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2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/6/23: Forte Shows Class In Fountain Of Youth; Practical Move Rises Into Top 5
Forte (Coglianese Photos / Jamie Newell)

2023 Kentucky Derby Rankings 3/6/23: Forte Shows Class In Fountain Of Youth; Practical Move Rises Into 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!

While Forte solidified his place at the top of Aaron’s Top 5 Kentucky Derby Contenders list, Practical Move rose considerably up the rankings. Did Aaron place him too high? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

1. Forte

Pros: Four stakes victories; came back looking stronger than ever

Cons: None at this point

Outlook: His win in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) at Gulfstream Park was exactly what you wanted to see. His move on the turn was eye-catching, while he was able to easily pass his rivals in the stretch. This race should be one he can build off of nicely, with his bigger challenges all ahead of him.

2. Practical Move

Pros: Picked up a big win in the Los Alamitos Futurity (G2); improved greatly off of that effort in San Felipe Stakes (G2) win

Cons: Several losses on the resume; questionable pedigree

Outlook: He improved at the perfect time in the San Felipe Stakes (G2) with one of the most impressive wins on the Kentucky Derby Trail so far. He now has back to back prep victories, while his gallop out suggests more distance should be ok, despite a questionable pedigree.

3. Arabian Knight

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

Cons: Lack of experience

Outlook: He passed his first test with flying colors in a dominant effort in the Southwest Stakes (G3). He has now moved to the Yakteen barn so he can earn points in his next start, which will come in the Arkansas Derby (G1) or Santa Anita Derby (G1).

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. 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, which should be this weekend in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3).

6. 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. He did it again last time out in the Rebel Stakes (G2) at Oaklawn Park.

7. 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.

8. Reincarnate

Pros: Never finished off the board; distance shouldn’t be a problem

Cons: Speed figures are still a bit low; several losses on the resume; never won off the lead

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, while he finished third in the Rebel Stakes (G2) despite a horrific trip. We’ll see him next in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

9. Rocket Can

Pros: Won the Holy Bull Stakes (G3) despite running wide throughout; excellent pedigree; solid second in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2).

Cons: Beyers are still low; lacks a huge turn of foot

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. He is one you need to keep on your radar, though.

10. Geaux Rocket Ride

Pros: Crushing debut win; solid connections; decent second in San Felipe Stakes (G2).

Cons: Very lightly raced; must move up the class ladder quickly

Outlook: He did well to run second in the San Felipe Stakes (G2), while he should move forward off of that race. However, you can’t help but be worried that he’s just a little late to the game. He has proven to have a high talent level, though.

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 11. Confidence Game

Pros: Solid progression; proven to be versatile

Cons: Best race came in the slop; speed figures are still lacking.

Outlook: His Rebel Stakes (G2) victory was an eye-opener, while he proved that a sloppy track is not a problem for him. He still needs to improve to be a strong contender; however, he seems to be improving.

12. 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.

13. 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.

14. Skinner

Pros: Solid pedigree; seems to be improving

Cons: Running style; has had several chances against stakes runners

Outlook: There is no doubt he seems to be an improved horse after struggling as a 2-year-old. If he can be ridden for more speed out of the gate and get some position he could be dangerous next out.

15. 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.

16. Cyclone Mischief

Pros: Decent talent level at his best; solid pedigree

Cons: Extremely inconsistent; numbers are low

Outlook: He bounce back with a solid effort in the Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) to finish third after going to the front early. If he could ever put together back to back solid races it would help, but he has been wildly inconsistent.

17. Kingsbarns

Pros: Two for two to start his career; solid pedigree

Cons: Lacks experience; low speed figures

Outlook: He looks to be developing nicely, which will lead to him getting one shot at the Kentucky Derby in the Louisiana Derby (G2) at Fair Grounds. We’ll see if he can step up in class and get the job done in that spot.

18. Litigate

Pros: Solid recent win; usually shows up with a solid effort

Cons: Speed figures are extremely low

Outlook: His Sam F. Davis Stakes (G3) win was not great; however, it still goes down as a victory. He will go to the Louisiana Derby (G2) next, where he will definitely have to step his game up.

19. 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; defeated soundly when stepping back up to stakes company

Outlook: He ran a weird race in the Rebel Stakes (G2), losing several lengths on the turn, before making a mild rally late up for fourth. He deserves one more shot at a prep; however, he just might be a cut below the best horses in this crop.

20. Raise Cain

Pros: Impressive close to win the Gotham Stakes (G3)

Cons: Low numbers; running style; beaten by several horses on the trail

Outlook: He has earned a spot into the Kentucky Derby with a win in the Gotham Stakes (G3); however, that race set up perfectly for him. He still needs to improve greatly to have a legit shot at winning the big one.