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2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/20/23: Rebel Stakes At Oaklawn Park Is Next; New Top 5!
Verifying (Coady Photography)

2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 2/20/23: Rebel Stakes At Oaklawn Park Is Next; New Top 5!

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 five 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.

3. 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.

4. 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; late to begin 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? He finally had a workout this week, so we will see if he can jump on the trail and make an impact.

5. 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. We’ll see him in the Rebel Stakes (G2) this weekend.

6. Tapit Trice

Pros: Two solid wins in a row; faster speed figures than most of the stakes winners

Cons: Still a little behind from a timing standpoint; no races around two turns yet

Outlook: This guy absolutely dusted an allowance field at Gulfstream Park, showing that he is ready for the next step up the ladder. He would have likely cruised in the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) if entered, so look for him to be a major force when he does enter a Kentucky Derby prep race.

7. Reincarnate

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

Cons: Speed figures are still a bit low; several losses on the resume; moved from Bob Baffert to Tim Yakteen

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. He’s pointing towards the Rebel Stakes (G2) this weekend at Oaklawn Park for Yakteen, which will be a major question mark.

8. 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. Let’s see how he runs this weekend in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

9. National Treasure

Pros: Should get better as distances get longer;

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. Hit Show

Pros: Solid turn of foot; Brad Cox; solid pedigree

Cons: Hasn’t beaten much; speed figures are a touch low

Outlook: This one seems to be developing nicely with each start. His win in the Withers Stakes (G3) was visually impressive, even though the competition may have been light. We’ll see if he can continue to progress for Brad Cox.

11. Angel of Empire

Pros: Solid turn of foot; Brad Cox; the longer the better

Cons: Low Speed figures; running style might hurt him in the Kentucky Derby

Outlook: You have to give him credit for a nice off the pace win in the Risen Star Stakes (G2). The horse showed that he loves the longer distances, while he should only get better the longer they go.

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12. 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.

13. 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.

14. Rocket Can

Pros: Won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) despite running wide throughout; excellent pedigree

Cons: Beyer came back extremely low; beat a questionable field

Outlook: We’ll see if he can continue to improve when they stretch out in distance. His pedigree says he should, and he’ll need to do so, as his speed figures are still pretty low.

15. 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.

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. Two Phil’s

Pros: Consistent horse; distance has been ok for him

Cons: Hasn’t been able to finish the job; low speed figures

Outlook: Consistent horses have been rare with this crop so far, so it’s nice to see you can count on him showing up with a strong effort. However, he does look to be a cut below the best horses in this crop.

18. Gun Pilot

Pros: Improving with each race, solid breeding

Cons: Yet to face stakes company; was no match for our 6th-ranked horse earlier this year

Outlook: This horse could be one to keep an eye out for as he seems to be improving with every race. We will see him in a Kentucky Derby prep race next, which will give us a good indication of where he stands amongst this crop.

19. Sun Thunder

Pros: Looks solid going longer distances

Cons: Only 1 win in 4 starts; lost the Risen Star Stakes (G2) with a perfect trip

Outlook: He has ran well in back to back prep races, while he seemed to improve stretching out in distance. He should be able to make the gate with one more solid race in the last round of preps.

20. Lugan Knight

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

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.