June 21, 2024

Get to know the 2023 Kentucky Derby contenders

The 149th Kentucky Derby is set for May 6, 2023 (Photo by Coady Photography)

***Updated with scratches of Lord Miles, Continuar, Practical Move; field with posts and ML odds

The Road to the Kentucky Derby points races are now in the books, the leaderboard is finalized, and the field for the 149th Kentucky Derby (G1) is crystallizing. This post will be updated as defections occur, and contenders advance from the “bubble” into the top 20, through the Derby draw on Monday, May 1.

Forte, last year’s champion two-year-old male and the Kentucky Derby Future Wager favorite, tops the list with 190 points. His Hall of Fame trainer, Todd Pletcher, holds a strong hand as he seeks a third Derby trophy. Tapit Trice (150 points) and Kingsbarns (100 points) have jumped into the fray this spring, and stablemate Major Dude (40 points), currently on the outside looking in, could make it a Pletcher quartet.

Brad Cox likewise has three high-profile chances – Angel of Empire (154 points), Hit Show (60 points) and Verifying (54 points) – with a fourth, Jace’s Road (45 points), first on the bubble.

As Jace’s Road uncertain status indicates, the points cutoff is higher this year, splitting those who earned 45 points. The tiebreak, non-restricted stakes earnings, puts Reincarnate ($263,250) in the field just ahead of Jace’s Road ($200,350).

Reincarnate is the lesser of trainer Tim Yakteen’s duo, with Practical Move (160 points) ranking as the leading West Coast hopeful and second overall on the leaderboard. Unlike Reincarnate, a transfer from the suspended Bob Baffert, Practical Move has been developed by Yakteen throughout his career.

Japanese interest is strong, with at least two set to line up. Derma Sotogake (100 points) and Continuar (Japan Road invitee) are assured of starts, while Mandarin Hero (40 points) needs help to get into the gate.

For more coverage and analysis, see the contenders section at TwinSpires.com as well as the Brisnet.com Kentucky Derby Guide.

149th Kentucky Derby

Forte (190 points), post 15, 3-1 favorite

Trying to join Street Sense and Nyquist as Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) champions to wear the roses, Forte dominated his Fountain of Youth (G2) comeback, but had to scramble late to win the Florida Derby (G1).

Owner: Repole Stable & St. Elias Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Irad Ortiz Jr.

Pedigree: Violence-Queen Caroline, by Blame

Practical Move (160 points), post 10, 10-1 – Scratched

Smashing winner of the Los Alamitos Futurity (G3) and San Felipe (G2) cut it a lot closer when just lasting in the Santa Anita Derby (G1).

Owner: Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie Amestoy & Roger Beasley; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: Ramon Vazquez

Pedigree: Practical Joke-Ack Naughty, by Afleet Alex

Angel of Empire (154 points), post 14, 8-1

Risen Star (G2) scorer raised his profile with an authoritative victory in the Arkansas Derby (G1).

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Flavien Prat

Pedigree: Classic Empire-Armony’s Angel, by To Honor and Serve

Tapit Trice (150 points), post 5, 5-1

$1.3 million yearling started slowly but finished well to win the Tampa Bay Derby (G3) and Blue Grass (G1).

Owner: Whisper Hill Farm & Gainesway Stable; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Luis Saez

Pedigree: Tapit-Danzatrice, by Dunkirk

Two Phil’s (123 points), post 3, 12-1

Two Phil's wins the Jeff Ruby Steaks

Placegetter in the Lecomte (G3) and Risen Star took a leap forward on the Turfway Park Tapeta and ran away with the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3)

Owner: Patricia’s Hope & Phillip Sagan; Trainer: Larry Rivelli; Jockey: Jareth Loveberry

Pedigree: Hard Spun-Mia Torri, by General Quarters

Lord Miles (105 points), post 19, 30-1 – Scratched

Underachiever in Florida preps improved at Aqueduct to prevail in three-way Wood Memorial (G2) tussle.

Owner: Vegso Racing Stable; Trainer: Saffie Joseph Jr.; Jockey: Paco Lopez

Pedigree: Curlin-Lady Esme, by Majestic Warrior

Derma Sotogake (100 points), post 17, 10-1

Japanese shipper employed a new pacesetting style to romp in the UAE Derby (G2) in fast time.

Owner: Hiroyuki Asanuma; Trainer: Hidetaka Otonashi; Jockey: Christophe Lemaire

Pedigree: Mind Your Biscuits-Amour Poesie, by Neo Universe

Kingsbarns (100 points), post 6, 12-1

Lightly-raced colt capitalized on a soft pace to go 3-for-3 in the Louisiana Derby (G2).

Owner: Spendthrift Farm; Trainer: Todd Pletcher; Jockey: Jose Ortiz

Pedigree: Uncle Mo-Lady Tapit, by Tapit

Raise Cain (64 points), post 16, 50-1

Big winner of the Gotham (G3) around a one-turn mile closed belatedly for fifth in the Blue Grass.

