Mandatory Credit: Photo by CSM/Shutterstock (13792996i) , 2023, Hallandale Beach, Florida, USA: Forte #4 ridden by Irad Ortiz, Jr. wins the Fountain of Youth Stakes (Grade 2) at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach, Florida on th, 2023. Liz Lamont/Eclipse Sportswire/CSM Horse Racing Fountain of Youth Stakes Day, Hallandale Beach, USA – 04 Mar 2023
The last of the Derby preps have been run, and we are just weeks away from the 2023 version at Churchill Downs. Let’s take a look at our five favorite horses:
- Angel of Empire: The Arkansas Derby was not the toughest field of the preps, but the win was as easy as they come and Brad Cox runners tend to keep their form. Will be a decent price and should get first run. We need to see how he trains at Churchill, but this horse will be a solid price.
- Forte: Florida Derby winner has won six of seven and will be the likely Kentucky Derby favorite. He has been visually impressive in almost every race until the Florida Derby. He grinded out a win but it looked like a struggle and it raises questions about the Derby distance. Deserving favorite but far from invulnerable.
- Kingsbarns: Won the Louisiana Derby in front-running fashion and should have a pace edge in Kentucky. Does not look like there will be a ton of speed and that will give him a big edge. Might not be good enough, but they will have to run him down. The Churchill surface is notoriously fast on Derby Day so that should play in his favor. Lightly raced and could improve.
- Tapit Trice: Big, strong colt has won four in a row including the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass. Not the strongest fields but should relish the Derby distance and is bred to run all day. The only question is whether or not he is good enough.
- Mage: Second to Forte in the Florida Derby; made the lead but got run down. He also had a rough trip and with a cleaner one might turn the tables. Then again, who gets a good trip in the Derby? A better timed move could get him in the mix. (We will update each week moving forward).