Road to the Kentucky Derby standings

The Kentucky Derby is now just under two months away and the battle for RTKD qualifying points is a feature in prep races every weekend. Here we look at the top ten horses on the leaderboard, led by current Derby favorite Forte and high-class California colt Practical Move. As a rule of thumb, 40 points is usually sufficient for Derby qualification. Odds are from Jazz racebook.

2023 Kentucky Derby

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

The biggest thing on the Kentucky Derby scene this week happened off the track, when a raft of Derby possibles left Bob Baffert’s barn to join new trainers, thereby making them eligible to earn Road to the Kentucky Derby qualifying points and potentially find their way to Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May.

This is significant for two reasons – the ones who have moved and the ones who haven’t. Any horse still listed as being trained by Bob Baffert on March 1 will be permanently ineligible for the Derby, and the next few days will no doubt bring further developments. But it’s the move we’ve been waiting for, and it breathes new life into what was becoming a rather mundane Derby build-up.

As last year, trainer Tim Yakteen is the recipient of the lion’s share of the Baffert draft, taking control of G3 Sham Stakes winner Reincarnate (+7500), G1-placed Hejazi (+3000), G2-placed Carmel Road (+11000) and the so-far disappointing Arabian Lion (+12500). The G2-placed Fort Warren (+12500) has joined Brittany Russell.

None of this quintet has been mainly strongly supported for the Kentucky Derby, which makes the next step in the Baffert exodus much more fascinating. No move has yet been confirmed for future-book favorite Arabian Knight (+700), rampant winner of the G3 Southwest, or for dual G1 winner Cave Rock (+1700), who is now back in work, or for the progressive G2-placed Faustin (+2000) and the G1-placed National Treasure (+3000).

If and when these major players find themselves in a new home, it will reinvigorate the Derby market and bring much-needed clarity to the situation. Arabian Knight is owned by Amr Zedan, who also owns Hejazi and Arabian Lion, so it would be no surprise for the favorite to follow that pair to Tim Yakteen’s barn before the end of the month.

Not all of these horses will be of Derby quality, and not all of them will earn sufficient points to qualify for the big race, but at least the cards are on the table now ahead of the big-point prep races.

2023 Kentucky Derby Odds by JAZZSPORTS


Angel makes only minor impact

Those big-point preps began last Saturday with the G2 Risen Star at the Fair Grounds, and the futures market was left underwhelmed by the upset winner Angel Of Empire (+5000), who joins a long list of Brad Cox contenders but joins it some way from the top.

The 50 points he harvested are enough to take him to the top of the RTKD leaderboard and ensure his participation in the Derby – all other things being equal – but everyone is waiting for a solid Derby candidate to emerge on to the scene and Angel Of Empire doesn’t seem to be it.

Another horse will lock down a spot in the gate on Saturday, as the G2 Rebel at Oaklawn Park is not only worth a cool million dollars but 50 RTKD points to the winner. Leading names include the aforementioned Reincarnate, the Cox-trained pair Giant Mischief (+4000) and Verifying (+4000), and G2-placed Red Route One (+8000) and G3-placed Confidence Game (+9000). We’ll know more after this – but how much more?

Road to the Kentucky Derby Standings (top dozen)

RankingHorsePointsCareer EarningsTrainer
1Forte90$1,833,230Todd Pletcher
2Practical Move60$434,200Tim Yakteen
3Confidence Game57$785,525Keith Desormeaux
4Angel of Empire54$330,000Brad Cox
5Raise Cain54$268,578Ben Colebrook
6Rocket Can40$326,538William Mott
7Red Route One33$492,575Steven Asmussen
8Instant Coffee32$442,815Brad Cox
9Sun Thunder24$181,250Kenneth McPeek
10General Banker24$429,600James Ferraro
11Two Phil’s23$275,450Larry Rivelli
12Congruent20$240,825Antonio Sano

149th Kentucky Derby JazzSports Future Book (top dozen)

Horse:Forte | RTKD qualifying points: 90 | Trainer: Todd Pletcher | Odds: 9-2

Won G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park over mile-sixteenth, dominant and very impressive; last year’s champion two-year-old colt with three G1 wins; five-for-six and is a very worthy Derby favorite but still has to prove stamina; heads for mile-eighth G1 Florida Derby back at Gulfstream on April 1.

Horse: Practical Move | RTKD qualifying points: 60 | Trainer: Tim Yakteen | Odds: 20-1

Won G2 San Felipe over mile-sixteenth at Santa Anita, finishing off race strongly and expected to stay further; earlier won G2 Los Alamitos Futurity and arguably the pick of the California crop; will have final prep in mile-eighth G1 Santa Anita Derby on April 8.

Horse: Confidence Game | RTKD qualifying points: 57 | Trainer: Keith Desormeaux | Odds: 30-1

Won G2 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park over mile-sixteenth, stakes breakthrough saw race out well on sloppy track; big step forward after third behind Instant Coffee in G3 Lecomte Stakes; likely to stay at Oaklawn for mile-eighth G1 Arkansas Derby on April 1.

Horse: Angel Of Empire | RTKD qualifying points: 54 | Trainer: Brad Cox | Odds: 50-1

Won G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds over mile-eighth, finishing race off well in style of solid stayer; form of race not particularly strong but progressing well and can’t knock him yet; heads for G1 Arkansas Derby or G1 Louisiana Derby.

Horse: Raise Cain | RTKD qualifying points: 54 | Trainer: Ben Colebrook | Odds: 40-1

Won G3 Gotham Stakes at Aqueduct by seven and a half lengths, but it was a chaotic race and there may be no substance to the form; needs to do it again and targets are the G1 Blue Grass at Keeneland or G2 Wood Memorial back at Aqueduct, both April 8.

Horse: Rocket Can | RTKD qualifying points: 40 | Trainer: Bill Mott | Odds: 50-1

Runner-up to Forte in G2 Fountain of Youth, beaten four and a half lengths; previously won G3 Holy Bull Stakes, also at Gulfstream, and is progressing well but needs to find another level; next step may be Forte rematch in G1 Florida Derby.

Horse: Red Route One | RTKD qualifying points: 33 | Trainer: Steve Asmussen | Odds: 45-1

Runner-up G2 Rebel Stakes and G3 Southwest Stakes, both at Oaklawn Park; zero-for-five since maiden score and can’t be fancied for the Derby unless he snaps that streak.

Horse: Instant Coffee | RTKD qualifying points: 32 | Trainer: Brad Cox | Odds: 20-1

Won G3 Lecomte at the Fair Grounds over mile-sixteenth, solid grinder of a colt who can be expected to stay further; booked for G2 Louisiana Derby on March 25.

Horse: Sun Thunder | RTKD qualifying points: 24 Trainer: Kenny McPeek | Odds: 100-1

Runner-up G2 Risen Star Stakes when no kick in closing stages; has only won a maiden and although he has stamina on his side will need a big improvement in final prep.

Horse: General Banker | RTKD qualifying points: 24 | Tainer: James Ferraro | Odds: N/A

Third G3 Gotham, beaten nine lengths, earlier third G3 Withers, both at Aqueduct; is one-for-11, lacks the scope to improve, and makes very little appeal at this stage.

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