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Kentucky Derby Predictions & Odds: Forte Is Topping the First Leg of the Triple Crown

Written by: Brian Zipse
Updated May 6, 2023
15 min read

Kentucky Derby Odds and Post Position

Here are the latest odds for the 2023 Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.










M Franco

B Cox





T Gaffalione

B Cox





J Loveberry

L Rivelli





J Graham

J K Desormeaux





L Saez

T Pletcher





J Ortiz

T Pletcher





J Velazquez

T Yakteen





J Castellano

G Delgado





J J Hernandez

J Shirreffs





R Vasquez

T Yakteen





J Rosario

S Asmussen





F Geroux

B Cox





B J Hernandez Jr

K McPeek





F Prat

B Cox





I Ortiz Jr

T Pletcher





G Corrales

B Colebrook





C Lemaire

H Otonashi





J Alvarado

W Mott





P Lopez

S Joseph Jr





R Sakai

Y Yahagi

*Odds provided by author Brian Zipse.

Kentucky Derby Predictions and Picks

Here are my plays ($81 in total)

50-cent Trifecta Part Wheel - Practical Move, Two Phil's, and Forte over Practical Move, Two Phil's, Forte, Rocket Can, Derma Sotogake, Angel of Empire, and Tapit Trice over Practical Move, Two Phil's, Forte, Rocket Can, Derma Sotogake, Angel of Empire, Tapit Trice, Skinner Confidence Game, Disarm, Hit Show = $81

If you're playing only to win, go with my top pick Practical Move (10/1).    



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Kentucky Derby Predictions

A full field of 20 3-year-old colts are entered in Saturday’s 149th edition of the $3 million Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs.

Topping the first leg of the Triple Crown is last year’s juvenile champion, Forte. Trained by Todd Pletcher, the son of Violence comes into the biggest race of his life on a five-race winning streak. 

Most recently, the champion was a determined winner of the Grade 1 Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park. Irad Ortiz, Jr. will once again be in the saddle and the pair will break from the 15-post.

Chief among his opposition in the 1 1/4-mile Kentucky Derby will be his stablemate Tapit Trice. The second of three from the Pletcher barn, he also enters on a winning streak.

Among his four straight wins include an easy win in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby two starts back and then a game victory in the Grade 1 Blue Grass last out.

The third choice on the morning line is the Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire. One of four for trainer Brad Cox, he was a 4 1/4-length winner of that Grade 1 in his most recent start. 

Before that the son of Classic Empire was a late-running winner of the Grade 2 Risen Star at Fair Grounds.

As the first leg of the Triple Crown, the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby will be followed by the Preakness (G1) two weeks later at Pimlico, and then the Belmont Stakes (G1) three weeks after that at Belmont Park.

Get to Know the Field: Kentucky Derby Contenders 2023


A clear-cut champion as a juvenile, this Todd Pletcher-trained son of Violence has done nothing wrong so far this year. An easy win in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth, was followed by an interesting victory in the Grade 1 Florida Derby. 

There he was quickly passed on the turn by the lightly raced Mage, before uncorking a strong late run to get by the horse who had rallied by him. You don’t often see horses win like that, and it was a further testament to his class. 

It should be all systems go for him in his third start of the year, but he will need to get a good trip to prove to be the best of the crop at 3. He is the horse to beat, but as the favorite in this wide-open race, I do believe it’s worth it to take a small shot to beat him.

Tapit Trice

Another from the Pletcher barn, this powerhouse son of Tapit has displayed a strong ability to finish off his races, which could be a very good sign for him as he moves to the 10 furlongs of the Kentucky Derby. 

In his Tampa Bay Derby win two starts back, he outclassed the field and ran right by in the stretch. Last time, in the Grade 1 Blue Grass, he was pushed by a talented horse in Verifying. 

It only gets tougher here, but he is an obvious threat. A slow break from the gate, which he has done before, could be costly, but regardless, he is one of the most likely horses in the field to be finishing strongly to the wire.

