Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable’s four-time Grade I winner Forte is the 3-1 morning line favorite in a field of 20 entrants plus three also-eligibles for Saturday’s 149th running of the $3 million Kentucky Derby (GI) presented by Woodford Reserve.
The 1 ¼-mile classic for 3-year-olds will go as the 12th race on Saturday’s 14-race Derby Day program with a 6:57 p.m. (All times Eastern). First post Saturday is 10:30 a.m.
Trained by two-time Kentucky Derby winner Todd Pletcher, Forte has won six of seven starts and has posted Grade 1 victories in the Hopeful, Breeders’ Futurity, Breeders’ Cup Juvenile and most recently in the Florida Derby.
Irad Ortiz Jr., who is seeking his first Kentucky Derby victory, has the mount on Forte and will break from post position 15.
Pletcher will saddle two other starters Saturday: Whisper Hill Farm and Gainesway Stable’s Tapit Trice and Spendthrift Farm’s Kingsbarns.
Tapit Trice, the second choice on the morning line at 5-1, has won his past four starts with the most recent coming in the Blue Grass Stakes (GI) on April 8. Luis Saez has the mount and will break from post position five.
The undefeated Kingsbarns (12-1) comes into the Run for the Roses off a front-running victory in the Louisiana Derby (GII). Jose Ortiz has the mount and will break from post position six.
Third choice on the morning line at 8-1 is Albaugh Family Stables’ Angel of Empire. Angel of Empire comes into the Kentucky Derby off a 4 ¼-length victory in the Arkansas Derby. Prior to that, he won the Risen Star (GII).
Flavien Prat, who won the 2019 Derby on Country House, has the mount and will exit post position 14.
Angel of Empire will be one of four starters for trainer Brad Cox, who has a Kentucky Derby victory by Mandaloun in 2021 on his resume.
Cox’s other entrants are Gary and Mary West’s Hit Show (30-1), Jonathan Poulin, Westerberg Limited, Mrs. John Magnier, Derrick Smith and Michael Tabor’s Verifying (15-1) and West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh’s Jace’s Road (50-1).
Hit Show, a winner of three of five starts and runner-up in the Wood Memorial (GII) in his most recent start, will be ridden by Manny Franco and break from post position one.
Verifying was runner-up to Tapit Trice in the Blue Grass Stakes in his most recent start. Tyler Gaffalione, who was aboard for the first time that day, retains the mount Saturday and will break from post two.
Jace’s Road, third in the Louisiana Derby in his most recent start, will be ridden by Florent Geroux and break from post 12. Geroux was aboard Mandaloun in 2021.
Co-fourth choices on the line at 10-1 are Pierre Jean Amestoy Jr., Leslie Amestoy and Roger Beasley’s Practical Move and Asanuma Hiroyuki’s Derma Sotogake (JPN).
Trained by Tim Yakteen, Practical Move has won his past three starts, highlighted by a victory in the Santa Anita Derby (GI). Ramon Vazquez has the mount and will break from post 10.
Yakteen also will send out Reincarnate (50-1) for the partnership of SF Racing, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables, Robert Masterson, Stonestreet Stables, Jay Schoenfarber, Waves Edge Capital and Catherine Donovan.
Third in the Arkansas Derby (GI) and the Rebel (GII) in his past two starts, Reincarnate will be ridden by three-time Kentucky Derby winner John Velazquez and break from post seven. Velazquez’s Derby victories have come aboard Authentic (2020), Always Dreaming (2017) and Animal Kingdom (2011).
Derma Sotogake comes to Kentucky off a 5 ½-length victory in the UAE Derby (GII). A winner of four of eight starts and earner of $1.1 million, Derma Sotogake will be ridden by Christophe Lemaire for trainer Hidetaka Otonashi from post 17.
Two other trainers will be seeking to add to their Kentucky Derby win totals: Bill Mott and John Shirreffs.
Mott, who won the Derby in 2019 with Country House, will send out Frank Fletcher Racing Operations’ Rocket Can (30-1). Fourth in the Arkansas Derby in his most recent start, Rocket Can will be ridden by Junior Alvarado from post position 18.
Shirreffs, who saddled Giacomo to victory in 2005, is hopeful C R K Stable’s Skinner (20-1). Third in the Santa Anita Derby in his most recent start, Skinner will be ridden by Juan Hernandez and break from post nine.
One other rider will be seeking another Derby victory: Joel Rosario.
Rosario, who won the 2013 Derby on Orb, will ride Winchell Thoroughbreds’ Disarm (30-1). Trained by Steve Asmussen, Disarm was third in the Lexington (GIII) in his most recent start. Disarm will start from post position 11.
