- 19 horses will compete in Saturday’s 149th Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs in Louisville after four horses have scratched
- Forte is a solid betting favorite in the Kentucky Derby odds but several enticing alternatives are present
- Who is the most likely winner and what horse presents the best wagering value for our Kentucky Derby predictions?
In years when a Triple Crown is on the line, the Belmont Stakes draws lots of attention. To a lesser degree horse racing can depend on hype around the Breeders Cup. The one home run, that guarantees massive excitement about ponies, is the Kentucky Derby. Kentucky Derby odds have shifted slightly since the last prep races were run and continue to fluctuate leading up to race day.
When Derby post positions were drawn on Monday it hurt the chances of Hit Show. The rail horse hasn’t won the roses in a generation. Kentucky Derby positions are something to consider when handicapping how to pick a Kentucky Derby winner.
A lot can happen leading up to the race. Last year’s winner, Rich Strike, wasn’t in the field until Ethereal Road scratched on Friday morning. An injury, illness, or dislike of the track can change the plan at anytime. Weather can impact the race too, though forecasts look pretty good. That said, baring significant breaking news, the field is set.
This year four horses have already been scratched including Practical Move, Lord Miles, Continuar and Skinner. The first three were replaced by Mandarin Hero, King Russell and Cyclone Mischief. There were only three horses on stand by, thus making this the first time since 2015 that only 19 horses will run.
Current Odds to Win Kentucky Derby
|Angel Of Empire||+500|
Saturday’s Kentucky Derby odds make Forte the clear favorite at +250 odds. Also listed among the top five Kentucky Derby contenders are Tapit Trice, Angel Of Empire, Derma Sotogake and Two Phil’s. Kentucky Derby odds as of May 5 at TwinSpires.
Handicapping is super important, and so too is having your favorite horse racing betting sites ready to roll. Now let’s dig in, and try to make some money.
How to Watch the Kentucky Derby
The mile-and-a-quarter Run for the Roses is the furthest distance any of the three year olds have ever run in a race. Who is up for the challenge? Let’s consider the chalk, and a handful of challengers. The race is scheduled to begin just before 7 pm EST on Saturday, with NBC providing TV coverage.
Kentucky Derby Favorites Today
On March 12 it was announced that Arabian Knight would miss the Kentucky Derby with a minor injury. The unbeaten $2.3 million son of Uncle Mo seemed like the primary rival to Breeders Cup Juvenile winner Forte. After Forte won the Florida Derby, despite the very difficult number 11 post position, it seemed like he may be the biggest conventional Kentucky Derby favorite since Arazi was -111 in 1992 (Tiz the Law was -167 in 2020 when the Derby was run in September because of COVID-19).
Forte has six wins in seven starts with his lone setback a sprint at Saratoga in his second career try. He is trained by eight time Eclipse Award winning trainer Todd Pletcher, and ridden by four time Eclipse Award winning jockey Irad Ortiz Jr. Both won top honors last year.
Forte’s speed figures do not tower over the field, and in fact are declining. Meanwhile, a lot of other horses have looked good in recent preps and could offer value in the Kentucky Derby odds. Pletcher is elite, but his Derby record is two wins from 62 runners.
Someone may prove to be better than Forte on Saturday for you Kentucky Derby predictions, but he has the best resume to this point, and has shown few weaknesses. His style, coming from behind, can work, but also may be troublesome with 19 rivals clogging up the track and an expected tepid early pace to run into.
Kentuky Derby Contenders
The primary group of Kentucky Derby front runners offers a little bit of everything.
Tapit Trice and Kingsbarns are both conditioned by Pletcher. A $1.3 million son of Tapit, Tapit Trice has four wins in five starts and is perfect in three tries this year. His victory over Verifying in the Blue Grass Stakes helped legitimize his visually impressive Tampa Bay Derby victory against a mediocre field. If you can excuse Verifying’s effort in the Rebel Stakes, where he had a difficult trip and may not have liked the slop, he has two strong recent performances and may sit a solid trip near the front.
Kingsbarns is three-for-three. He beat maidens at Gulfstream Park in January, allowance optional claimers at Tampa Bay Downs in February, and then easily took the Louisiana Derby in late March. The Louisiana Derby, at a-mile-and-three-eighths, is the longest Kentucky Derby prep race. An $800,000 son of Uncle Mo, he has done nothing wrong.
International horses have been few and far between over the years, and their track record in the Run for the Roses is miserable. Two of three winners bred outside the US are from Canada, and it’s been 40 years since a foreigner triumphed. That said, horses from Japan have seen incredible success around the world over the last few years.
Derma Sotogake finished third in February’s Saudi Derby, and then a month later won one of the fastest UAE Derby’s ever run. Bred in Japan, Derma Sotogake lost his first three races at home. Since then he is four for five, and in a race where many of the favorites seem to want to make their best run late, he may be forwardly placed.
There hasn’t been a ton of belief in Pennsylvania bred Angel of Empire. He was +1810 when finishing second in his stakes debut, January’s Smarty Jones Stakes. In the Risen Star Stakes seven weeks later he scored at +1370. He was the fourth choice when winning April’s Arkansas Derby. Was that the highest quality prep of this year’s cycle? Probably not, but the son of Belmont Stakes winner Empire Maker should have no issue with more distance, and keeps proving bettors wrong. He’s now the third favorite in the Kentucky Derby odds at +800.
West coast based horses have had great success at the Derby over the past decade or two. A lot of that is because of trainer Bob Baffert, who is banned from Churchill Downs for a second straight year after Medina Spirit was disqualified for illegal drugs in his system when winning the 2021 Derby.
Below offer available in AR, CA, DE, FL, KY, NH, NM, ND, OR, RI, SD, VT
Below offer available in CO, IL, IN, LA, MD, MA, MI, NY, OH, PA, VA, WV, WY
Kentucky Derby Analysis
Last year Rich Strike was a shocker. He paid out $163.60 on a $2 bet. He was the second highest paying Derby winner of all time. A +5000 horse is unlikely, but a bigger price is certainly possible.
Mage has only won a maiden race, but in three career starts has taken major steps forward each time. He was right with Forte down the stretch in the Florida Derby. Continued improvement would make him awfully dangerous as one of the Kentucky Derby best picks.
Two Phils has four wins in eight starts and was very competitive in a pair of Derby preps. Then he dominated the Jeff Ruby Steaks on a synthetic course at Turfway Park. Last year Rich Strike was third in the Jeff Ruby before his Derby shocker.
Kentucky Derby Expert Picks
Some years entering the Derby it is clear whether the Kentucky Derby favorites today are a top notch group, or a subpar season. Everyone wants to pick a price, because you get no credit and not a lot of profit wagering on Jordan’s Bulls. Two months ago it seemed like there was Forte, Arabian Knight, and everyone else. Arabian Knight is gone, and the group has shown promise.
That said, Forte was the best two year old in 2022, and has been the top three year old thus far this year. He may lose, but he is without question the most likely winner when breaking down the Kentucky Derby picks and analysis. If you don’t like that answer, Arazi and Tiz the Law lost as enormous favorites. However, five of the last nine Derby winners were priced under +500 in the Kentucky Derby odds.
Kentucky Derby Picks: Forte (+250)