Angel of Empire

The first of four from trainer Brad Cox, this son of Classic Empire did not look like one of the top horses of his crop in his first four races, but horses this age can really come around this time of year, and he might now be ready to step to the head of the class. 

Like the two Pletcher favorites listed ahead of him, he likes to come from behind, so he too will need to work out a good trip. He was able to find those kinds of trips in both the Grade 2 Risen Star and Grade 1 Arkansas Derby, so it will be interesting to see how he handles a bit of adversity. 

Coming off two good-looking stakes wins in Louisiana and Arkansas, he is clearly a threat in here, and a must use in the exotics, but this will definitely be the toughest test he has faced.

Practical Move

A winner of three straight graded stakes races, this son of Practical Joke has proven himself to be the best 3-year-old in Southern California. Trained by Tim Yakteen, I really like the way he finished things off two starts back in the Grade 2 San Felipe. 

Things were tougher last time in his victory in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby, but he may not have been fully cranked up after missing some training time due to weather and track closures. 

If he can move forward on Saturday, as I suspect, I believe he has all the necessary ingredients to win the Kentucky Derby. He’s faced good horses throughout his career, is battle-tested, and can strike quickly to the lead. In a wide-open heat, he is the top pick.

Derma Sotogake

No horse has ever come over from the UAE Derby in Dubai and performed well in the Kentucky Derby. If ever there was a horse to buck the trend, this could be the one. A strapping son of Mind Your Biscuits, he looked great in winning that rich race at Meydan in a gallop. 

In fact, ever since switching to dirt, he has been an impressive horse. How well the international horses stack up to the Americans on dirt is always a question, but Japanese runners have been winning all over the world of late, including on dirt. 

It’s obviously a difficult task to come to America and face our best young horses in the Kentucky Derby, but he looks like a horse who could be up to the task. He’s not my top pick, but the versatile runner will be included in my exotics.



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The third of three strong entrants from the Pletcher barn, this is the inexperienced one of the trio. A son of Uncle Mo, he has looked good in winning all of his career starts, but not having started at 2, he comes in with only three career races. 

Clearly, he has serious talent, but in his only start against stakes company, he had a very easy time of it, setting a moderate early pace. In other words, I do not believe he has been tested in any of his three races. 

That concerns me as he steps into the cauldron that is the Kentucky Derby. Undefeated and talented, it would not surprise me if he ran well, but I will take a stand against the horse with only three career starts. 

Two Phil’s 

This one is my top choice among all the longshots. A son of Hard Spun, who ran well in all three legs of the Triple Crown, he has plenty of experience while running at a number of different tracks. Among them, he is already a stakes winner at Churchill Downs. 

A good second and third in two graded stakes to begin the season, he stepped it up last time earning one of the highest speed figures of the crop when winning the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks. 

That did come over Turfway Park’s all-weather track, but we already know that he likes dirt. Working well since I believe he is coming into his own at the right time. I believe he has a big shot on Saturday.


Trained by Brad Cox, this son of Justify has shown some flashes of serious potential. His two starts against non-stakes horses were very impressive, but he has yet to break through in four starts against graded stakes competition. 

Having said that, he has been thrown into some difficult spots, and he has not been embarrassed. Clearly, his last race, when second to Tapit Trice, was his best effort yet. Will he take another step forward on Saturday? 

It’s possible, but needing to show some speed from his inside post position, he will likely need to work hard early, and throughout, not to be shuffled behind horses. He is talented, but I just do not see this race setting up well for his chances.

Hit Show

The unlucky horse at the post-position draw, this son of Candy Ride will need good racing luck to overcome the inside rail draw in the huge field. The good news is that he wants to rally anyway, so maybe he can save ground early and find the holes when he needs them. 

The third of four from the Brad Cox-barn, it’s hard to fault his racing record, including a second-place finish in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial, where he was probably unlucky not to win. 