The field for the 149th Kentucky Derby, with riders and morning line odds from the rail out, is: Hit Show (Franco, 30-1), Verifying (Gaffalione, 15-1), Two Phil’s (Jareth Loveberry, 12-1), Confidence Game (James Graham, 20-1), Tapit Trice (Saez, 5-1), Kingsbarns (Jose Ortiz, 12-1), Reincarnate (Velazquez, 50-1), Mage (Javier Castellano, 15-1), Skinner (Juan Hernandez, 20-1), Practical Move (Vazquez, 10-1), Disarm (Joel Rosario, 30-1), Jace’s Road (Geroux, 50-1), Sun Thunder (Brian Hernandez Jr., 50-1), Angel of Empire (Prat, 8-1), Forte (Irad Ortiz Jr., 3-1), Raise Cain (Gerardo Corrales, 50-1), Derma Sotogake (JPN) (Lemaire, 10-1), Rocket Can (Alvarado, 30-1), Lord Miles (Paco Lopez, 30-1), Continuar (JPN) (Ryusei Sakai, 50-1). Also-eligible: Cyclone Mischief (Joel Rosario, 30-1), Mandarin Hero (JPN) (Kazushi Kimura, 20-1), King Russell (Rafael Bejarano, 50-1). All starters will carry 126 pounds.
CONNECTIONS QUOTES FROM THE 2023 KENTUCKY DERBY POST POSITION DRAW
ANGEL OF EMPIRE (Post 14, 8-1), HIT SHOW (Post 1, 30-1), JACE’S ROAD (Post 12, 50-1), VERIFYING (Post 2, 15-1) – “Hit show, it’s OK. We’ll live with it. We have to. He’s doing great. Manny (Franco) is obviously going to have to work out a trip from down in there. Same thing with Verifying. Tyler (Gaffalione) rides Verifying. Both riders area going to have to find a way into the first turn. Verifying has a little more speed than Hit Show. Both are doing well. Angel of Empire, I think it’s a good draw. Flavien (Prat) will be able to break running and get a good spot mid-pack. That’s what I’m envisioning. Jace’s Road will probably be more forwardly placed as opposed to Angel of Empire. Hopefully he can get himself up into the mix.”
FORTE (Post 15, 3-1), KINGSBARNS (Post 6, 12-1), TAPIT TRICE (Post 5, 5-1) – “I’m good with all of them. Good draws. We’re very happy with it.”
MAGE (Post 8, 15-1) – trainer Gustavo Delgado: “It was a good draw. I think it’s a good spot for him. The horses right next to him are not that fast. To be in the middle of the field gives Javier (Castellano) a lot of opportunities. Whether he wants to go to the outside or inside, the post is a very good place to start.”
PRACTICAL MOVE (Post 10, 10-1), REINCARNATE (Post 7, 50-1) – trainer Tim Yakteen: “Do I like them? Yes.”
RAISE CAIN (Post 16, 50-1) – trainer Ben Colebrook: “I like it.”
SKINNER (Post 9, 20-1) – trainer John Shirreffs: “Thumbs up. It’s a good draw.”
SUN THUNDER (Post 13, 50-1) – trainer Kenny McPeek: “It’s a good spot. I’ve got a lot of confidence in Brian Hernandez Jr. He’s got to negotiate the post positions and we’re gonna let him. I hire him to ride and he does a great job for me.”
TWO PHIL’S (Post 3, 12-1) – trainer Larry Rivelli: “I hope the pace is reasonable. There’s always someone who goes in the Derby. We’ll look to be sitting behind them and have all the traffic behind us. As long as we’re covered up we’re good.”
WET PAINT 5-2 MORNING LINE FAVORITE FOR 149TH LONGINES KENTUCKY OAKS
LOUISVILLE, KY (Monday, May 1, 2023) – Godolphin’s homebred Wet Paint has been installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite for Friday’s 149th running of the $1.25 million Longines Kentucky Oaks (GI) for 3-year-old fillies that drew a field of 14 plus three also-eligibles.
The 1 1/8-mile main track test serves as the highlight of Friday’s 13-race program that begins at 10:30 a.m. (all times Eastern). The Kentucky Oaks will go as the day’s 11th race with a 5:51 p.m. post time.
Trained by two-time Kentucky Oaks winner Brad Cox, Wet Point swept the Oaklawn Park series of races for 3-year-old fillies by taking the Martha Washington (Listed), Honeybee (GIII) and Fantasy (GIII).
Flavien Prat, who was aboard for all three of those victories, has the call Friday and will break from post position seven.
Cox, who won the Oaks in 2020 with Shedaresthedevil and in 2018 with Monomoy Girl, also will send out LNJ Foxwoods and Clearsky Farms’ Botanical (4-1) and Ike and Dawn Thrash’s The Alys Look (15-1).
Botanical has won her past four starts over the all-weather surface at Turfway Park. Chris Landeros, who was aboard for all of those victories, has the mount Friday and will break from post position six.
