In this HRT Highlights #57, we will look at the Jazzsports Top Choices for the 149th edition of the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks this weekend at Churchill Downs.
Top Favorites for the 2023 Kentucky Derby
Our favorite Forte, has won five straight graded races and overcame a slow break to mow down the competition to take the Florida Derby. Todd Pletcher trains and Irad Ortiz will be onboard. Forte is currently 3/1 in the JazzSports future book and will go off favored in the Derby.
Todd Pletcher also trains Tapit Trice who currently sits at 9/2. His last race was a narrow victory in the Blue Grass Stakes on a fast Keeneland track. Prior to that was a late running victory in the Tampa Bay Derby. Luis Saez will be in the irons.
Our choice to win the Derby is the Japanese invader who qualified with a victory in the G2 UAE Derby. Japanese horses have shown their talent all over the world and this front runner seems to have plenty of stamina to get to the front and then hold off the closers. He is trained by Hidetaka Otonoshi and will be ridden by Christophe Lemaire. Current odds are 8/1.
The California contingent is very light this year and the best of the bunch may be the Tim Takteen-trained Practical Move. The son of Practical Joke has won three straight races including the Santa Anita Derby but the fields seem to have been light on talent and this will be a big step up. The good news is that he should be in front of the favorites when they turn for home and is less likely to have traffic issues. Ramon Vasquez will ride and his future book odds are 10/1
Top Favorites for the 2023 Kentucky Oaks
The Kentucky Oaks will be run on Friday and while Todd Pletcher seems to hold all the cards for the Derby Brad Cox saddles the top two Oaks favorites. Wet Paint is 9/5 in the Jazz Oaks future book after rolling through the Oaklawn Park three-year-old filly prep races. Flavien Prat will be in the saddle. Meanwhile, the second choice in wagering has never won a graded race. Botanical destroyed the competition at Turfway Park running on the All-weather surface and sits at 5/1.
Our pick for the race is Punchbowl who is buried on the also-eligible list so our choice for the Oaks is Affirmative Lady trained by Graham Motion and ridden by John Velasquez. This is a highly regarded filly who overcame a troubled trip to win the Gulfstream Park Oaks and at 15/1 we feel she is worth a wager.
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