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2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 1/18/23: Verifying Surges To Strong Allowance Victory, Rises Up The List
Verifying (Coady Photography)

2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 1/18/23: Verifying Surges To Strong Allowance Victory, Rises Up The List

Welcome to the 2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings! Each week leading up to the race, we will provide our Top 20 Kentucky Derby Prospects, as well as updates with the latest news on each horse.

Visit our Kentucky Derby page for the latest news, rankings, prep race schedules, the Kentucky Derby point standings, and much more!

1. Forte

Pros: Three Grade 1 victories as a 3-year-old; clear Eclipse Award winner.

Cons: Did he peak too soon? It’s hard to hold your form for as long as he will be asked to do.

Outlook: He is the clear leader in the clubhouse coming into 2023. It seems like he getting better with each race, while his pedigree suggests he should be able to handle the extra distance when the time comes.

2. Cave Rock

Pros: Two-time Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old; was the heavy Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) favorite.

Cons: Disappointed at the Breeders’ Cup in a big way.

Outlook: This Bob Baffert trainee had a ton of hype heading into the Breeders’ Cup, and rightfully so, as he had been flawless leading up the race. He did not show up with his best effort, though, which is concerning. Can he bounce back?

3. Arabian Knight

Pros: Sensational debut at Keeneland; solid trainer and pedigree

Cons: Only one start so far, which came in a one-turn race.

Outlook: The Bob Baffert trainee looks to be a monster; however, he still has a lot to prove with only one race under his belt. We anxiously await his next start, which will surely be in a Kentucky Derby prep race.

4. Instant Coffee

Pros: Big winner of the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2); solid distance pedigree and trainer

Cons: Lacking a bit from a speed figure standpoint; lost to a few horses on this list in the Breeders’ Futurity (G1).

Outlook: The Brad Cox trainee was able to overcome a wide trip throughout to win the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes (G2) and should move forward nicely off of that effort. We will see him this weekend in the Lecomte Stakes (G3) at Fair Grounds.

5. Victory Formation

Pros: Undefeated 3 for 3 with a recent win in the Smarty Jones Stakes; solid trainer

Cons: Speed figures are a bit low

Outlook: This undefeated colt hasn’t been overly flashy; however, he has shown solid talent in each of his wins. He is sired by a Belmont Stakes winner, and looks like a horse that should get better as the distances get longer.

6. Corona Bolt

Pros: Dominate in two starts; solid trainer and pedigree

Cons: Has only been in one-turn events so far

Outlook: There is no doubt this is a horse with major talent for Brad Cox. He must now stretch out in distance, which is a question mark, but if he can show the same talent around two-turns he will be a handful.

7. Giant Mischief

Pros: Solid turn of foot; Brad Cox

Cons: Pedigree may keep him from going long

Outlook: He has shown an awesome turn of foot and seems to be extremely talented. How long can he go? That’s the big question mark.

8. Extra Anejo

Pros: Sensational debut at Keeneland that left everyone buzzing

Cons: Currently injured; only one start which came in a 7-furlong race

Outlook: Can he get back in time to get on the trail and make an impact? The talent is there, without any doubt, but the timing of his setback is not ideal. However, he is back with the Asmussen barn now, which is a great first step.

9. Reincarnate

Pros: Two big wins in a row; Bob Baffert; distance shouldn’t be a problem

Cons: Speed figures are still a bit low; several losses on the resume

Outlook: It’s possible this horse could be getting better with each start. He showed tremendous heart holding off all challenges in his Sham Stakes (G3) victory.

10. National Treasure

Pros: Should get better as distances get longer; Bob Baffert

Cons: Several losses on the resume; not competitive with the top horses in the crop so far

Outlook: There is no doubt his third place effort in the Sham Stakes (G3) was disappointing. He might just be a “hit the board” type until we see him make a jump up and win one of these big races.

11. Faustin

Pros: Outstanding pedigree and trainer; solid debut

Cons: Only one start, which came around one turn

Outlook: His debut effort at Santa Anita has everyone excited, while there is no doubt his pedigree suggests he will get better when they stretch him out. He is definitely one to watch for when he starts next.

12. Verifying

Pros: Fast recent allowance score; tremendous pedigree; solid trainer

Cons: Was no match for the top horses in the crop as a 2-year-old

Outlook: This one could be developing nicely heading into what should be a prep race next time out. The talent and the pedigree is there, while his 97 beyer against allowance foes at Oaklawn Park was higher than any of the Kentucky Derby preps so far this season.

13. Curly Jack

Pros: Solid efforts in several stakes races; plenty of experience

Cons: No match for the top horses yet; speed figures a tad low

Outlook: This seems like a good “hit the board” type of horses along the Kentucky Derby Trail. He has shown ability, though, and has the class to make an impact this season.

14. Jace’s Road

Pros: Nice recent win at Fair Grounds; solid trainer

Cons: Two poor efforts on his resume show he has been inconsistent so far

Outlook: His Gun Runner Stakes victory opened some eyes as he dominated that field. The water will get deeper next out, though, so we will see how he progresses.

15. Dubyuhnell

Pros: Recent Remsen Stakes (G2) win was nice; should handle this distance

Cons: Speed figures are a tad low; caught the best part of the track on Remsen day at Aqueduct.

Outlook: We’re always a little leery of the Remsen Stakes (G2); however, it did produce two nice horses last season. We will take a wait and see approach with him.

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16. Lugan Knight

Pros: Has run well against solid horse; nice prep win in the Jerome

Cons: Speed figures are a cut below the top horses; distance limitations are possible

Outlook: He makes his debut on the list after a solid win in the Jerome Stakes at Aqueduct. We will see if he can progress as the distances get longer, which may be a problem.

17. Blazing Sevens

Pros: Classy horse; Grade 1 winner as a 2-year-old; solid trainer

Cons: Speed figures are low; was not competitive at the Breeders’ Cup

Outlook: Chad Brown seems to have a solid horse here; however, he seemed to be a cut below the best horses at the Breeders’ Cup. We need to see improvement from him in 2023.

18. Newgate

Pros: Second in back to back solid races; Bob Baffert

Cons: Just one win in five starts; speed figures are lacking

Outlook: This horse has proven to be consistent; however, he has had trouble finishing the job. He had every chance to win the Sham Stakes (G3) but could not get by Reincarnate.

19. Practical Move

Pros: Picked up a big win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2).

Cons: Several losses on the resume; speed figures are still a little low

Outlook: He might be improving at the right time after a solid win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2). Sometimes, what happens at Los Alamitos stays at Los Alamitos, though, so he still has some proving to do.

20. Wildatlanticstorm

Pros: Seems to be improving with each start; solid speed figures so far

Cons: Distance is in question; waters are getting ready to get deeper.

Outlook: He proved legit when beating shippers to take home the Remington Park Springboard Mile. It won’t get any easier for him form there, though, and he still has some proving to do as we go down the road in 2023.