Still, it will be a noticeable jump up in class coming from those Derby preps at Aqueduct, where the fields were not as good as other places. He’s in with a shot, but I do like a few other longshots better.

Confidence Game

A true wildcard, this son of Candy Ride has not raced since winning a sloppy edition of the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes ten weeks ago. 

It’s uncharted territory to see a horse come into the Derby off such a long break in modern racing. When last seen, he was a surprise in the Rebel, but ran a very strong race to beat a deep field. He also has two wins over the track at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old. 

Still, that layoff is a question mark, as is his ability to beat the top horses in here. He has been working well over the track, pleasing his trainer Keith Desormeaux. He is an interesting longshot.


The last horse to qualify for the race is certainly a horse with a chance. A son of Curlin, he was always well-liked by his connections. Trained by John Shirreffs, who has won the Derby before, he ran third in a Grade 1 race as a maiden. 

A sharp winner of his seasonal debut, he has unsuccessfully chased Practical Move, but did show improvement last time in the Santa Anita Derby. 

He has the pedigree and looks of a horse that will handle the 1 1/4-mile trip, and is likely to be passing horses in the lane. He is one of the more playable longshots in this field.


Like Kingsbarns, this one has only run three times in his career. I see that as a real disadvantage in the Kentucky Derby, which, for numerous factors, is the most difficult race all these horses will ever run. 

Having said that, this son of Good Magic has looked like a very nice horse in his first three starts. Trained by Gustavo Delgado, he has overcome some trouble to run a pair of good efforts behind Forte. 

If you believe that Forte is the best horse in this race, that Florida Derby second-place finish looks even better. He could have more improvement in him, but I still have to side with others with more experience on Saturday.


Trained by Steve Asmussen, this son of Gun Runner has had three chances this year, and although he finished in the top three each time, he has not come all that close to winning. 

Having said that, he has the pedigree to get better with experience and distance and really has not run a bad race in his five-start career. 

He will need to move forward off that third-place finish last time in the Lexington Stakes, but he is certainly eligible to do that. The distance should not be a problem. He is a longshot with a chance on Saturday.

Rocket Can

Of all the horses likely to be really big odds on Saturday, this is the one I like the best. After winning the Grade 3 Holy Bull three starts back, the son of Into Mischief stayed on well against two of the Derby favorites in his last two races. 

Neither performance was good enough to win on Saturday, but I do like the way he had less-than-perfect trips and kept running on in the stretch. Trained by Bill Mott, I think the 10 furlongs will be good for him, and he also has some nice experience over the Churchill Downs track.

I’m not sure that he is fast enough to win the whole thing, but getting blinkers on, I do think he is poised to run a good, grinding race that could see him finishing in the exotics at a very healthy price.  


After a very interesting performance in the Rebel, in which he overcame a bad break in the slop and weaved his way through horses to get up for third, this son of Good Magic was a bit disappointing when a clearly beaten third in the Arkansas Derby. 

Formerly trained by Bob Baffert, and now trained by Tim Yakteen, it’s possible he can bounce back with an improved effort on Saturday. 

He does have some tactical speed, so he should be in touch early. Still, with so many other horses to like, including his stablemate, I just couldn’t find enough reason to believe in him as a live longshot.

Lord Miles

Drawn way outside in the 19-hole, this son of Curlin will have a tall task if he is to build upon his win in the Grade 2 Wood Memorial. 

He did run a good race that day at Aqueduct, to narrowly win at odds of 59/1, but the field he beat was probably the weakest of all the major Kentucky Derby preps. 

He is a horse who I always thought had some untapped talent, but I think his win in the last one was as far as it goes. He will not make it two upsets in a row.

Raise Cain

After a big upset win in the Gotham this Ben Colebrook-trainee could not repeat the feat in the Grade 1 Blue Grass. 

The competition was tougher in the last one, led by Tapit Trice, and this son of Violence looked a bit overmatched. I honestly did not like how far he was out of it early, but in all likelihood, he will be well back early in this one as well. 

