Kentucky Derby Day Final Updates

This is the one we’ve all been waiting for. The build-up to today’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs actually began last September with the first points prep, and the noise has increased in volume ever since. With post-time now just hours away, we look back at the chaotic final days of preparation and look forward, as ever, to the history, drama and excitement of America’s greatest race. Here the Kentucky Derby Day Final Updates


Kentucky Derby

G1, $3,000,000, 1m 2f dirt, 3yo, 6.57pm ET

Where the build-up to the Oaks was serene, the last 48 hours leading up to today’s Kentucky Derby, the Run for the Roses, America’s greatest race and the stand-alone highlight of a stakes-heavy card at Churchill Downs, have been utterly chaotic.

Five horses were scratched from the race between Thursday afternoon and this morning, with the most prominent withdrawal by far being the long-term favourite and champion juvenile colt Forte, whose absence from the race following the disclosure of a bruised foot robs it of a considerable amount of quality.

Forte has tied the Derby together ever since he won the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile in November, and his removal from the field at the eleventh hour has thrown the race into turmoil. Now this year’s Derby, shorn of its biggest name, is as wide-open as any edition of the race in memory.

The others with a line through their name are Santa Anita Derby winner Practical Move, who was running a temperature. Japanese contender Continuar was taken out with fitness concerns, Skinner was sidelined with a temperature, and Lord Miles was removed owing to trainer Saffie Joseph’s suspension from Churchill Downs.

The three also-eligibles who drew in, Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero and King Russell, brought the field back up to 18, two short of the maximum.

How did this affect the betting market? Immensely, is the word. The new favourite is Forte’s barnmate Tapit Trice, +250 on the Jazz Sports future book, with Angel Of Empire (+400) next in the list. Of the three new faces, Cyclone Mischief and King Russell are longshots, but Japanese runner Mandarin Hero, beaten only a nose in the Santa Anita Derby, is +2500 and could well be an overlay given that form behind Practical Move, who was +1000 at the time of his withdrawal.

There’s likely to be plenty of pace and yesterday’s racing indicated that it was beneficial to be near the speed, so unless the weather changes that should be an angle to explore. That might affect Tapit Trice, who often starts slowly, and traffic problems are frequently an issue in the Derby. None of the runners has tried ten furlongs before so it’s always a bit of a guessing game, but plenty have shaped as though they’ll go the distance.

One thing to remember is that there is very often a longshot in the first four home in the Derby, a horse with apparently undistinguished form but who stays the distance better than many of his rivals, so when compiling your exotic bets, don’t just stick to the favourites.

Last year, with 80-1 winner Rich Strike shocking the racing world, the trifecta paid off at $7,435 for a 50-cent stake. That’ll buy a lot of mint juleps, so be bold as well as prudent when making your selections.

2023 Kentucky Derby Betting Pick

ANGEL OF EMPIRE looks likely to stay and is still improving. Use him with Mandarin Hero, Sun Thunder and Derma Sotogake in exactas and trifectas.

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