Kentucky Derby 2023: Mage is getting better at the right time

Updated May 5, 2023
Updated May 5, 2023By Rowan Ward

The time is upon us to bet the Kentucky Derby! The 149th edition of the race will be run on Saturday, May 6, 2023. Recreational and professional bettors alike make a point of betting this race. With 20 horses going a testing 1 ¼ miles over the dirt at Churchill Downs, the race is an unmatched handicapping challenge and the payoffs tend to be some of the biggest of the year.

As you get read to bet the race, these are the 2023 Kentucky Derby odds on the leading contenders in the market at top recommended online sportsbooks:

Tapit Trice+600+650+600
Angel of Empire+900+1200+900
Practical Move+1000+1200+1100
Two Phil's+1200+1600+1300

Betting the Kentucky Derby Online

Going to the Kentucky Derby is a thrill like no other. Standing at the rail as 20 of the fastest horses in the country fly by is a feeling no one ever forgets.

However, we cannot all make it to Louisville. The good news is, you can be part of the action from anywhere thanks to the best online sportsbooks! There are many choices out there, but our expert online sportsbook reviews will help you make a quick and confident choice about the best place to bet the Kentucky Derby online.

In addition to market-leading odds, our recommended sportsbooks also offer the best online betting bonuses for Kentucky Derby players. Taking a few minutes now to find out which sites have the best rebates, deposit incentives, and sign-up bonuses for your betting style can help you build the biggest Kentucky Derby bankroll!

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Handicapping the 2023 Kentucky Derby

This is the official field for the 2023 Kentucky Derby including post positions, trainers, jockeys, and morning lines:

  1. Hit Show (Brad Cox / Manny Franco) – 30/1
  2. Verifying (Brad Cox / Tyler Gaffalione) – 15/1
  3. Two Phil’s (Larry Rivelli / Jareth Loveberry) – 12/1
  4. Confidence Game (Keith Desormeaux / James Graham) – 20/1
  5. Tapit Trice (Todd Pletcher / Luis Saez) – 5/1
  6. Kingsbarns (Todd Pletcher / Jose Ortiz) – 12/1
  7. Reincarnate (Tim Yakteen / John Velazquez) – 50/1
  8. Mage (Gustavo Delgado / Javier Castellano) – 15/1
  9. Skinner (John Shirreffs / Juan Hernandez) – 20/1
  10. Practical Move (Tim Yakteen / Ramon Vazquez) – 10/1
  11. Disarm (Steve Asmussen / Joel Rosario) – 30/1
  12. Jace’s Road (Brad Cox / Florent Geroux) – 15/1
  13. Sun Thunder (Kenny McPeek / Brian Hernandez, Jr.) – 50/1
  14. Angel of Empire (Brad Cox / Flavien Prat) – 8/1
  15. Forte (Todd Pletcher / Irad Ortiz, Jr.) – 3/1
  16. Raise Cain (Ben Colebrook / Gerardo Corrales) – 50/1
  17. Derma Sotogake (Hidetaka Otonashi / Christophe Lemaire) – 10/1
  18. Rocket Can (Bill Mott / Junior Alvarado) – 30/1
  19. Lord Miles (Saffie Joseph, Jr. / Paco Lopez) – 30/1
  20. Continuar (Yosito Yahagi / Ryusei Sakai) – 50/1
  21. ALSO ELIGIBLE – Cyclone Mischief (Dale Romans / Joel Rosario) – 30/1
  22. ALSO ELIGIBLE – Mandarin Hero (Terunobu Fujita / Kazushi Kimura) – 20/1
  23. ALSO ELIGIBLE – King Russell (Ron Moquett / Rafael Bejarano) – 50/1

Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero, and King Russell will only draw in, in that order of priority, if horses scratch from the main field before 9:00 a.m. Friday morning, when Kentucky Derby betting begins..

Kentucky Derby Handicapping Advice

First and foremost, Kentucky Derby winners tend to win or hit the board in their final prep race. Since the points system began in 2013, every Kentucky Derby betting winner finished third or better in their final prep race: even colossal long shots Country House and Rich Strike!

Kentucky Derby winners also tend to come from some significant preps. Recently, those include  the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, and the Santa Anita Derby. Since these preps typically draw the best horses, it makes sense that these are the horses who can step forward in Kentucky. However, more significant horses are starting to come from the Louisiana Derby and the Blue Grass, so don’t be afraid to consider horses from these improving spots.

Kentucky Derby winners are usually well-regarded by the betting public, but not always. Though the first six winners since the points system began in 2013 were favorites, the favorite has not won in the last four years.

Even though favorites have not won the last few editions of the Kentucky Derby, favorites typically run well. In the ten years since the points system began, the favorite has not been out of the superfecta.

Kentucky Derby Market Leaders

Forte is last year’s two-year-old champion and has been the favorite in Kentucky Derby futures betting all year. He will be a well-defined favorite on race day. It makes sense; he has been consistent, he stayed strong as the distances lengthened, and he closed tenaciously to reel in Mage in the Florida Derby (G1). The Derby is competitive enough that he’ll be underlaid but he surely fits.

Tapit Trice is the most interesting of the shorter-priced horses. He has always had talent, but he put a lot together when he won the Blue Grass. He broke as well as he has yet, he quickly got into the clear despite a rail draw in a large field, and he finished well to reel in a pace-advantaged horse. Add to that his immaculate distance pedigree, and he is a strong Derby contender.

Practical Move, who carries a three-win streak in west coast preps to the Kentucky Derby, has enough tactical speed to work out a good trip in a Kentucky Derby with a bit less speed than usual. Though he only won the Santa Anita Derby by a nose, he beat a well-intended Mandarin Hero, who will be a real contender if he gets in off of the Also Eligible list. And, even though his sire was a miler, his dam’s side has quality distance in it.

Kentucky Derby Best Bet

In a Kentucky Derby where several of the horses look to be real won contenders, it makes sense to look to a horse who can get the right pace, is going the right way, and has the right pedigree…all at a big price. This describes Florida Derby second-place finisher Mage immaculately.

He was knocked off of his usual forward running style in the Florida Derby, and still almost won the race. If he sits closer to the pace he can get the perfect trip, but that Florida Derby also shows he can handle adversity and still run well. He has distance pedigree top and bottom, and with that experience he gained last out we should see his best performance yet.

Live Kentucky Derby Longshots

Even though his final prep took place over a synthetic track, Two Phil’s has a lot going for him. He won the Jeff Ruby (G3) with authority. Even though he is a late runner, he can close into a pace that isn’t torrid. And, he has real dirt form, too: he was competitive on the Louisiana spur of the Derby trail and he is already a Grade 3 winner at Churchill Downs last year.

Derma Sotogake also deserves a long look. He has to reverse a bad trend for horses coming out of the UAE Derby, but he could be the one to do it. Despite being by sprinter Mind Your Biscuits his stamina has been strong. And, his early speed means he should be able to get the right forward trip, especially since dirt speed from Japan has proven competitive with dirt speed from the United States.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets

Now that you have made your online betting account and gotten to know the most important contenders, it is time for the most fun part at all: placing your bet! Here are expert plays for the 2023 Kentucky Derby:

About the Author

Rowan Ward
Rowan Ward

For a decade, Rowan Ward has been making horse race predictions and wagers in Chicago, and has been writing about horse racing for nearly just as long. Understanding the various factors that influence a race's outcome, they often find that the age-old saying "the pace makes the race" can uncover worthwhile betting opportunities. When it comes to handicapping, their favorite races are those held locally in Chicago, major stake races across the country, and two-year-old maiden races with intriguing bloodlines.

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