The Alys Look was third in the Fair Grounds Oaks (GII) in her most recent start. Javier Castellano, who won the 2016 Oaks on Cathryn Sophia, has the call Friday on The Alys Look and break from post position two.
Third choice on the morning line at 8-1 is Robert Masterson’s Southlawn.
Trained by Norm Casse, Southlawn has won her past two starts with the latter coming in the Fair Grounds Oaks. Rey Gutierrez, who has been aboard for both of those victories, has the call Friday and will break from post position four.
Co-fourth choices at 10-1 are AMO Racing USA’s Affirmative Lady and Godolphin’s Pretty Mischievous.
Affirmative Lady is trained by Graham Motion. Winner of her past two starts since adding blinkers, Affirmative Lady comes into the race off a triumph in the Gulfstream Park Oaks (GII).
John Velazquez, who won the 2021 Oaks on Malathaat, has the call Friday and will break from post 13.
Brendan Walsh trains Pretty Mischievous. Winner of the Rachel Alexandra (GII) and runner-up in the Fair Grounds Oaks, Pretty Mischievous will be ridden by Tyler Gaffalione and break from post position 14.
In addition to Cox, Todd Pletcher will be seeking to add to his Oaks victory total when he sends out Repole Stable’s Gambling Girl (15-1) in a bid for a record-tying fifth Oaks triumph.
Second in the Gazelle (GIII) at the Oaks distance of 1 1/8 miles, Gambling Girl will be ridden by Irad Ortiz Jr. and break from post position three.
Pletcher also has Stonestreet Stables’ Julia Shining (15-1) on the also-eligible list. A full sister to 2021 Oaks winner Malathaat, Julia Shining was third in the Ashland (GI) in her most recent start.
The record for Oaks victories is five, a mark shared by Woody Stephens and D. Wayne Lukas. In addition to Malathaat, Pletcher has won the Oaks with Princess of Sylmar (2013), Rags to Riches (2007) and Ashado (2004).
The field for the Longines Kentucky Oaks, with riders and morning line odds from the rail out, is: Mimi Kakushi (Mickael Barzalona, 20-1), The Alys Look (Castellano, 15-1), Gambling Girl (Ortiz Jr., 15-1), Southlawn (Gutierrez, 8-1), Wonder Wheel (Joel Rosario, 12-1), Botanical, Landeros, 4-1), Wet Paint (Prat, 5-2), Promiseher America (Jorge Vargas Jr., 30-1), And Tell Me Nolies (Ramon Vazquez, 15-1), Flying Connection (Florent Geroux, 15-1), Defining Purpose (Brian Hernandez Jr., 12-1), Dorth Vader, Luis Saez, 20-1), Affirmative Lady (Velazquez, 10-1), Pretty Mischievous (Gaffalione, 10-1). Also-eligible: Taxed (Rafael Bejarano, 20-1), Julia Shining (Luis Saez, 15-1), Hoosier Philly (Edgar Morales, 30-1).
CONNECTIONS QUOTES FROM THE 2023 KENTUCKY OAKS POST POSITION DRAW
AFFIRMATIVE LADY (Post 13, 10-1) – trainer Graham Motion: “I’d rather be there than in post 1. That’s for sure.”
BOTANICAL, (Post 6, 4-1), THE ALYS LOOK (Post 2, 15-1), WET PAINT (Post 7, 5-2) – trainer Brad Cox: “I thought it was a good draw for all of these fillies. Botanical and Wet Paint are in the middle of the gate which is fine for both of them. The Alys Look is inside but can work out a trip from there.”
DEFINING PURPOSE (Post 11, 12-1) – trainer Kenny McPeek: “I’ve got a lot of confidence in Brian Hernadez’s ability. He knows this filly. You can over coach these things and overthink them. We’re not going to do that. We’re just going to let it happen and I trust Brian’s judgement.”
GAMBLING GIRL (Post 3, 15-1) – trainer Todd Pletcher: “I’m fine with it. We weren’t too worried about the draw with this filly. She’s tactical.”
PRETTY MISCHIEVOUS (Post 14, 10-1) – “It’s not ideal but I’d rather be there than buried down on the inside. She’s easy to ride so it gives us room to maneuver. We’ll try to come up with the best way to work out a good trip.”
PROMISEHER AMERICA (Post 8, 30-1) – trainer Ray Handal: “Really good draw. She can drop right over and get a good trip. We’re going to be forward regardless and leave it up to Jorge (Vargas Jr.) after that.”
SOUTHLAWN (Post 4, 8-1) – trainer Norm Casse: “I think it’s a perfect draw. I played baseball my entire life and I was No. 4. So, it’s my lucky number.”
WONDER WHEEL (Post 5, 12-1) – Kim Valerio, bloodstock agent representing D.J. Stable: “We’re super excited that we drew the same post that we did in the Breeders’ Cup win. Let’s hope she can redeem herself.”