Every Single Damn Thing You Need To Know For Today's Kentucky Derby

Alright, today's the day. Oaks was a wild race yesterday while also being a disaster. It wasn't because I didn't have the 14, I just played the exacta and cut the 3. Good times. Good juju for today. But we've moved onto Derby Day. The day that everyone in America tuned in to watch the ponies. I love it. Obviously there's a ton to get into and like I always do, during the Triple Crown, Breeders Cup, etc., I'll have one of these longer previews with some bets involved. Let's have a damn day. I'll try to update bets as the day goes on. 

The Track

Lexington Herald-Leader. Getty Images.

Those gorgeous twinspires. Very few things in horse racing better looking and for sure nothing more iconic than the Derby running past them. There are a million prettier views but nothing as iconic as that. So the race itself? We got a mile and a quarter on the dirt. The race actually started at a mile and a half and then changed in 1896. Yep, that's not a typo. Same race at a mile and a quarter since 1896. Perhaps even crazier is Secretariat still holding the record for the fastest race at 1:59.4 in 1973.


Rob Carr. Getty Images.


Matthew Stockman. Getty Images.
Getty Images. Getty Images.
Michael Loccisano. Getty Images.
Jamie Squire. Getty Images.


Mike Simons. Getty Images.

It's not the Kentucky Derby without a big floppy hat.  

Just felt the need to include hats. 

The Conditions

Looks like we're going to be okay as of now. The weather seems to be holding up after a beautiful day on Friday. Good. While the mud is fun, give me a fair track with great weather. And yes this is at 6:16. Goddamn kids in the house + an early tee time scramble outing. 

Morning Odds

Thanks to Hollywood Races (download it here) this is what we have at 6:38am.


These are the horses I'm throwing out right away. You have to do that when building pick-5s, pick-4s, exactas, tris, whatever you like to play. You gotta draw a line somewhere in the race. Right off the bat, I don't trust any of these horses: 

1. Hit Show - 3 wins in 5 starts. This was a borderline cut for me, but again, have to decide somewhere. I'm cutting him though because he hasn't really raced against anyone I like. The results aren't there against talent. 


12. Jace's Road - 2 wins in 6 starts and owned by Ian Rappoport (remember when Dave fired him?) Now the reason for taking him is Geroux won with a similar running horse in 2021. He wants to be up top early and set some pace.

13. Sun Thunder - Elite name but only 1 win in 6 starts. In fact only hit the board 3 times out of the 6. He wants to come from a deep closing spot but no thank you. 

16. Raise Cain - Huge running in the Gotham Stakes, but followed it up with a very eh run in the Blue Grass Stakes. The same race with Verifying and Tapit Trice. Was never close, so toss him. 

18. Rocket Can - An interesting horse because of how he ran in the Arkansas Derby and how that race was run all around. Actually had a chance going home. That said has results losing to Forte, Angel of Empire, King Russell and Reincarnate. 

21. Cyclone Mischief - Another elite name that I actually really liked in the Florida Derby. He finished 3rd behind Forte (duh) and Mage, but was still a good showing. That said, speed numbers and results show the ceiling is more middle of the pack. A top-8 finish? 

23. King Russell - He's shown improvement during the 3-year old season but comes in as an AE and odds continue to show the lack of strength of the horse. A true closer horse, exactly how it ran at the Arkansas Derby coming on late. But in a field of 19 with some of these other horses, will likely be too far back in the race. 

It might be dumb to say a horse can't win after Rich Strike last year, but again, 19 horse field. You can't bet all of them. Hurts me to cut 3 great names in Sun Thunder, Raise Cain and Cyclone Mischief. But when you're building bets the first thing you gotta do is cut it down.  