I believe there are a number of longshots who have a chance to be involved here, unfortunately, this is not one of them.

Sun Thunder

This Into Mischief colt will add blinkers for trainer, Kenny McPeek, on Saturday. Although he is 0-for-4 this year, he did run a good race to rally for second as a 16/1 longshot in the Risen Star. 

Even in that career performance, though, Angel of Empire was clearly better late. Since then he produced only mild rallies to finish fifth in the Louisiana Derby and fourth in the Blue Grass. 

He wasn’t close in either, and with all the strong late runners in the Derby, it’s hard to pick him out as a horse that will run a big one on Saturday.

Jace’s Road

The last of the Brad Cox brigade, this son of Quality Road does have the speed to be involved early. After a nice gate-to-wire win in the listed Gun Runner Stakes to close out last year, his two races this year have not been as good. 

Perhaps the sloppy track is an excuse for his fifth-place performance in the Southwest Stakes, but he has no excuse in his last, as he got a fast track and a moderate early pace in the Louisiana Derby. 

He was no match for Kingsbarns that afternoon and Saturday only gets that much tougher. I don’t see him sticking around as a solid contender in the stretch.


The second horse in the race from Japan, this son of Drefong has been beaten by Derma Sotogake three times already. 

The first two were close, but in the last one he was defeated by his rival by ten lengths. Of the two, he seems less likely to handle the 10-furlong distance of the Kentucky Derby. 

Given his far-outside post-draw and many others here who I prefer, it’s difficult to recommend him as a serious contender.



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How to Bet on the Kentucky Derby

If you’re new to betting, follow our step-by-step guide on how to place your first wager on the Kentucky Derby.

  1. Choose a sportsbook: To begin, browse through the selection of reputable sportsbooks on this page. Use our exclusive links to access the registration page and claim your sign-up bonus.

  2. Register an account: Click on the "Sign Up" or "Register" button on the sportsbook's homepage. Fill in the required personal information, such as your name, address, date of birth, and contact details. Ensure that the information provided is accurate, as it may be verified later.

  3. Claim your bonus: If applicable, enter the promo code or follow the instructions provided with our exclusive link to claim your sign-up bonus. This may require an initial deposit, which can typically be made via debit/credit card, e-wallet, or bank transfer.

  4. Familiarize yourself with the platform: Once registered, navigate through the sportsbook's interface to familiarize yourself with its features, such as the odds format, betting markets, and available events.

  5. Find Kentucky Derby markets: Search for the horse racing section, often located in the main menu or listed under "Sports." There should be a section specifically for the Kentucky Derby, click this to access all of the betting markets for the race.

  6. Select your wager type: Study the odds and select the type of bet you want to place, such as Win, Place, Show, Exacta, or Trifecta. Click on the odds corresponding to your chosen horse(s) and bet type.

  7. Set your stake: Enter the desired amount you wish to bet in the designated field, often called "Stake" or "Bet Amount." Double-check your selection and stake before proceeding.

  8. Confirm your bet: Click on the "Place Bet" or "Confirm" button to finalize your wager. A confirmation message should appear on-screen, and your bet will be listed in your account's bet history.

Remember to always bet responsibly and adhere to the sportsbook's terms and conditions.

Different Types of Bets You Can Place for Kentucky Derby

There are a variety of popular bet types when it comes to placing wagers on the Kentucky Derby. Below is a summary of the most common bet types you will encounter.


A win bet is a straightforward wager on a single horse to finish first in the race. If your chosen horse wins, you collect the payout based on the provided odds.


A place bet is a wager on a horse to finish either first or second in the race. This bet type provides a higher probability of winning compared to a win bet, but the payout is lower.


A show bet involves wagering on a horse to finish in any of the top three positions (first, second, or third). While this bet type has a higher chance of winning, the potential payout is lower than win and place bets.


