2023 Kentucky Derby

Win: .1. Hit Show
Exacta Box:
.1..6 14

$1 Superfecta: 1st .1.14 2nd .1..6 14 3rd .1..6 .9.1314 21 22 4th .1..2..6 .9.1314 21 22 ($100)

Runner-by-Runner Analysis:
#1 Hit Show

Draws the typically dreaded rail here where runners figure to get buried behind lots of cover then have to either pick their way through or completely work inside to out circling. A positive to this ground-saving trip is that we know Hit Show is steerable and will go between rivals and try to lean on them. Consistent sheet here with his route Finals all falling in the 70-74 range while featuring good developmental Form Cycle Patterns for a sophomore with a pretty much perfect trajectory of going COMP debut to REV on first route and into double NPTs before a Lifetime Top Final which also featured his biggest dirt spread at a -7.5. Perfect foundation to offer a chance to spring a peak performance here. 30/1 seems like the value of the race.

#2 Verifying

Good jump forward for dirt spread to -9.8 compared to previous running lines off the forward-spent NPT conditioner. Smaller type's best bet is to use this post position to get himself into the first flight and work a good trip as many others in here are going to be covering more ground stride-for-stride. Figures a shot to work a good trip and outlast for minor awards in here but overall rates an outsider for me. May get offered higher odds than normal as he bucked his rider and ran loose Thursday which will be frowned upon.

#3 Two Phil's

Big explosion in last to a 79 Final Figure and large spread progression to -10 when previous routes were all within 0 to -4. However, you have to think there's a good chance the surface switch to synthetic had a lot to do with prompting those numbers making their meaningfulness suspect for today's switch back to dirt. He was outrun pretty handily late by two of today's rivals last time on dirt so I don't know I'm seeing 12/1 as fair here with current condition for dirt not entirely clear.

#4 Confidence Game

Tough look for this one as his success has come getting into high 6F races and being stronger than those rivals a couple times. Doesn't project the best look for a Derby contender outside a handful of examples recently. As far as placings for runners coming in with smaller dirt spreads, (-3 for Confidence Game), there's Simplification (+2h) who outran his odds for the super last year and Mandaloun/Medina Spirit both at -3h holding strong with pace in 2021, but glancing back another 3 editions there were no more of those types in any superfectas.

#5 Tapit Trice

Looking good with 4 consecutive wins while prompting a big dirt spread of -10h in last making the added distance project a positive. Early signs of talent are there with the COMP/NPT but then we get into some territory that could be cause for concern. Now it's true since 3-year olds are still developing, we given them leeway on DTOPs compared to experienced runners because they don't yet have a ceiling to project their first DTOP is a true signal for regression. However, now we have to start getting a little more nervous as we have back-to-back DTOPs and another increase in Final Figure afterwards to where the ceiling on this one could be estimated to be closer than where others in here could potentially move to. Been a good-looking runner and don't fault anyone who likes but for our purposes, we can't consider him as he's close to co-favoritism on the board.

#6 Kingsbarns

Sure, there's a question on the level of competition faced but nonetheless, a professional runner is only expending what he's asked and needs to so regardless of this 3 for 3 record seemingly being easy pickins, the data suggests there could be some meaningful trajectory to this runner here stretching out off some wild dirt spread progression of -1h to -5h to -15h. One concern would be his lack of being able to draw the eye of a regular rider in his winning streak, but the data wins out and says he needs to be used. Prefer we float a bit higher than 12/1 to be looking at win bets, but does rank a “must use” in any exotics tickets.

#7 Reincarnate

Worked up quite a combo of patterns back west going COMP* / NPT / and ultimately a huge DTOP but the re-breaking came to a halt on the ship with a sizable regression at Oaklawn. Moved back forward a bit next out and now with that DTOP well removed from recency rates eligible to run back to potential now. Lacks the dirt spread most of this field does for getting the extra distance so tough back on win end but definitely stands a chance to stick around for exotics if we're getting over 20/1.

#8 Mage

Not one to dodge competition, he's faced today's favorite last couple times out despite the inexperience and in those races what really jumped out was the dramatic difference in how these 2 rivals cover their ground. While Forte efficiently gobbles up ground late with big bounding strides, Mage quickly paces the competition with a shorter stride featuring quicker stride cycles than many rivals' are capable of. Strong horse with a bright future but this M.O. offers concern here. Hasn't been the best gate horse and lots of scenarios lead to him possibly expending extra energy looking for holes to shoot in the most traffic of his young career. The distance and field size become big questions for this type of runner and he's going to have to be a toss for me anywhere around his morning line.

#9 Skinner

Slight progression lately in the form of more relaxed 6F Pace and a little better Final Figure so the added distance looks to be a plus here at face value for the west coast invader that's failed to turn the tables on familiar rival #10 last couple out. Lacks some of the foundational form cycle patterns I want to see to root a 3-year old to peak so not for me, but I'd argue that if you're a Practical Move fan, I think you have to consider this one instead probably getting double the price and chance to turn the stables with a dirt spread trajectory of -6h to -7 to -9h coming in.

#10 Practical Move *SCR*

Strong string of running lines here with 3 straight tough 6F Figures coupled with no drop-off in Final Figure at 76's across. Good horses make themselves good trips and that's the case here as this one has been able to save ground and confidently go inside rivals regularly. Gets a mega-field here so not being the quickest gate horse makes it tougher now to press his ability to work out another sharp trip for himself but nonetheless he possesses the tools to get it done. Visually out of last, there arises the concern a couple of today's rivals were getting to him late despite him having a good slingshot and step on them top of that stretch.

