The American Triple Crown season is right around the corner, with the 2023 Kentucky Derby set to take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Churchill Downs. The betting markets for the race are already open, as bettors look to get the best value for their selections at this very early stage.
However, many of the leading contenders are yet to make their presence felt, as the Championship races on the Road to the Kentucky Derby get underway with the Risen Star Stakes in the middle of February. You can find more details about current odds here: https://www.twinspires.com/kentuckyderby/odds
The picture for the race at Churchill Downs will look clearer then, but who are some of the top contenders that could be among the leading chances for the famous race?
Victory Formation already appears to be the leading contender for the Derby from the Brad Cox yard this season, and has been visually very impressive on all three career starts to date. The three-year-old took a huge step in the right direction with victory over a mile in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn Park in January, recording a speed figure of 92.
Victory Formation has won on all three career starts to date, but we learned more about his credentials on that display, as he saw out the mile distance in a straightforward fashion. He’s still around 25/1 to win the Derby, but expect that price to be slashed if successful in the G2 Risen Star Stakes over 1 1/8 miles.
Instant Coffee is another that could be over-priced at the current prices. The Brad Cox-trained runner has won three from four starts, with his only career defeat coming when fourth in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity. On that day, he finished behind Forte, who has proven to be a specialist at Keeneland. Still, a solid speed figure of 90 was recorded.
Instant Coffee got back to winning ways over 1 1/16 miles on his following start, landing the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs, which could ultimately be a key course form line if lining up in the Kentucky Derby. A second straight victory in the graded company followed at the end of January, as he was a game-winner of the G3 Lecomte Stakes, finishing with a speed figure of 93 ahead of an improving Two Phil’s.
Rocket Can looks set to be the Derby contender for Will Mott in 2023, and he has already proven his quality across a variety of different tracks. After losing on each of his first two starts, he was stepped up to 1 1/16 miles to finally break his maiden. A speed figure of 89 was recorded on that start, finishing ahead of Spielman.
However, defeat followed at the same track before the end of 2022, as he was narrowly denied by Confidence Game in a lunging finish. But, he got back to winning ways on his return to action in February with a strong finish in the G3 Holy Bull.
Arabian Knight has long been the favourite to win the Kentucky Derby in 2023. However, he will need to leave the yard of Bob Baffert imminently to start picking up qualifying points for the race at Churchill Downs, given that the Hall of Famer remains banned from making entrants this year. Arabian Knight was dazzling on his debut at Keeneland, reaching a speed figure of 105 when beating Determinedly.
He stepped up in distance effortlessly in difficult circumstances on his most recent display, as he landed the G3 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park with a speed figure of 97. Bettors will be hopeful that his future would have been determined before we see him again in the G2 Rebel Stakes at the end of February.
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