It has been a busy month in the Kentucky Derby betting markets, as the odds have overseen a huge shakeup. Bob Baffert’s ongoing ban at Churchill Downs has seen many of his leading contenders move to different yards, but it was announced last week that Arabian Knight would not be one of the runners that will be transferring.
The decision comes as a huge shock for ante-post bettors, as the three-year-old was among the leading contenders, according to any Kentucky Derby 2023 betting guide, to win the opening Triple Crown race of 2023 after dismantling fields on each of his two previous career starts.
But, with Arabian Knight’s withdrawal, who are now the front-runners for success at Churchill Downs on the first Saturday in May?
Forte’s position at the top of the betting remains in tact, as the three-year-old for Todd Pletcher has been the long-time favorite for Kentucky Derby success. The three-year-old has enjoyed a dominant career to this point, which includes success in the G1 Breeders’ Cup Juvenile as a two-year-old.
He returned to action in early March, and his first start of the Classic season delivered one of the best performances that we have seen on the Derby Trail. Forte was a short favorite for the G2 Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park, and he delivered on every front with a spectacular performance.
The three-year-old finished over four lengths clear of Rocket Can to seal a comeback win, but we could learn more about his Derby credentials when he lines up in the G1 Florida Derby from an unfavorable draw.
Tapit Trice is currently the second choice in the betting, and he is another runner for Todd Pletcher. The three-year-old has taken considerable steps in the right direction already this year, and his place at Churchill Downs is already realistically assured. He will make one final stop on his way to the race, as he will compete in the G2 Blue Grass Stakes in April.
However, his Derby credentials look solid at this stage. He won in stakes company for the first time in early March, as he landed the G3 Tampa Bay Derby over 1 1/16 miles to achieve a speed rating of 95. That was his first run over an extended distance after registering two straight victories over a mile.
There is every chance that he will continue to progress over a longer distance given that he is sired by Tapit. The stallion is yet to produce a Kentucky Derby winner, but Tapit Trice does boast the same sire as last year’s dominance G1 Breeders’ Cup Classic victor Flightline.
The biggest market mover over the past few weeks is another runner for Todd Pletcher, as Kingsbarns firmly entered calculations as a potential Derby winner after winning the G2 Louisiana Derby.
It was the manner of victory that was most encouraging, as he looked to improve coming toward the line, indicating that an extended distance could suit him even more. That first stakes win come over 1 3/16 miles, as he held off Disarm and Jace’s Road to land victory.
It was a third straight victory for the three-year-old, with all wins coming this calendar year. His previous best victory was recorded at Tampa, as he won an allowance optional claimer with a speed rating of 97. It remains to be seen whether we will see him again before the Derby, but he is a very exciting angle.
If the last few years have taught us anything, then it is the growing danger of Japan cleaning up in the big international races. This year, they appear to have a credible threat in the Derby field with Derma Sotogake. Japan has never claimed victory in the Kentucky Derby, but this runner for Hidetaka Otonashi could break that wait.
The three-year-old was sensational in a deep field for the G2 UAE Derby to book his spot at Churchill Downs, achieving an official rating of 110. He finished over five lengths clear of Dura Erede, with Bob Baffert’s Worcester finishing over 12 lengths behind the winner. It was a serious performance, and one that has firmly put him in the mix for the Triple Crown.