By Jarrod Horak
After Kentucky Derby 2023 post positions were drawn on Monday, we had a 20-horse field with a trio of also-eligibles. As I reported yesterday, Practical Move, Lord Miles, and Continuar dropped out of the race, and Cyclone Mischief, Mandarin Hero, and King Russell drew in.
On Friday, word came down that Skinner spiked a temperature and had to be withdrawn from the Derby. Hopefully that is the end of the defections.
There are 19 sophomores still in the field including morning line favorite Forte, but there were some rumors about him missing the Derby after he bobbled during a morning gallop on Thursday. He was equipped with a three-quarter shoe on his right front foot on Friday and appeared to be moving smoothly again.
This is my final report before the big race and it is top pick time. I have considered all factors including but not limited to watching replays and morning workouts, speed ratings, pedigree, post positions, and historical trends, and after hours of homework, I have landed on Tapit Trice.
Todd Pletcher’s $1.3 million Tapit colt has captured his last four starts. He was not the best gate horse earlier this year but was able to overcome his gate issues in the Tampa Bay Derby. His final Derby prep came in the Blue Grass Stakes at Keeneland on April 8, and he showed professionalism that day. He had a better start from the inside post, and his rider Luis Saez was able to steer him out on the backstretch. He made a wide early move to get into contention, and he wore down Verifying to win by a neck.
Tapit Trice owns a strong mile and a quarter pedigree and has consistently looked strong in his morning activity leading up to the Derby. As he demonstrated in the Blue Grass, he is capable of making an early move and sustaining it for an extended period. He has the seasoning and raw talent to win a demanding race like the Derby if he can work out a favorable journey.
That’s a pre-Derby wrap! I will be back with a Kentucky Derby recap later this weekend, and I will continue my Triple Crown series reports throughout the series.
Grade 1 Kentucky Derby – Churchill Downs Race 12 – Saturday, May 6, 2023
1 – Hit Show (30-1)
2 – Verifying (15-1)
3 – Two Phil’s (12-1)
4 – Confidence Game (20-1)
5 – Tapit Trice (5-1)
6 – Kingsbarns (12-1)
7 – Reincarnate (50-1)
8 – Mage (15-1)
9 – Skinner (20-1) – SCRATCHED
10 – Practical Move – SCRATCHED
11 – Disarm (30-1)
12 – Jace’s Road (15-1)
13 – Sun Thunder (50-1)
14 – Angel of Empire (8-1)
15 – Forte (3-1)
16 – Raise Cain (50-1)
17 – Derma Sotogake (10-1)
18 – Rocket Can (30-1)
19 – Lord Miles – SCRATCHED
20 – Continuar (50-1) – SCRATCHED
21 – Cyclone Mischief (30-1) – DRAWS IN
22 – Mandarin Hero (22-1) – DRAWS IN
23 – King Russell (50-1) – DRAWS IN