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2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/1/23: Arabian Knight Moves Up After Impressive Southwest Stakes Win
Arabian Knight (Coady Photography)

2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/1/23: Arabian Knight Moves Up After Impressive Southwest Stakes Win

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. He’s had two works this season as he looks to make his 3-year-old debut in the next round of preps.

2. Arabian Knight

Pros: Sensational debut at Keeneland; blowout win in the Southwest Stakes (G3); solid trainer and pedigree

Cons: He’ll have to change trainers by March 1st

Outlook: He passed his first test with flying colors in a dominant effort in the Southwest Stakes (G3). What happens next will be interesting as he must move from the Baffert barn by March 1st to earn Derby points. Whatever happens, there is no doubt this horse has major talent.

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; still no workouts this year.

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? We still haven’t seen a workout from him this year.

4. Instant Coffee

Pros: Big winner of the Lecomte Stakes (G3) gives him back to back graded stakes scored; solid distance pedigree and trainer

Cons: Still 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 poor start to win the Lecomte Stakes (G3) and should move forward nicely off of that effort. He now has back to back graded stakes scores, which makes our top two horses look even better.

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. 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.

7. 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.

8. 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.

9. 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.

10. Red Route One

Pros: Has hit the board in a few big races; faced the best horses in the crop

Cons: Never been a threat to winning since his maiden victory

Outlook: Remember Lookin At Lee? This horse is so much like him it’s not even funny. You should not expect him to win; however, he is one you can play underneath with confidence in all these big races leading up to the Derby.

11. 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.

 12. Faustin

Pros: Great Pedigree; should improve going longer

Cons: Still seems to be a little behind from a timing standpoint; speed figures still a little light

Outlook: The stretch out in distance is going to be the key for this horse. His races have been solid so far, but he projects to get much better stretching out in distance, which he’ll have to do to move up the rankings.

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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. 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. His next start should be this weekend in the Withers Stakes (G3) at Aqueduct.

15. 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.

16. Frosted Departure

Pros: Solid foundation; seems to be improving with each race

Cons: Not competitive with the top horses; speed figures still low

Outlook: His 3-year-old debut was solid, running third in the Southwest Stakes (G3), despite chasing Arabian Knight the whole race. He can move forward off of that race, while the horse should get several chances with McPeek training.

17. 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. We will see him this weekend in the Robert B. Lewis Stakes (G3) at Santa Anita.

18. Cyclone Mischief

Pros: Recent effort looks good enough; should get better with more distance

Cons: Inconsistent so far; must step up and prove he can win a graded stakes

Outlook: We’ll see if this Dale Romans trainee can really jump onto the Derby scene in this weekend’s Holy Bull Stakes (G3). The field looks light and he comes in off of an impressive allowance win, which he should be able to parlay into success this weekend.

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. 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.