An exacta bet requires selecting two horses to finish first and second in the exact order. This bet type offers a higher potential payout due to the increased difficulty of predicting the precise outcome.


A trifecta bet involves selecting three horses to finish first, second, and third in the exact order. The trifecta yields an even higher payout than an exacta due to the increased complexity of accurately predicting the top three finishers.


A superfecta bet is the most challenging wager, requiring bettors to pick the top four finishers in the exact order. While the potential payout is substantial, the difficulty of predicting the correct order of the top four horses makes it a high-risk bet type.

Best Kentucky Derby Betting Sites

Here are our top recommended sportsbooks for betting on the Kentucky Derby. For more information, take a look at our full list of the best Kentucky Derby betting sites.


TwinSpires, the official betting partner of the Kentucky Derby, offers a premier online sportsbook experience for horse racing enthusiasts. With a user-friendly interface and an extensive range of betting markets, TwinSpires provides comprehensive coverage of the iconic Run for the Roses. 

In addition to traditional bet types like win, place, and show, TwinSpires offers more advanced wagering options such as exacta, trifecta, and superfecta. New users can take advantage of exclusive promotions and sign-up bonuses, while seasoned bettors can benefit from expert analysis, handicapping tools, and real-time odds updates to make informed decisions on race day.

TwinSpires is currently offering new customers a $200 sign-up bonus - claim here.


TVG is another US sportsbook that specializes in horse racing. Its intuitive interface makes it easy for bettors to explore a variety of wagering options, from traditional win, place, and show bets to more complex exacta, trifecta, and superfecta wagers. 

With TVG's live streaming capabilities, fans can enjoy the excitement of the Kentucky Derby and place their bets from the convenience of their own homes.

TVG’s sign-up promo allows you to get your first single horse wager back up to $200 - claim now!

How Are Kentucky Derby Odds Formulated?

One of the key factors in setting odds is the horse's past performance, including its win-loss record, finishing times, and the quality of competition faced in previous races. The horse's pedigree, or lineage, also plays a role, as certain bloodlines are known for producing successful racehorses. 

Other factors include the horse's workout times leading up to the race, jockey and trainer records, and the post position draw.

Bookmakers and handicappers analyze these factors and assign initial odds, often referred to as the "morning line odds." These odds are a starting point, providing an estimate of each horse's chances of winning based on the available information.

However, it is important to note that the final odds for the Kentucky Derby are primarily determined by the pari-mutuel betting system. Unlike fixed odds betting, where the odds are set and remain constant, pari-mutuel odds fluctuate based on the betting public's wagers. 

As more bets are placed, the odds adjust to reflect the distribution of the money wagered on each horse. This means that the odds you see at the time of placing a bet may differ from the final odds used to calculate your payout.

How to Watch the Kentucky Derby

  • What: Kentucky Derby (Grade 1)
  • Location: Churchill Downs
  • Time: Saturday, May 6 -- 6:57 pm Eastern time
  • How to Watch: NBC, FanDuel TV
  • Purse: $3,000,000

Past Kentucky Derby Winners

The Kentucky Derby race has been run since 1875, so there has been 148 winners over the past 147 years. Here are all of the winner since 2000.



Rich Strike









Country House






Always Dreaming






American Pharoah



California Chrome






I'll Have Another



Animal Kingdom



Super Saver



Mine That Bird



Big Brown



Street Sense









Smarty Jones



Funny Cide



War Emblem






Fusaichi Pegasus


Kentucky Derby 2023 FAQs

Who is the favorite to win the 2023 Kentucky Derby?

How long is the Kentucky Derby race?

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Image for Brian Zipse


Brian Zipse

288 Articles

Taken to the races at a very young age, Brian has been a passionate fan of horse racing his entire life. Professionally, his work has been published on several leading industry sites. Brian served as the Editor of Horse Racing Nation from 2010-2017, where he still writes a regular column and hosts the popular weekly webcast HorseCenter.

Email: [email protected]

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