Road To Kentucky Derby Standings: Confidence Game Worth Monitoring

Written By Dave Bontempo on February 27, 2023
road to kentucky derby

There’s a new breed of confidence surrounding the road to the Kentucky Derby. It’s three-year-old Confidence Game.

After lighting up the board at Oaklawn, the 18-1 winner of the $1 million Rebel Stakes punched his Derby ticket and sits atop the Road to the Kentucky Derby standings with 57 points.

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With his surging victory through the slop, Confidence Game vaulted Angel of Empire, winner of the Risen Star, who is now second with 54 points. Red Route One, a late-flying second in the Rebel, gained 20 points and may have also stamped his Derby passport. He has 33 points, good for No. 4 overall.

Kentucky Derby invitations go to connections of the top-20 point-getters from winter and spring qualifying races. The cutoff last year was 30 points. It was 10 points in 2021. Everything depends on how many owners decline Derby invitations. Derby contenders keep shaping up this week with three 50-point win-and-in qualifying events on Saturday.

They include the $300,000 Gotham at Aqueduct, the $400,000 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Fla. and the $400,000 San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

According to the latest information, it’s all systems go now at Santa Anita after 6.5 inches of rain cancelled last weekend’s races. The training track is now open and the track is expected to run all weekend.

Keith Desormeaux, the trainer of Confidence Game, was pleasantly surprised to earn a Derby invite. He was not optimistic after Confidence Game acted up in the paddock before the Rebel, but jockey James Graham settled him down. Graham continued his good work during the race. He piloted Confidence Game comfortably behind contentious opening fractions of 22.75 for the quarter-mile and 46.17 for the half-mile.

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Giant Mischief, priced at 2-1, had first crack at the leaders and briefly assumed command at the top of the stretch, but Confidence Game bolted right by and delivered a jackpot to his backers.

He paid $39.30 to win, $13.20 to place and $7.80 to show, combining with 5-1 second-choice Red Route One for a $268 exacta. Confidence Game also delivered a 94 Beyer speed figure, one of the best on the circuit in 2023.

Another story involves the aforementioned 9-1 longshot Red Route One, who customarily spotted the field nearly 20 lengths before making gigantic strides. He shot past the tiring speed and nearly won the race but ran out of real estate. Red Route One delivered two straight excellent efforts, both as a deep closer in the slop. Bettors will look to determine how he fares going longer and on a fast track.

Reincarnate, third on the odds board 9-2, completed a $1 trifecta of $1,419 and nabbed 15 points to be No. 6 overall with 25 points. The fourth-place nod, and 10 points in the process, went to Verifying, who rounded out a $2 superfecta — worth $8,395 or $419 for 10 cents.

Verifying, the 3-2 favorite, finished the weekend with 14 points, good for No. 16 overall. Any number of points in a later prep race will most likely qualify him for the Derby.

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Remainder of Road To The Kentucky Derby Schedule

The Road to the Kentucky Derby schedule began in September. However, the win-and-in races began February 18 with the Risen Star at Fair Grounds. That was the first race that awards 50 points to the winner. Below is the race schedule for the 50 and 100-point prep races, enough for the race winners to qualify for the Kentucky Derby, if entered.

RaceTrackDatePoints For Top Finishers
UAE DerbyMeydan RacecourseMar 25, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Louisiana DerbyFair GroundsMar 25, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Jeff Ruby SteaksTurfway ParkMar 25, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Sunland DerbySunland ParkMar 26, 202350-20-15-10-5
Florida DerbyGulfstream ParkApr 1, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Arkansas DerbyOaklawn ParkApr 1, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Wood MemorialAqueductApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Blue GrassKeenelandApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10
Santa Anita DerbySanta Anita ParkApr 8, 2023100-40-30-20-10

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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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