Owner: Andrew & Rania Warren; Trainer: Ben Colebrook; Jockey: Gerardo Corrales

Pedigree: Violence-Lemon Belle, by Lemon Drop Kid

Rocket Can (60 points), post 18, 30-1

Holy Bull (G3) victor has since placed second in the Fountain of Youth and fourth in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: Frank Fletcher Racing Operations; Trainer: Bill Mott; Jockey: Junior Alvarado

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Tension, by Tapit

Hit Show (60 points), post 1, 30-1

Impressive Withers (G3) hero was just edged when bounced around between foes in the Wood.

Owner: Gary & Mary West; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Manny Franco

Pedigree: Candy Ride-Actress, by Tapit

Confidence Game (57 points), post 4, 20-1

Rebel (G2) upsetter has been freshened since that stakes breakthrough in the slop.

Owner: Don’t Tell My Wife Stables; Trainer: Keith Desormeaux; Jockey: James Graham

Pedigree: Candy Ride-Eblouissante, by Bernardini

Verifying (54 points), post 2, 15-1

The Justify half-brother to Midnight Bisou is on the upswing after a near-miss in the Blue Grass.

Owner: Westerberg, Magnier, Poulin, Smith & Tabor; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Tyler Gaffalione

Pedigree: Justify-Diva Delite, by Repent

Sun Thunder (54 points), post 13, 50-1

Risen Star runner-up was later a non-threatening fifth in the Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Blue Grass.

Owner: R. T Racing Stable & Cypress Creek Equine; Trainer: Ken McPeek; Jockey: Brian Hernandez Jr.

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Greenfield d’Oro, by Medaglia d’Oro

Mage (50 points), post 8, 15-1

Inexperienced colt almost toppled Forte in the Florida Derby.

Owner: OGMA Investments, Ramiro Restrepo, Sterling Racing & CMNWLTH; Trainer: Gustavo Delgado; Jockey: Javier Castellano

Pedigree: Good Magic-Puca, by Big Brown

Disarm (46 points), post 11, 30-1

Louisiana Derby runner-up was a surprise addition to the Lexington (G3), where his third-place effort netted just enough points to get him in the Derby field.

Owner: Winchell Thoroughbreds; Trainer: Steve Asmussen; Jockey: Joel Rosario

Pedigree: Gun Runner-Easy Tap, by Tapit

Reincarnate (45 points), post 7, 50-1

Sham (G3) winner has placed third in his ensuing preps at Oaklawn Park, hampered by a bad trip in the Rebel but without much of an excuse in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables et al; Trainer: Tim Yakteen; Jockey: John Velazquez

Pedigree: Good Magic-Allanah, by Scat Daddy

Jace’s Road (45 points), post 12, 50-1

Gun Runner S. romper flopped in a sloppy Southwest (G3) but bounced back with a third in the Louisiana Derby.

Owner: West Point Thoroughbreds & Albaugh Family Stables; Trainer: Brad Cox; Jockey: Florent Geroux

Pedigree: Quality Road-Out Post, by Silver Deputy

Skinner (45 points), post 9, 20-1

Third in both the San Felipe and Santa Anita Derby, the closer got within a half-length in his latest (as pictured, number 7 on left).

Owner: C R K Stable; Trainer: John Shirreffs; Jockey: Juan Hernandez

Pedigree: Curlin-Winding Way, by Malibu Moon

Continuar (Japan Road invitation), post 20, 50-1 – Scratched

Cattleya S. winner added to his Japan Road points by finishing a distant third in the UAE Derby.

Owner: Lion Race Horse Co.; Trainer: Yoshito Yahagi; Jockey: Ryusei Sakai

Pedigree: Drefong-Pan de Ring, by King Kamehameha

Cyclone Mischief (45 points), 50-1

Fountain of Youth third replicated that result, but reduced his beaten margin, in the Florida Derby.

Owner: Albaugh Family Stables & Castleton Lyons; Trainer: Dale Romans; Jockey: Corey Lanerie

Pedigree: Into Mischief-Areyoucominghere, by Bernardini

Mandarin Hero (40 points), 20-1

Denizen of Japan’s NAR circuit nearly stunned the Santa Anita Derby.

Owner: Hiroaki Arai; Trainer: Terunobu Fujita; Jockey: Kazushi Kimura

Pedigree: Shanghai Bobby-Namura Nadeshiko, by Fuji Kiseki

King Russell (40 points), 50-1

Late Triple Crown nominee got up for second at 58-1 in the Arkansas Derby.

Owner: Brereton C. Jones & Naber Racing; Trainer: Ron Moquett; Jockey: Rafael Bejarano

Pedigree: Creative Cause-Believe You Will, by Proud Citizen

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