Current favorites for the Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks

The Ky Derby and Ky Oaks at Churchill Downs are still three months away, but almost every weekend a prep race thrusts a new name into the spotlight. Here we highlight the current favorites for the Kentucky Derby & Kentucky Oaks on the future book, including a new favorite for the Derby in Arabian Knight, an impressive winner of the G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park last week.

Kentucky Derby

G1, $3,000,000, 1m 2f, 3yo, Churchill Downs, May 6

Arabian Knight (RTKD points 0) trainer: Bob Baffert  +700 Odds courtesy of JazzSports

Won G3 Southwest at Oaklawn Park last week, going gate-to-wire for very impressive score by five and a half lengths; unbeaten in two, stays a mile-sixteenth; that’s the most eyecatching 3yo form so far but like all Baffert’s horses he must move barns by February 28 to stay on the Kentucky Derby trail.

Forte (40) Todd Pletcher  +800

Champion two-year-old colt with three G1 wins – the Hopeful at Saratoga, the Breeders’ Futurity and the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland; stays a mile-sixteenth; rock-solid and expected to have two preps beginning with the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on March 4.

Havnameltdown (0) Bob Baffert  +1000

Won G2 San Vicente at Santa Anita over seven furlongs last week, but is regarded as a sprinter and not expected to pursue the Kentucky Derby trail.

Cave Rock (0) Bob Baffert  +1500

Dual G1 winner in California – Del Mar Futurity and American Pharoah – and runner-up to Forte in G1 BC Juvenile at Keeneland, only defeat; front-runner who has won at a mile-sixteenth; yet to have a workout in 2023.

Faustin (0) Bob Baffert  +2000

Runner-up in seven-furlong G2 San Vicente last week behind sprinter barnmate Havnameltdown; bred to appreciate stretching out and next start, around two turns, will be crucial to his Derby hopes.

Instant Coffee (32) Brad Cox  +2000

Won G3 Lecomte at the Fair Grounds over a mile-sixteenth in typically tenacious style, nothing flashy about this colt; three-for-four, stays well and has plenty of Road to the Kentucky Derby points in the bag so no hurry to decide on next prep race.

Loggins (4) Brad Cox  +2000

Runner-up to Forte in G1 Breeders’ Futurity at Keeneland, beaten a neck with third horse well back; exciting contender but suffered minor setback and has disappeared from the radar, with time running out for his return to the worktab.

Extra Anejo (0) Steve Asmussen  +2200

Very easy – nine and a half lengths – winner at Keeneland over seven furlongs on only start; bone chip surgery meant time on the bench, but he is back in exercise and the G2 Louisiana Derby at the Fair Grounds on March 25 could be his spot.

Victory Formation (10) Brad Cox  +2500

Unbeaten in three and led all the way to win the ungraded Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park over a mile, seeing out the race well; upgrading fast and the next step could be the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds on February 18.

Kingsbarns (0) Todd Pletcher  +3000

Made winning debut at Gulfstream Park over a mile, justifying favouritism against experienced rivals; unknown quantity but comes from the right barn, bred to appreciate stretching out but next appearance yet to be announced.

National Treasure (0) Bob Baffert  +3000

Third in G1 BC Juvenile, runner-up G1 American Pharoah, disappointing when third to barnmate in G3 Sham at Santa Anita; stays a mile-sixteenth but needs to win a stakes to boost his credibility.

Kentucky Oaks

G1, $1,250,000, 1m 1f dirt, 3yo fillies, Churchill Downs, May 5

Hoosier Philly (RTKO points 10) trainer: Tom Amoss  +700

Unbeaten in three, all at Churchill Downs, including wide-margin stakes win and hugely impressive five-length score in the G2 Golden Rod; stays a mile-sixteenth and classic pedigree hints at further improvement; set to reappear in G2 Rachel Alexandra at the Fair Grounds on February 18.

Faiza (0) Bob Baffert  +800

Unbeaten in three – including G1 Starlet at Los Alamitos and last week’s G3 Las Virgenes at Santa Anita – and top of the heap in California; stays a mile-sixteenth; the G2 Santa Anita Oaks on April 1 is her major target but she will have to leave Baffert’s barn by February 28 to remain eligible for the Kentucky Oaks.

Wonder Wheel (40) Mark Casse  +900

Champion two-year-old filly after winning G1 Alcibiades and G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies, both at Keeneland; has versatile running style and stays a mile-sixteenth; set to return in the ungraded Suncoast at Tampa Bay Downs on February 11.

Julia Shining (10) Todd Pletcher  +1200

Sister to dual champion Malathaat and unbeaten in two, game winner of G2 Demoiselle on a sloppy track at Aqueduct over a mile-eighth; stamina in the bank and should improve as she matures; the Suncoast is a possibility for her too.

Pride Of The Nile (12) Doug O’Neill  +1200

Has twice finished a narrow runner-up to Faiza, in the G1 Starlet and the G3 Las Virgenes, her only two starts on the main track; yet to win at stakes level but that’s almost a technicality because her form is strong.

Wet Paint (20) Brad Cox  +1200

Comfortable winner on stakes debut over a mile-sixteenth at Oaklawn Park last week, plenty left at the wire; no stamina problems and certain to improve, but needs to show she can cut it at Graded level.

Raging Sea (11) Chad Brown  +1700

Out of the Kentucky Oaks picture following surgery to remove an ankle chip.

Justique (9) John Shirreffs  +2000

Third in G3 Las Virgenes behind Faiza and Pride Of The Nile; stakes-winner at Del Mar, but her early big reputation has taken a hit and she needs a good performance to sustain interest in an Oaks bid.

Atomically (0) Todd Pletcher  +2200

Wide-margin winner of Gulfstream Park state-bred stakes before seventh place in G1 BC Juvenile Fillies; stays a mile-sixteenth; goes in the G3 Forward Gal back at Gulfstream Park on Saturday.

The Alys Look (24) Brad Cox  +2200

Won a stakes at the Fair Grounds over the extended mile, first two horses a mile clear of the third; on the upgrade and expected to return to New Orleans for the G2 Fair Grounds Oaks on March 25.

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