2023 Kentucky Derby Odds, Prediction: Which Horse Will Win?
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- Which horse will win the Kentucky Derby?
- It's complicated, but this predictive story indicates that horses that run below a specific time during a specific duration in their last race before the Derby have done incredibly well.
- Read further about what the specific metrics are, how to interpret them and how to apply them to Saturday night's race.
Perhaps the single-best indicator as to which horse may win the 2023 Kentucky Derby this Saturday night? Closing time.
Horses that ran the final three furlongs (3/8 of a mile) of their last race before the Kentucky Derby in 38 seconds or faster have represented 19 of the last 25 winners, including nine of the last 11.
A big thanks to our director of research Evan Abrams for this data.
Each of the horses set to compete in the 2023 Kentucky Derby has ran its prep race already. And while most of the field ran sub-:38, the data needs to be combed through and contextualized.
2023 Kentucky Derby Odds: Closing Times
Hat tip to America’s Best Racing for collecting the aforementioned data.
The things that stick out the most? The favorite for the race, Forte, put up the second-to-last slowest time out of the bunch. While sub-:38 is still sub-:38, it’s a startling datapoint that’s juxtaposed by several longshot underdogs. Still, we won’t get to test whether this metric is truly applicable or not. Forte was scratched early Saturday morning with a bone bruise in his foot.
The fastest time by Kingsbarn has a caveat, according to America’s Best Racing. The Louisiana Derby he ran had an “extremely slow early pace,” which made it easier for him and the rest of the horses to finish quickly after saving their energy during the opening 3/4 of a mile.
With that context in mind, Angel of Empire may boast the most impressive time. The Arkansas Derby saw speedy opening turns with plenty of energy expended.
It stands to reason, then, that Angel of Empire is tied for the second-shortest odds at +800, tied with Tapit Trice and behind Forte.
Two Phil’s last 3/8s at the Jeff Ruby Steaks (:36.93) also jumps off the charts, though that race occurred on synthetic surface made of sand, wax and rubber as opposed to dirt. Do keep in mind that Rich Strike — the 80-1 winner of the 2022 Kentucky Derby — finished the 2022 Jeff Ruby in :36.89.
Two Phil’s is a 25-1 underdog (10th-shortest) despite the strong finish.
There are a few competitors missing from this list entirely. Mage (+1600), Confidence Game (+2000), Sun Thunder (+4000), Raise Cain (+4000), Hit Show (+3000), Disarm (+5000), Blazing Sevens (+4000), Cyclone Mischief (+5000), Continuar (+4000) and Wild on Ice (+6000) all raced at :38 or higher.
American’s Best Racing identified Practical Move (+900), Mandarin Hero (+4000) and Skinner (+4000) as having impressive closing times, too. The trio were the top three finishers at the Santa Anita Derby, a prime lead-up race for Churchill Downs.
Derma Sotogake’s :37.52 needs proper context, too. That race was 0.0625 of a mile longer than the standard 1.125 distance for prep races.
The Kentucky Derby is 1.25 miles long — a distance that most of these horses have yet to officially traverse. It’s what makes this race so difficult to empirically analyze — and makes Sotogake’s race time all the more impressive. Sotogake is the fifth-best favorite at +1000 odds.
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