2023 Kentucky Derby Handicapping: Tapit Trice Gets the Call

By US Racing Team

Another long shot?

Another disqualification?

Is there a Triple Crown winner in the field?

The way the results of the Kentucky Dery (G1) have gone over the past five editions, we know anything can happen. And we mean anything.

Make that six – and this year’s race has yet to be run.

A series of horse deaths over the past week has rocked Churchill Downs and the racing industry. The results as of two days before Saturday’s race include five horse deaths at the track, including one Derby entry (Wild On Ice). Another Derby entry (Practical Move) was withdrawn due to illness, and Saffie Joseph, Jr.-trained Lord Miles was ruled out of the Derby by Kentucky stewards after two other horses trained by Joseph died at the track. Joseph was suspended indefinitely.

With the original Derby field shuffled, three also-eligibles were added: Skinner (20-1), Cyclone Mischief (30-1), and Mandarin Hero (20-1), a third Japan-bred in the race.

Last year, Rich Strike was a last-minute entry and won at 80-1 odds. Maximum Security finished first in the 2019 Derby but was DQ’d for interference in the stretch; Medina Spirit finished first in the 2021 Derby but as DQ’d weeks later after a positive test for a race-day medication overage; and in 2018 Justify began his run through the Triple Crown.

One more item before we look for winners: Hall of Fame trainer Bob Baffert won’t be around. He is serving a two-year suspension by Churchill Downs due to medication violations, specifically involving Medina Spirit.

So here we go: We’ve asked some of our handicappers at US Racing to select their top three Derby picks — in order.

2023 Kentucky Derby Picks and Predictions

Four of five went for a different winner – from likely favorite Forte (3-1 on the morning-line) to stablemate Tapit Trice (5-1) to fan favorite Two Phil’s (12-1) to Derma Sotogake, seeking to become the first Japan-bred to win America’s greatest race.

The 1 ¼ miles is the longest and the 20-horse field the largest any of these 3-year-olds have ever encountered. Forte has been the most consistent, winning 6-of-7, five in a row, and comes in off a strong victory in the Florida Derby (G1).

Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher not only saddles Forte, he’ll have two other live shots in Tapit Trice, the 5-1 second choice, and undefeated Kingsbarns, 12-1. We’re leaning toward the gray Tapit Trice, a son of top sire Tapit, with Luis Saez aboard leaving from 5 post – the winningest post with 10 from 93 attempts.

Angel of Empire, the Arkansas Derby (G1) winner, leads trainer Brad Cox’s foursome – the others are Verifying, Jace’s Road, and Hit Show.

Japan has a strong hand with UAE Derby (G2) winner Derma Sotogake leading the way. Late-entry Mandarin Hero, who won 4-of-5 in Japan and lost by a nose to Practical Move in the Santa Anita Derby (G2), and Continuar are the others.

It’s hard to get past this strong top half of the field to find a winner. Two Phil’s and Skinner seem to be the “wise guy” horses, but these types rarely come through.

Look for the likes of Reincarnate, Kingsbarns, Cyclone Mischief, and maybe Derma Sotogake to be on or near the lead. Forte, Tapit Trice, Hit Show, and Verifying are among the stalkers, and closers include Angel of Empire, Skinner, Sun Thunder, Raise Cain and Continuar.

With all that, here’s our picks:

Harriet ‘Capper: 1. Derma Sotogake 2. Angel Empire 3. Forte

MrWPS 1. Tapit Trice 2. Two Phil’s 3. Angel of Empire

Loose Lips Lenny: 1. Two Phil’s 2. Derma Sotogake 3. Rocket Can

Roll Over Beethoven: 1. Forte 2. Tapit Trice 3. Kingsbarns

Triexfecta: 1. Tapit Trice 2 Kingsbarns 3. Disarm


2023 Kentucky Derby Odds

PP Horse Jockey Trainer Owner Odds
1 Hit Show Franco Brad H. Cox West, Gary and Mary 30-1
2 Verifying Gaffalione Brad H. Cox Poulin, Jonathan, Westerberg, Magnier, Mrs. John, Smith, Derrick and Tabor, Michael B. 15-1
3 Two Phil’s Loveberry Larry Rivelli Patricia’s Hope LLC and Sagan, Phillip 12-1
4 Confidence Game Graham J. Keith Desormeaux Don’t Tell My Wife Stables 20-1
5 Tapit Trice Saez Todd A. Pletcher Whisper Hill Farm, LLC and Gainesway Stable (Antony Beck) 5-1
6 Kinkngbarns J. Ortiz Todd A. Pletcher Spendthrift Farm LLC 12-1
7 Reincartnate Velazquez Tim Yakteen SF Racing LLC, Starlight Racing, Madaket Stables LLC, Masterson, Robert E., Stonestreet Stables LLC, Schoenfarber, Jay A., Waves Edge Capital LLC and Donovan, Catherine 50-1
8 Mage Castellano Gustavo Delgado OGMA Investments, LLC, Restrepo, Ramiro, Sterling Racing LLC and CMNWLTH 15-1
SCR Skinner Hernandez John A. Shirreffs C R K Stable SCR
SCR Practical Move Vazquez Tim Yakteen Amestoy, Jr., Pierre Jean, Amestoy, Leslie A. and Beasley, Roger K. SCR
9 Disarm Rosario Steven M. Asmussen Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC 30/1
10 Jace’s Road Geroux Brad H. Cox West Point Thoroughbreds and Albaugh Family Stables LLC 15-1
11 Sun Thunder Hernandez Jr Kenneth G. McPeek R.T Racing Stable and Cypress Creek Equine 30-1
12 Angel Of Empire Prat Brad H. Cox Albaugh Family Stables LLC 8-1
13 Forte I. Ortiz JR. Todd A. Pletcher Repole Stable and St. Elias Stable 3-1
14 Raise Can Corrales Ben Colebrook Warren, Andrew and Warren, Rania 15-1
15 Derma Sotogake Lemaire Hidetaka Otonashi Hiroyuki Asanuma 10-1
16 Rocket Can Alvarado William I. Mott Frank Fletcher Racing Operations, Inc. 15-1
SCR Lord Miles Lopez Todd A. Pletcher Vegso Racing Stable 30-1
17 Continuar Sakai Yoshito Yahagi Lion Race Horse Co. Ltd. 50-1
18 Cyclone Mischief J. Rosario D. Romans Albaugh Family Stables LLC and Castleton Lyons. 30-1
19 Mandarin Hero Kazushi Kimura Terunobu Fujita Hiroaki Arai. 20-1
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