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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!
Did any of last weekend’s winning horses – Tapit Trice, Practical Move, or Lord Miles – do enough to unseat Forte, who’s been the top pick since Aaron’s 2023 Kentucky Derby contender rankings debuted? With less than 4 weeks until the biggest day in American horse racing, is the main event picture finally becoming clearer? Tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Pros: Four solid wins in a row; outstanding pedigree; long stride
Cons: Still a little behind from a timing standpoint; fairly green
Outlook: He did exactly what he needed to do in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) with an impressive win. His running style in the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) was not ideal; however, he was able to sit mid-pack, and ranged up to third up the backside, which put him in perfect position. If he gets that kind of trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1), then he will be ultra-tough to hold off down the stretch.
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. You simply cannot ignore how well his countryman Mandarin Hero did in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to get second by a nose, either.
Pros: Five stakes victories; has passed every test
Cons: Beyers have regressed
Outlook: His latest victory in the Florida Derby (G1) opened the door for someone to move up to the top spot. He just keeps winning, but his speed figures are regressing, which is concerning. He’s still a top contender, but at a short price, he might be a little sketchy.
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.
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 2-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.
Pros: Three impressive prep wins in row in Southern California
Cons: Questionable pedigree; didn’t look quite as sharp stretching out to 1 1/8 miles
Outlook: His win in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) was impressive; however, he didn’t have the same kick that he did in the San Felipe Stakes (G2). The distance of the Kentucky Derby (G1) is going to be tough for him and he has had perfect trips in his last 2 starts, another thing that will likely not happen in Kentucky.
Pros: Solid turn of foot; Brad Cox; the longer the better; two straight victories
Cons: Low speed figures; running style might hurt him in the Kentucky Derby
Outlook: You have to give him credit for back to back solid victories in the Risen Star Stakes (G2) and Arkansas Derby (G1). He seems to be getting better with each start, while the longer the distance the better for this horse. He now looks to be the best Cox horse coming into the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Pros: Has numbers that are comparable to the top horses in the crop
Cons: Several losses on the resume; inconsistent
Outlook: He improved greatly in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1); however, he still came up just short. That type of effort will give him a chance in the Kentucky Derby (G1), but he still will be hard-pressed to hold off some of the closers as they stretch out in distance.
Pros: Progressing with each race; competitive with our #1 horse
Cons: Behind from a timing standpoint with no races as a 2-year-old; trouble breaking from the gate
Outlook: He has proven to be a tough horse, running well in 2 stakes races despite getting poor trips in both. His troubles at the gate will make for another brutal trip in the Kentucky Derby (G1), though, which is a big worry.
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. We’ll see him this weekend in the Lexington Stakes (G3).
2023 Kentucky Derby
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; seems one paced.
Outlook: He made no progression whatsoever in the Arkansas Derby (G1) despite a perfect trip. After that effort, it looks like he might just be a tad bit behind the top horses in this crop.
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. Despite a poor post in the Wood Memorial (G2), he was still able to get second, and came within a nose of winning.
Pros: Won the Sunland Derby (G3)
Cons: Seems to be a few notches below the top horses from a speed figure standpoint.
Outlook: He reminds me a bit of Rich Strike from last year. His speed figures are low, he looks to be a cut below, but he comes with a nice run down the lane each race. If we see another pace meltdown, he might be the shocking horse who can pick up the pieces.
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.
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; didn’t run well in the Arkansas Derby (G1).
Outlook: He looked to be heading in the right direction; however, his effort in the Arkansas Derby (G1) was not great. He might just be a one-paced horse who is a cut below the top of this crop.
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Pros: Improved greatly to win the Wood Memorial (G2)
Cons: Hadn’t shown much before his win at Aqueduct.
Outlook: Give him credit for improving at the right time and beating a suspect Wood Memorial (G2) field at Aqueduct. However, we’ll need to see more improvement from him if he can do the same thing in Kentucky.
Pros: Consistent horse; solid pedigree
Cons: Low numbers; running style; failed to win several prep races
Outlook: He has earned a spot into the Kentucky Derby with several on-the-board finishes throughout the prep season; however, he hasn’t been able to actually win any of them. It’ll be hard to change that trend in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
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.
Pros: Improved in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1)
Cons: Has always been a cut below the best horses in the crop
Outlook: He improved enough in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1) to finish third, which gets him in the gate. We’ll need to see a lot more improvement for him to make an impact in the big one, though.
Pros: Impressive close to win the Gotham Stakes (G3)
Cons: Low numbers; running style; beaten by several horses on the trail; nowhere close in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1)
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 made no impact in the Blue Grass Stakes (G1).
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