#11 Disarm

He's a tough sell as 1 of 3 stateside runners without a win in '23 and with 6F Paces and dirt spreads pretty erratic throughout career so far, not a comforting look to see him more often than not settle for minor placings despite a mix of pace scenarios given and lesser competition than others in here.

#12 Jace's Road

Peaks when he's the gate horse of the race and throws complete duds if it rains. He's definitely been shaky on consistency. Disconcerting that he failed to exhibit his strength in last and allowed one of today's rivals to walk the oval without real pressure.

#13 Sun Thunder

Prompted some conditioning with a pair of winter NPTs and if you throw the FG race where he was never going to make up much ground on a soft race flow, there's some forward trajectory lately with dirt spread going -7 to -9h while also featuring some Final Figure improvement between last and 3-back. Of the winless in '23 trio that happened to draw in a group here, he looks the best shot to move forward and threaten for the best placing of them. Unlikely but could be used by deep exotics players.

#14 Angel Of Empire

Good-looking sheet coming into today with dirt spread progression going -4h to -6h to -10h last three while also featuring double NPTs. At face value, he's my pick although I think his projected odds will be a bit low for a win bet as he needs to work a trip. A lock for my exotics tickets.

#15 Forte

Based on his style of out-striding the competition over distance, it's a surprising dirt spread trajectory to see him actually have been progressing sustainable pace -10 to -8 to -5h. Much more typical to see Derby runners go more mathematically negative in their prep races as they add distance or at least maintain. Strong pace handicapping factor here matches the trajectory of what Simplification (-7 to -5h to +2h) did last year to hit the Super and what Mandaloun (-9 to -8 to -3h) did in 2021 running 2nd (later upgraded to 1st). If you're a Forte fan, I wouldn't talk you out of him as sometimes this unexpected pattern can mean “all systems go.” Historically though it isn't typical so I'd prefer to be backing this angle on an upset shot, not the favorite. Early betting has him with higher odds than I expected so it becomes enticing to play a defensive super with him keyed on top. Outside of that, I'm not using. 20 sophomores having to deal with the most stress of their career rarely adds up to a good bet on any favorite in my mind.

#16 Raise Cain

Lone victory against winners came when field wanted no part of the mud as he was allowed to romp to a weak 75/69h running line there. Respectable 63h/74h off that but was never involved with the real players and I figure the same today.

#17 Derma Sotogake (JPN)

For our purposes here, getting an international shipper where we can't figure 6F/Final data is especially a tough spot when that shipper does have the look of an actual contender. He was visually impressive start to finish in the UAE Derby where he rated well throughout before kicking away from the competition easily with minor asking. Projected by most to be firing here trying to clear the field for pace although that's not to say he's a “need the lead” type so just clearing into the first flight would be enough to feel okay. I don't have much history of backing foreign shippers into the Derby, but this one ranks a bit more enticing than usual. It's no secret Japanese racing has been on a hot uptick in recent years and with 2 good ones entered here, would not be surprised to see them take the roses. Even with all that good stuff to say, this is a big road game and I'm just not close to buying at his projected 10/1 range.

#18 Rocket Can

They'll experiment with blinkers here with this far outside break. Consistent type just hasn't quite gotten the trips he's needed to close the deal lately. Like he's got juvenile experience on this track where he smartly triggered a REV in first route then DTOP'd. Could see a world where he works it out here as an exotics threat for the right price, but we'd really need these blinkers to do wonders as lots of improvement is needed.

#19 Lord Miles *SCR*

Seems to have drawn right for what I'm observing in his spins so far. Looks uncomfortable when he's surrounded by rivals and the entire career thus far has been made up of running to potential when clear outside and circling. If those observations on his herd dynamics are true, he certainly figures to have to cover more ground here than most and makes for a tough argument to like on the win end even as a longshot as he lacks the more incremental development and patterns many others display. However, at least he's probably in a spot here to run the best he's got available and offers a bit of an “out of blue” angle prompting a sizable jump in dirt spread to -7h + Best Final Figure in last. Odds are worth usage on exotics tickets.

#20 Continuar (JPN) *SCR*

Not impossible to see this one try to work out bottom of exotics as he's ran tough late consistently, just typically leaves himself too much to do.

#21 Cyclone Mischief

Tough horse as far as sustainable pace goes consistently in the -3 range. Not historically great form to be in for this stretch-out challenge unless he can crash into a decent spot from this post then get brave through stretch. Not much of a threat out here, but there is a path to success out there for him so plenty fine structuring some minimal investments on him for the 50/1 value.

#22 Mandarin Hero (JPN)

He gets extra points for triggering the solid 73/76h COMP on stateside debut with it being his first time away from the home track. As far as the Japanese forces, there's a clearer path to victory for #17 Derma Sotogake at face value, but the odds difference here at 35/1 vs 10/1 probably outweighs that dynamic making this the foreign shipper to add to tickets should you be looking to tack one of these onto wagers.

#23 King Russell

Somehow drew enough deflections to make it to the starting gate in a wild Derby week. The foundation is a tier below the talent of most of these but nonetheless features good progression with double NPTs into a SOFT win and growing dirt spread. Needs a pace set-up and clean trip to hit the board but offers decent longshot odds to find it. Happened last year so we know it's not impossible.


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