2023 Kentucky Derby Odds & Picks: Wide Open Race Leads to Various Betting Opportunities

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Jockey Flavien Prat on Angel Of Empire, crosses the finish line to win the 87th running of the Arkansas Derby on April, 2023. Wesley Hitt/Getty Images/AFP

Though Forte is the 3-1 favorite and has arguably the best jockey and a Hall of Fame trainer in Todd Pletcher, the betting markets at the top US sportsbooks are lukewarm on the favorite. Maybe it is because the odds are 3-1, which doesn’t suggest an overwhelming favorite.

Though Forte has four Grade 1 wins and has hit the finish line first in five straight, including a big rally to win the Florida Derby, there are bettors wondering if he’s peeked, having declining speed ratings despite still having the top horse speed numbers in its past three races. Plus, veteran bettors are always on the lookout to bet against a favorite to find greater value.

Here are some nuts and bolts for you to look over as we prepare to bet on the Kentucky Derby.

2023 Kentucky Derby

Saturday, May 06, 2023 – Post Time 06:57 EDT

  • Race 12 – 1 1/4 Miles, 3-Year-Olds
  • Purse: $3 Million

Here is the complete field for this year’s Kentucky Derby (with jockey, trainer and the morning line betting 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, 50-1
  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, Yoshito Yahagi, Ryusei Sakai, 50-1

Win Candidates

We would generally agree with most experts that this race feels rather wide open and it will make far more sense when it is over to understand how the Triple Crown races could play out and what the season looks like for various three-year-olds.

It is hard to gloss over Forte’s resume. Though he wasn’t at his best in the Florida Derby, he showed a big heart with a fantastic stretch run. His workouts have remained sharp and have shown no ill effects from the hard race in Florida. It seems silly not to have Forte on exacta and trifecta cards.

Tapit Trice won the Tampa Bay Derby and Blue Grass Stakes, and while impressive, those races have not been a precursor to success at Churchill Downs. Because trainer Pletcher understands this horse has to be well-positioned heading down the backstretch, he’ll need jockey Luis Saez to avoid traffic, yet leave something in the tank for the stretch run. Double T will run down tired horses, but can he reach the finish line first?

Angel of Empire might be hitting its stride at the perfect time. The Arkansas Derby champion has not lost in graded stakes races and has done so on three different tracks, so you know the versatility is there against stiff competition. AE has an explosive late kick that could send him to the wire first.

The best of the rest are Two Phil’s and Practical Move. Two Phil’s won the Jeff Ruby Stakes and is capable of a big day. Practical Move is generally thought to be running with the leaders heading for home. He’s not a speed merchant and would likely need to hold on at this distance rather than run away. However, the post position is perfect.

Top 6 Post Positions That Have Won the Kentucky Derby

  • #5 – 10 times
  • #10 – 9
  • #7, #8 and #1 – 8
  • #2 – 7

Note: #1 and #2 are less frequent in recent history with large fields.

Worst 7 Post Positions For the Kentucky Derby

  • #17 – Never
  • #19 – 1
  • #6, #11, #14, #18 and #20 –2

Trifecta and Exotic Betting Choices

Just outside the Top 5 candidates to win are Derma Sotogake and Skinner. Derma Sotogake won the UAE Derby on March 25 in Dubai and his betting odds are only 10-1.

Last year’s UAE Derby winner, Crown Pride finished 13th place in the Derby. Still, the odds suggest a shot to cash, if not to win. Skinner has chased Practical Move twice and with more room to work, he’s an interesting long shot at 20-1, with two Shows in closing fast at the Santa Anita Derby and San Felipe Stakes.

Verifying has always shown promise. He has been a bit inconsistent but is coming off his best race yet in the Blue Grass, and he might be the best stalker, which would save him energy.

Kingsbarns is probably not a win contender, but this three-year-old has good tactical speed and shows continual improvement after not racing as a two-year-old.

The Long Shot

Rocket Can has gone to blinkers and the quality of workouts has improved dramatically. Might be worth a few bucks on a long shot.

Derby Picks Presently

With Practical Move having a Beyer Speed Rating of 88 and 100 in his last two outings, chances are morning line odds won’t hold up on race day, especially being well-positioned coming out of the gate.

However, Angel of Empire and Forte check all the boxes for us and we like both in a variety of wagers.

Below are our horse racing betting picks for this important race.


  • Win – Largest bet on #14
  • Win – Small bet on #18
  • Exacta Boxes on #14 – #15 and #14 – #5
  • Exacta #14, #15 with #2, #5, #9, #10, #18
  • Trifectas Choices #5, #14, #15 with #2 #5, #9 #14, #15 with #2, #9, #10 

*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.