Improving Mage can get the right pace setup at the 2023 Kentucky Derby

Rowan Ward
By , Updated on: May 4, 2023 08:00 PM
Improving Mage can get the right pace setup at the 2023 Kentucky Derby

There is nothing like betting the Kentucky Derby: with 20 of the best three-year-olds in the country trying 1 ¼ miles at Churchill Downs for the very first time, the race is exciting and the payouts are huge! The 2023 Kentucky Derby is coming up on Saturday, May 6. The winner gets the lion’s share of a $3 million purse and a spot in horse racing history.

Mage To win the Kentucky Derby

You can be a part of the Kentucky Derby action by betting the race online! This is the place to get all the information you need about the best horse racing betting opportunity of the year, including expert picks and advice on where to bet the race from your phone, tablet, or computer!

Betting the 2023 Kentucky Derby Online

Betting the Kentucky Derby online is the best way to play. Not only is it convenient to play the race from anywhere, but the best online sportsbooks also offer fixed odds on the contenders. This is exciting: at the track you have to wait until the race starts to know your odds, but online you can lock in an overlay on your Kentucky Derby horse the moment you bet!

You have a lot of options for where to bet online, but our expert online sportsbook reviews will help you cut through the noise and find the best place to play quickly and easily. All of our recommended sites offer trusted payouts, great interfaces, and market-leading odds. And, taking just a few minutes now to find out which site offers the best bonuses and rebates for your betting style means you can build your bankroll even more!

Kentucky Derby Field

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

  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.

These are the odds on the top-of-market competitors at major online sportsbooks. Make sure to track them as the race gets closer, so you can be ready to lock in an overlay when you see one on your horse!

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

Kentucky Derby Predictions

When picking a winner of the Kentucky Derby, one of the best Kentucky Derby handicapping tips to keep in mind is that the winner of the Kentucky Derby usually runs very well in an important final prep race. It is best to pick a horse who has been a winner at age 3, and comes into the Derby on a first- or second-place finish in a major 100-point prep.

Make sure to pick a horse who has good stamina in his pedigree. No horse in the Kentucky Derby has tried 1 1/4 miles, but that is longer than most American horse races. If their parents have produced horses with a lot of stamina, or showed Classic stamina themselves, it is more likely that their progeny will run well in the Kentucky Derby.

Be sure to pay attention to Churchill Downs form as well. If a horse has run well at Churchill Downs, they are likely to run well at Churchill Downs again. If they have run poorly at Churchill Downs, it often suggests they do not like the track and will run poorly in the Derby.

Since the points system began in 2013, the first six winners were favorites. However, the last four Kentucky Derby winners have been longer shots. Even so, favorites have still done well in recent editions of the race: no points-era favorite has been out of the superfecta.

Kentucky Derby Best Bet

Though there are several shorter-priced horses who would be no surprise, none stands out enough to spurn a long shot who is coming into the race in the right form, could carve out the right trip, and who could thrive at the Kentucky Derby distance. At north of 20-1 in many markets, this makes Mage an excellent Kentucky Derby bet.

Mage To win the Kentucky Derby

Though he missed by a length to Forte in the Florida Derby (G1), he was taken off his usual running style and showed the maturity to handle it, make a rally, and just get run down by the champion. Assuming Mage gets away better? He should be able to stalk in range of a pace that will not be torrid, and tactical speed looks like a winning trip. Add to that a pedigree with distance on top and bottom, and he is as live as long shots get.

Kentucky Derby Market Leaders

Tapit Trice will probably be the second favorite at post time, and he has a lot going for him. He showed a lot of improvement when second in the Blue Grass (G1). In that race, he overcame a rail draw to get out in the clear quickly and make a smart run. He has a good pedigree for the Derby distance and beyond, and does not need a fiery pace to be a factor late.

Forte will be the favorite in the Kentucky Derby, after a championship season last year followed by two prep wins this year. They were both strong. Forte won by daylight in the Fountain of Youth (G2), and finished furiously to get up in the Florida Derby. He doesn’t loom over the field enough to take a short price, but Derby favorites do typically run in the money. He is good enough to continue that trend.

Practical Move is the leading California prospect. He has the tactical speed to carve out a good trip in the Derby, given the fact that the pace should not be blazing hot. He has found his best at 1 1/16 miles and 1 ⅛ miles. Though he is by miler Practical Joke there is enough stamina in his dam-side pedigree to suggest he could still turn in a good effort in this longer race.

Kentucky Derby Exotics

Even though Two Phil’s took his final prep on Tapeta, he ran strong efforts against Kentucky Derby contenders on dirt in Louisiana in the two starts before that. He is also a Grade 3 winner at Churchill Downs already. His final prep came back fast no matter which speed figure system you prefer. He doesn’t need a torrid pace to make his run, and he will be the right price to bet he can continue to show that improvement on dirt.

Although UAE Derby horses have a futile record in the Kentucky Derby so far, Derma Sotogake may be the right one to turn that around. His early speed is an asset, and international races have shown that good dirt speed from Japan can keep up with dirt speed from the United States. Between that and the likelihood that more casual bettors will stay away, he should get a good trip at square odds.

Kentucky Derby Betting

Kentucky Derby Pick 6

Churchill Downs features seven other stakes on Kentucky Derby day. The Kentucky Derby and five others are part of a Kentucky Derby Pick 6.

Other wagers on Kentucky Derby Day include exactas, trifectas, superfectas, the Super High Five (on the Kentucky Derby only), rolling Daily Double and Pick 3s, four Pick 4s, and four Pick 5s. You can also bet the Kentucky Oaks-Kentucky Derby double on Friday, by picking the winners of both the Derby and the Oaks.

Kentucky Derby Best Bets

These are the best plays for the 2023 Kentucky Derby:

  • $20 win/place/show: #8 Mage
  • $1 Exacta Key: #5 Tapit Trice with #17 Derma Sotogake, #8 Mage, and #3 Two Phil’s
  • $1 Trifecta Key: #5 Tapit Trice with #17 Derma Sotogake, #15 Forte, #8 Mage, and #3 Two Phil’s
  • $1 Superfecta Key: #5 Tapit Trice with #17 Derma Sotogake, #15 Forte, #10 Practical Move, #8 Mage, and #3 Two Phil’s
Mage To win the Kentucky Derby

Meet the author

Rowan Ward

Rowan has been a regular at the Chicago tracks for over a decade and has also been to some of the biggest racing events including the Breeders' Cup, Kentucky Derby, and Woodbine Mile. Since then their writing has appeared in their own blog and across the horse racing in...

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