For guys like me, the day you start thinking about the next Kentucky Derby is the day after the current Kentucky Derby. For the casual sports fan, the time is now as far as considering who you are backing for the world’s most famous horse race. Now that we are about four weeks out, let’s get a thought or two on who we view as the top ten contenders running for that blanket of roses.
1 Forte- The 2022 Juvenile champion has continued to blossom in 2023. Wins in the Fountain of Youth and Florida Derby displayed his tactical speed and big closing kick. Trainer Todd Pletcher has cultivated this colt quite nicely.
2 Angel of Empire-Magnificent run in the Risen Star Stakes was followed by an even more impressive effort in his Arkansas Derby score. Versatile and with a nice kick down the lane, this Brad Cox trained son of Classic Empire looks dangerous.
3 Kingsbarns-Unbeaten in his three career starts, this “other” horse in the Todd Pletcher barn answered all the questions in winning the Louisiana Derby in his last start. Yes, the pace was soft, but his gate-to-wire win was impressive nonetheless.
4 Practical Move- Trained by Tim Yakteen, this son of Practical Joke has been very impressive in winning stakes races in his last two starts. Gets another test in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8 as he looks to solidify his “best in the west” status.
5 Two Phil’s-Trained by Larry Rivelli, this hard-knocking son of Hard Spun is good about showing up on race day. His win over the synthetic surface at Turfway Park in the Jeff Ruby Steaks was another solid effort.
6 Tapit Trice-Handsome son of Tapit has won three in a row including a big run in Tampa Bay Derby on March 11. Gets a big test in the Bluegrass Stakes on April 8 at Keeneland. Another contender from the Todd Pletcher barn.
7 Confidence Game- Rebel Stakes winner is likely to be well rested as he is unraced since that impressive score at Oaklawn Park on February 25. Trained by Keith Desormeaux, this son of Candy Ride has two wins in four starts at Churchill Downs.
8 Hit Show- Trained by Brad Cox, this son of Candy Ride used a big stretch run in winning the Withers Stakes at Aqueduct on February 11. Running in the Wood Memorial on April 8, he has three wins in four career starts.
9 Rocket Can- Trained by Bill Mott, this son of Into Mischief has been in tough company in three stakes starts this year. A win in the Holy Bull in January was followed by a second in the Fountain of Youth and a fourth in the Arkansas Derby.
10 Geaux Rocket Ride- This lightly raced son of Candy Ride gets his big test in the Santa Anita Derby on April 8. After winning his maiden race, this Richard Mandella trainee ran a good second in San Felipe Stakes.