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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!
The 2023 Kentucky Derby Trail has left its final stop before Churchill Downs. I want to thank everyone for reading these articles all year long. It’s always bittersweet when we hit this point in the season, with this being the last set of rankings of the year after doing them since November. However, it’s also great because next week, we will have official picks for the 2023 Kentucky Derby! Don’t forget to Like, Subscribe, & tell us YOUR thoughts in the Comments section!
Pros: Four straight solid wins; 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: 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: Solid turn of foot; Brad Cox; the longer the better; 2 straight graded stakes wins
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 and it seems like the longer the distance, the better. He now looks to be the best Cox horse coming into the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Pros: Three straight impressive graded stakes wins in Southern California
Cons: Questionable pedigree; didn’t look quite as sharp stretching out to 1 1/8 miles
Outlook: He didn’t have the same kick winning the Santa Anita Derby (G1) 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’s had perfect trips in his last 2 starts, another thing that will likely not happen in Kentucky.
Pros: Japan is on a roll internationally; visually impressive win in the UAE Derby (G2)
Cons: UAE Derby horses have had zero prior 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 also cannot ignore how well his countryman Mandarin Hero did in the Santa Anita Derby (G1) to get second by a nose.
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Pros: Consistent horse; crop-best 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, then 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 this year. Still, his talent is there, and you have to love how consistent he’s 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; Prat chose to ride Angel of Empire instead
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, but he has the running style that you like to see for the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Pros: Speed figures 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), coming 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 top-ranked 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 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 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.
2023 Kentucky Derby
Pros: Solid progression; proven to be versatile
Cons: Best race came in the slop; speed figures are lacking; no race since February
Outlook: His Rebel Stakes (G2) victory was an eye-opener when he proved that a sloppy track is not a problem. He still needs to improve to be a strong contender and he won’t have raced between the Rebel in February and the Kentucky Derby in May, a gap which rarely works out in a horse’s favor.
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: 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, then he might be the shocking horse who can pick up the pieces.
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 to start the year, but his effort in the Arkansas Derby (G1) was not great. He might just be one-paced and a cut below the top of this crop.
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.
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Pros: Consistent horse; solid pedigree
Cons: Low speed figures; running style; failed to win several prep races
Outlook: He earned his spot with several on-the-board finishes throughout the prep season but didn’t win any of them. It’ll be hard to change that trend in the Kentucky Derby (G1).
Pros: Solid pedigree; flashy races; decent second in the Louisiana Derby (G2)
Cons: Lack of experience; 0 for 3 this season; speed figures must improve
Outlook: This one could develop into a nice horse this summer but doesn’t look to be good enough as of right now. He made a big improvement in his second race of the season but made very little forward progress last time out in the Lexington Stakes (G3).
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 showed some talent on the international level but failed to get the job done against the top talent. His experience is good enough to think that he’ll come to America and run ok, though.
Pros: Solid running style
Cons: Inconsistent; not a fan of an off track
Outlook: This guy continues to get better with each start and the added distance should not be a problem. He had big chances in both of his last races, though, and couldn’t finish the job. That is a major concern.
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 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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