With apologies to Belterra Bill, it’s time I got in the ranking of Kentucky Derby 2023 contenders game. In the spirit of how I’ve handicapped the Triple Crown preps so far this year, I present my top 19 list in the form of fair odds.
It’s mostly an academic exercise, especially in weeks when there is not an actual Kentucky Derby Future Wager. Unless you are in Nevada, there is no access to this market, but it does serve to remind that there is a 100 percent chance some horse will win the Kentucky Derby with each contender having some chance, and all the chances add up to 100.
Couching my top 19 in this manner also keeps me from getting overly creative. For example, if I just did a top 10, I’d probably have Skinner and Congruent rounding out the top five behind the same three who are on top of my fair odds – Forte, Practical Move and Tapit Trice. But from a fair-odds perspective, it is difficult to say at this point that Skinner is a more likely winner than Instant Coffee or that Congruent is more likely than Confidence Game.
Part of that is points. Horses already are in, like Confidence Game, have an easier path to the Kentucky Derby winner’s circle than those who don’t.
As for the top three, they were no brainers to me. Forte paired his top effort in his 3-year-old debut and is nearly twice as likely as my second-most likely horse Practical Move. That one won the San Felipe Stakes (G3), which I along with Paddock Prince in the video below see as the best prep to date with Geaux Rocket Ride and Skinner all among my top 10. If you took them as a San Felipe entry, they’d be fair odds at 9-2.
I expect a major shake-up after next weekend, when there are seven virtually guaranteed berths available by virtue of three races worth 100 points to the winner and 40 to second and another worth 50 to the winner.
We’re at the stage of the Kentucky Derby prep season where having the points is enough to be among the top 19 most likely winners.