Kentucky Derby History and Odds


Kentucky Derby History and Odds


This coming Saturday sees the biggest event of the US racing year, bar none. When it comes to stateside action, there is simply nothing to top the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs. In many ways, this 1m2f contest is the US equivalent of the Aintree Grand National – albeit run over a significantly shorter trip, on dirt rather than turf, and minus the 30 fences. The similarity comes in the importance of the race to the general public – for once-a-year punters, this is the event on which they bet.

Referred to as the “Run for the Roses” – in reference to the spectacular garland draped over the winner – and the “Most exciting two minutes in sport”, the race made its debut in 1875 and hasn’t missed a year since – running continuously through two World Wars and a Global Pandemic!

In addition to its huge public appeal, the race is also one of the classiest events of the year, acting as the first leg of the US Triple Crown, with the Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes serving as the second and third legs. In terms of prestige, this trio of contests are the rough equivalent of the English 2000 Guineas, Epsom Derby, and St. Leger Stakes.

If the popularity and prestige weren’t enough, the prize money certainly catapults this contest into the upper echelons of global racing - with a cool $3m on offer in 2023. That’s below the $6m of the Breeders Cup Classic, or the astronomical $12m sum of the Dubai World Cup out in Dubai – but is still more than enough to spark the interest of the owners of the most talented three-year-olds in training.

2023 Edition – Saturday 6th May 11:57pm (UK Time)

With the final countdown to the latest renewal now on, and the field finalised, the question on the lips of punters is - who will be joining the likes of Secretariat, Affirmed, and American Pharoah on the roll of honour in 2023?

Pletcher to Plunder the Prize?

Amongst the trainers on show this year, the betting market would suggest that Todd Pletcher holds the strongest hand, with the duo of Forte (10/3 William Hill) and Tapit Trice (11/2 William Hill) having surged to the head of the betting on the back of a streak of impressive wins.

Of that pair, Forte boasts the most impressive CV. A son of the top-class miler, Violence, the mount of Irad Ortiz Jr. is in the process of compiling an excellent CV of his own. Rattling off a quickfire hattrick of Grade 1 triumphs last season – culminating in a strong staying effort to land the Breeders Cup Juvenile – the colt has looked just as good as a three-year-old. Last sighted getting on top late in the Florida Derby at Gulfstream Park, he lacks the early speed of many of these, but there likely won’t be many coming home stronger.

With just the one top-level success to his name, Tapit Trice is behind Forte in terms of achievements to date. However, he still arrives seeking a four-timer and seems to be improving with every outing. Showing real guts to outduel the re-opposing Verifying (14/1 William Hill) in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland, the mount of Luis Saez looks the type to relish a battle in the closing stages.

Forte and Tapit Trice may be the more obvious contenders from the Pletcher barn but don’t rule out a big run from his third runner in the line-up. Of the 20 colts in this year's field, only Kingsbarns (12/1 William Hill) is yet to taste defeat. Those wins may have come at no higher than Grade 2 level, but he could scarcely have been more impressive when blitzing his rivals in a trailblazing success in the Louisiana Derby. If able to grab the inside rail from a reasonable draw in stall 6, he may prove tough to reel in under a similarly attacking ride.

Angel the Apple of Cox’s Eye

Those winning streaks of Forte and Tapit Trice are hard to ignore, but in terms of visual impression, the most eye-catching recent display came from the Brad Cox-trained Angel Of Empire. Kept to a lowly level as a two-year-old, this one returned with a surprise win in the Grade 2 Rising Star Stakes, before taking a huge step forward to claim the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby in supremely smooth style. The manner in which he surged past the field before putting the race to bed in a matter of strides suggested that this horse is firmly on the up, and may be ready to peak at just the right time.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets

  • Win - Angel of Empire @ 15/2 with William Hill
  • Exacta - 1st Angel of Empire, 2nd Kingsbarns

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