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2023 Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/27/23: Kingsbarns Soars, Two Phil’s Scores
Two Phil's (Jessica Morgan/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM)

2023 Kentucky Derby Top 20 Rankings 3/27/23: Kingsbarns Soars, Two Phil’s Scores

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!

The Todd Pletcher-trained Forte must prove his case to continue to be #1 on Aaron’s top 5 rankings in this weekend’s Florida Derby (G1) at Gulfstream Park. If he wins, should Forte be the top horse heading into the Kentucky Derby (G1)? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!

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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. We’ll see him this weekend in the Florida Derby (G1).

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. He’s working out well leading up to his next start in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

3. Two Phil’s

Pros: Consistent horse; 101 Beyer in Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) romp

Cons: Hasn’t been able to finish the job on dirt

Outlook: If the Kentucky Derby (G1) was run synthetic he’d probably be the favorite after a romp in the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) at Turfway Park. His 101 Beyer in that race is the fastest of any 3-year-old colt this season; however, he hasn’t been able to finish the job in a couple of dirt stakes races. Still, his talent is there, and you have to love how consistent he has been.

4. Kingsbarns

Pros: Three for three to start his career; solid pedigree; improving with every race

Cons: Speed figures still need small improvement; no races as a 3-year-old

Outlook: He looks to be developing into a monster after an ultra-impressive romp in the Louisiana Derby (G2). His lack of experience is still going to be an issue; however, he has the running style that you like to see for the Kentucky Derby.

5. Tapit Trice

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

Cons: Still a little behind from a timing standpoint; fairly green

Outlook: This guy took the next step up in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3), where he picked up another nice win despite showing some signs of immaturity. His next race should tell us much more about him.

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. We’ll see him again this weekend in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

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) this weekend.

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 as 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, but keep him on your radar heading into his next start, which will be in the Arkansas Derby (G1) this weekend.

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. We’ll see him next in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

11. Derma Sotogake

Pros: Japan is on a roll international; visually impressive win in the UAE Derby (G2)

Cons: UAE Derby horses have had zero success in the Kentucky Derby (G1)

Outlook: We’ll see if this horse can break the trend of UAE Derby (G2) runners making no impact in the Kentucky Derby (G1). He was very impressive in that victory, but others have been in the past as well. Japan is going to win this race one day and it could be sooner than we think.

12. 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.

13. 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. He’ll run this weekend in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

14. Disarm

Pros: Solid pedigree; flashy races; decent second in the Louisiana Derby (G2)

Cons: Lack of experience; 0 for 2 this season; speed figures must improve

Outlook: This one could develop into a nice horse this summer after back to back runner up efforts to kick off his season. He made a big improvement in his second race and should continue to improve with each start.

15. Instant Coffee

Pros: The Lecomte Stakes (G3) gave him back to back graded stakes wins; solid distance pedigree and trainer

Cons: No-showed in his final prep; speed figures still low

Outlook: The Brad Cox trainee was able to overcome a poor start to win the Lecomte Stakes (G3); however, he showed up with a flat effort in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He’ll need to rebound in a big way if he wants to make an impact in the Kentucky Derby (G1).

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16. Sun Thunder

Pros: Looks solid going longer distances

Cons: Only 1 win in 5 starts; lost the Risen Star Stakes (G2) with a perfect trip; wasn’t great in the Louisiana Derby (G2)

Outlook: He has ran decently in three straight prep races, while he seemed to improve stretching out in distance. He should be able to make the gate, but will need plenty of pace in front of him to have a realistic chance.

17. Jace’s Road

Pros: Runs well on dry tracks; solid trainer; good running style

Cons: Low speed figures; seems to be a cut below

Outlook: If the track is dry, then you can count on him to show up with a solid effort. He has a nice stalking running style; however, he wasn’t able to gain on the winner in the Louisiana Derby (G2). He looks to be a cut below the top horses.

18. Continuar

Pros: Japanese horses have been dangerous in big international races

Cons: Was no match for the top two horses in the UAE Derby (G2)

Outlook: He has shown some talent on the international level but has failed to get the job done against the top talent. His experience is good enough to think he will come over and run ok, though.

19. Dura Erede

Pros: Japanese horses have been dangerous in big international races

Cons: Was no match for the winner of the UAE Derby (G2) winner

Outlook: Yet another Japanese horse who will run in this race, which makes 3 currently coming over to run. The way Japanese horses are running in these races right now, you cannot count them out completely.

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.