in the 2023 Kentucky Derby. Here are the full Road to the Kentucky Derby standings, via Churchill Downs.

Here’s What Places These Horses Together

All were engaged in pulsating final preps. Forte opened the month of April by surging to nip Mage in the final strides of the Florida Derby at 1-5 odds.

And then came Super Saturday. Three prep races decided by an eyelash. Practical Move edged Mandarin Hero by a photo. Lord Miles got a nose down just before the wire to nip Hit Show, and Tapit Trice nudged Verifying.

Beyer Speed Figures Also Convey Parity

Nothing has ever happened quite like this in one set of races.

Practical Move and Mandarin Hero notched 100 Beyers at Santa Anita. Tapit Trice and Verifying delivered 99s in their breathtaking Blue Grass battle. Forte produced 98 in the Florida Derby. However, Lord Miles only received a 93 for his win in the Wood.

The logjam near 100 with the others creates multiple betting angles with the Derby. All eyes will be on the backside of Churchill Downs to see which horse may be taking a step forward in training, leading up to the first Saturday in May.

Recap from Super Saturday Prep Races

Santa Anita Derby

It became a match race between Practical Move, Mandarin Hero and Skinner around the final turn. The late scratch of front-running Geaux Rocket Ride due to a fever enabled the contenders to gain position and then run down pacesetting Onceinvermillion.

Ramon Vazquez got Practical Move to the rail just before Mandarin Hero, making jockey Kazushi Kimura work hard to find an opening between horses. That may have been the ultimate difference. Skinner was a fast-charging third.

Blue Grass Stakes Recap

Bettors nailed this one, sending frontrunning Verifying off at 2-1 and Tapit Trice as the 8-5 favorite. Tapit Trice, getting position earlier than in his late-running Tampa Bay Derby victory, hooked up with Verifying around the final turn. It was a match race for 1-8 of a mile with Tapit Trice prevailing with by far the largest margin of the weekend _ a neck.

Jockey Luis Saez guided Tapit Trice to the wire and then had to survive an objection waged by Tyler Gaffalione aboard Verifying for alleged interference. The objection was disallowed.

Wood Memorial Recap

Nothing reflected the weekend better than three horses across the track near the wire. Lord Miles, Hit Show and Dreamlike had the stretch to themselves to unveil their duel at Aqueduct. Lord Miles won the head bob for jockey Paco Lopez.

The 1:51.17 clocking was the slowest of the three prep races and that will be reflected in Kentucky Derby race-day odds. Practical Move ran 1:48.69 at speed-favoring Santa Anita and Tapit Trice was good for 1:50 at Keeneland.

2023 Kentucky Derby Odds

Odds for Kentucky Derby horses will come out at TVG and other horse racing apps the week of the race. Here is where odds closed at April 1 in the final Kentucky Derby futures pool at Churchill Downs for horses with odds shorter than 50-1.

Tapit Trice+695
Practical Move10-1
Geaux Rocket Ride17-1
Angel of Empire19-1
National Treasure25-1
Two Phil's25-1
Derma Sotogake (JPN)25-1
Hit Show35-1
Confidence Game 40-1
Cyclone Mischief45-1
Raise Cain50-1
Rocket Can55-1
Sun Thunder55-1
Red Route One70-1
Blazing Sevens75-1
Instant Coffee80-1
Jace's Road80-1
Slip Mahoney85-1
King Russell85-1

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Dave Bontempo

Dave Bontempo, who writes extensively on the emergence of legalized sports betting, is a recipient of the Sam Taub Award for Broadcast Excellence by the Boxing Writers Association of America. He has broadcast boxing for all the major networks over the last four decades and is a member of the New Jersey Boxing Hall of Fame as well as the Atlantic City Boxing Hall of Fame. His work also can be seen at the Press of Atlantic City and iGamingPlayer.

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