Hit Show gets the first hole for Kentucky Derby race at the Kentucky Derby Draw 2023.May 1, 2023 Derbydraw 09

Favorable draw for the Derby’s morning-line favorite

Mattress Mack has an awesome promo where if the Kentucky Derby favorite wins you get your furniture free. Check out the flyer below, then let’s look at how the draw went for the favorite, Forte:

The draw for the Kentucky Derby (G1) often holds a lot of drama as owners and horsemen await to hear if a favorable post position is to be given to their runner. Intrigue for this year’s draw was nil for the blind, pill pull draw early Monday afternoon at Churchill Downs as the pre-race favorite, Forte was the first name drawn and he was assigned a favorable post in 15.

The road to the roses is full of twists and turns, but Forte’s path looks cleaner than most after today‘s draw.

For Saturday’s $3 million Kentucky Derby, 20 3-year-olds will go to the post under the Twin Spires. Should any of the 20 entered today be scratched (that can be done until 9 a.m. Friday), there are three also-eligibles in the wings: 21, Cyclone Mischief; 22, Mandarian Hero; and 23, King Russell.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, along with Forte’s owners, Mike Repole and Vincent Viola, had to be ecstatic after drawing the 15 hole for their champion 2-year-old colt. The last two years Pletcher drew the rail slot with Florida Derby (G1) winner Known Agenda in 2021 and in 2022 with Wood Memorial Stakes (G2) winner Mo Donegal. Neither runner hit the board.

Forte was installed as the 3-1 favorite for the Derby by oddsmaker Mike Battaglia. Forte, a strapping colt by Violence, was last year’s champ, and this year has been perfect in two starts in South Florida: the March 4 Fountain of Youth Stakes (G2) and 1 1/8-miles Florida Derby (G1). He has been at Churchill Downs at Pletcher’s Barn 39 and finished up his pre-Derby work April 29 with a half-mile move in :49 4/5. Regular pilot Irad Oritz Jr. will ride. 

His stablemate, Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice is the second choice on the morning line at 5-1 after drawing post 5. Luis Saez will ride Tapit Trice for the fourth time. His previous mounts came in wins in a Gulfstream Park allowance/optional claiming race, a two-length score in the Tampa Bay Derby (G2), and a neck victory over Verifying in the April 8 Blue Grass Stakes (G1) at Keeneland. The most expensive colt in the field as a $1.3 million sale yearling, has continually moved forward this spring. 

Pletcher also trains Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns, a colt that is unbeaten in just three starts. Kingsbarns, who has more early speed than the other two, drew post six.

Big things are expected of all of his runners. 

“I’m good with all of them. Good draws. We’re very happy with it,” a tacit Pletcher said.

The third choice on the morning line, at 8-1, is the Brad Cox-trained Angel of Empire, winner of Fair Grounds’ Risen Star Stakes (G2) in mid-February and the April 1 Arkansas Derby (G1).

There is quite a bit of interest from the two runners from Japan. Both drew outside slots. Derma Sotogake, winner of the UAE Derby (G2) in Dubai in late March, drew post 17 and is a 10-1 chance. The outside 20 post goes to Continuar, who was third in Dubai. He’s listed as a 50-1 chance.

Outside posts have held a hot hand of late. Authentic won the Derby from post 15 in 2020, and it was the winning post for Triple Crown winner American Pharoah (2015) and Orb in 2013. Last year, Rich Strike came from post 20, and Country House earned the 2019 roses after breaking from post 18.

The most dangerous of spots are the two to the inside. In a regular race with say, anywhere up to 12 entrants in a two-turn race, the inside would be a slight advantage as it’s the shortest way around the track. However, in the Derby, at least since 1986, it’s been, as Bruce Springsteen says, “it’s a death trap, a suicide rap.” 

Ferdinand, with the late Bill Shoemaker aboard in 1986, was the last to win from the rail. Interestingly, Affirmed in 1978, was the last to win from post 2. That’s a long time between drinks.

Hit Show, trained by Brad Cox, drew the dreaded inside post, and Verifying, also trained by Cox, will be asked to break from post 2. They are listed at 30-1 and 15-1, respectively, on the morning line. 

“Hit Show, it’s OK. We’ll live with it,” Cox said. “We have to. (Jockey) Manny (Franco) is obviously going to have to work out a trip from down in there. Same thing with Verifying. Tyler (Gaffalione) rides Verifying. Both riders are going to have to find a way into the first turn. Verifying has a little more speed than Hit Show.

The last two posts drawn—solid middle spots 10 and 11—went to Santa Anita Derby (G1) winner Practical Move (post 10, 10-1) and Disarm (post 11, 30-1). Disarm was the lone Derby worker over the local surface this morning, clocking a half mile in :49 1/5.

Churchill Downs had a new, 20-stall gate built specifically for the Derby which made its’ debut during the COVID-19 delayed Derby in September 2020. The old way was to place two starting gates together to make 20 spots, with a sizable gap between the starting gates. The new gate eliminates that space, thus giving a little more room inside by the rail to help those horses negotiate the hectic break.

So, there is only a three-year sample. Authentic, winner in 2020, won from post 15; Mandaloun, who was placed first due to the disqualification of Medina Spirit, broke from post seven; and last year’s winner, Rich Strike, drew in from the also-eligibles and broke from post 20. He and Big Brown are the only winners from that far out.

The Field:

1/Hit Show – 30-1

2/Veryifying – 15-1

3/Two Phil’s – 12-1

4/Confidence Game – 20-1

5/Tapit Trice – 5-1

6/Kingsbarn – 12-1

7/Reincarnate – 50-1

8/Mage – 15-1

9/Skinner – 20-1

10/Practical Move – 10-1

11/Disarm – 30-1

12/Jace’s Road – 15-1

13/Sun Thunder – 50-1

14/Angel of Empire – 8-1

15/Forte – 3-1

16/Raise Cain – 50-1

17/Derma Sotogake – 10-1

18/Rocket Can – 30-1

19/Lord Miles – 30-1

20/Continuar – 50-1

Also Eligible: Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero, King Russell.


Prior to the Derby draw was the post position draw for the May 5 Kentucky Oaks (G1). The Oaks, for 3-year-old fillies, run at 1 1/8 miles, drew a full field of 14, and has three also-eligibles. The double blind pill pull format was the same, but there was little drama as Wet Paint drew right in the middle at post 7 while being the second name chosen.

The daughter of Blame is bred and raced by Sheikh Mohammed’s Godolphin operation. Trained by Brad Cox, Wet Paint rides a three-race win streak into Louisville, sweeping Oaklawn Park’s trio of preps: the Martha Washington Stakes, Honeybee Stakes (G3), and Fantasy Stakes (G3), all at 1 1/16 miles. She was made the heavy 5-2 morning line choice. 

Her top competition figures to come from the 4-1 second choice, Botanical, who is also trained by Cox. Botanical has won her last four starts, all coming on Turfway Park’s synthetic surface. 

Only one other filly is listed at less than 10-1 odds, that being Southlawn at 8-1. She won the Fair Grounds Oaks (G2) in her last outing.

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