Longshots that can hit the board

I'm defining this as anything as a true longshot, 15/1 and over that I think can hit the board but not playing to win. Horses I want to use in my exotics basically: 

2. Verifying - Tyler Gaffalione on board which matters because 1) he's likely going to win the Churchill rider award and 2) he's just fucking good these days. Finished second to Tapit Trice over at Keeneland but the Cox/Gaffalione connection here is important at Churchill. The inside position helps here, especially with the stalking tendencies of the horse. 

4. Confidence Game - A lot of familiarity with the track. Confidence Game has 4 races at Churchill, two first places and a 3rd. However, all those races came in 2022. Not a lot of results/races against big name horses in the race. The breeding history is there, but competition results are tough 

7. Reincarnate - This horse has my attention! 7-for-7 on hitting the board, Johnny V on board and the only 'former Baffert' horse here. Not to mention two Derby prep races - Arkansas Derby and Sham Stakes, hitting the board in both while not winning. Good chance for this horse to set a lot of pace, similar to Medinia Spirit. 

8. Mage - A horse that broke my heart at the Florida Derby. Not because it finished 2nd but because it finished 2nd and ruined my Forte/Cyclone Mischief straight exacta. One hell of a move on the finish to get in position and challenge all the top horses. 

11. Disarm - Rosario on the mount here and some interesting results? I guess that's the best way to put it. The Louisiana Derby was a 2nd place finish but no one was close to Kingsbarns. 

22. Mandarin Hero - I really, really like Mandarin Hero. I know you shouldn't bet the Japanese horses based on history, but fuck that. History is meant to be broken.  

Mid prices

3. Two Phil's - 4-for-4 in hitting the board in stakes races. Keeps the same jockey on the horse throughout the entire time. 

6. KingsBarns - Kingsbarns is worth looking at because of the Louisiana Derby. The horse is going to press the pace and went gate to wire at the Louisiana Derby. In fact it wasn't close. 


The Favorites

5. Tapit Trice - Wouldn't be surprised if this ends up being the favorite. We're on a 4-race winning streak here obviously the Tapit ties. Now here's the concern. Tapit Trice breaks dogshit from the gate every single time. It ends up closing, but with a 19-horse field and some other good horses. That's the key for Tapit Trice. 

14. Angel of Empire - Everyone is picking this horse it seems. I get it. The results are there. 4 wins in 6 starts. Won at the Arkansas Derby with a lot of juice still left. Hard to argue the connections too. Brad Cox and Flavien Prat (the best jockey in my opinion out there). If there's a faster pace and he's not boxed in, Angel of Empire is going to close down the stretch. 

15. Forte - The current favorite but there is some concern. A couple days ago we had a Twitter rumor that he might scratch after seeing a limp. That was shut down but worth monitoring still. 6 wins in 7 starts is outrageous. He's not running against shit either. Arguably the best post position though. 15 is a popular winning gate number. Good post for Irad to stalk like Forte wants to. *SCRATCHED*

17. Derma Sotogake - The other Japanese horse that's becoming a favorite pick. Don't be surprised to see this horse take the lead early. That's what happened at the UAE Derby and this race doesn't have a lot of speed early. Most of the horses want to stalk. 

Betting Strategy 

Win Bet2. Verifying 

Exacta Bet - 

I'm building around my top 3 picks. 2. Verifying, 5. Tapit Trice and 17. Derma Sotogake. Now, I add a bunch in the back and really just hoping not to have a Tapit Trice/Forte top-2. Anything else and you're looking at a decent pay day. This isn't too bad of a deal $24 ticket for every $1. You could even cut Forte out and make it $21. 

Obviously take out Forte now that he’s scratched  

Trifecta Bet

Playing this a little different for now, but it's also just a first build. Trying to save some money and really just play the two horses I like the most up top. 


Pick 4 - starting race 9

There you have it. 1,500 words on today's Kentucky Derby. Gonna be a hell of a day. Get your bourbon, get your bets. I'll update stuff as I can on Twitter and put more bets out there. Let me know your favorite bets @barstoolreags. Have a day folks.