Favorites for the 2023 Kentucky Derby

January 12, 2023

The 148th Kentucky Derby will take place on Saturday, May 6, 2023, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. Can another Rich Strike or American Pharoah emerge in this year’s Kentucky Derby? Let’s preview the betting favorites for the 2023 edition of this prestigious horse race.

The Kentucky Derby is the most-watched horse racing event in the United States. It’s the Super Bowl of horse events. For decades, it has been the center of horse racing attention for media, casual sports fans, bettors, industry insiders, jockeys, and horse owners.

It’s referred to as the “The most exciting two minutes in sports,” and with the Kentucky Derby’s popularity comes a significant amount of betting action.

History was made at the 148th Kentucky Derby

Trained by New York native Chad Brown, Zandon opened as a 3-1 favorite with BetMGM New York sportsbooks, and this position was backed up by pundits and handicappers alike. 

However, in what became one of the biggest upsets in Kentucky Derby history, the 80-1 (+8000) underdog Rich Strike outran favorites Epicenter and Zandon to collect the Derby title..

Bettors fortunate enough to place Rich Strike, Epicenter, and Zandon in their exacta, trifecta, or superfecta wagers were heavily rewarded.

  • Exacta – $4,101 from a $2 stake
  • Trifecta – $14,870 from a $2 stake
  • Superfecta – $321,500 from a $2 stake

Kentucky Derby 2023 Odds

Arabian Knight+1000
Cave Rock+1600
Extra Anejo+1800
National Treasure+2000
Arabian Lion+2000
Giant Mischief+3000
Echo Again+3500
Expect More+3500
Spun Intended+5000
Point Proven+6000
Tapit Shoes+6000
Instant Coffee+6500
Hoosier Philly+7500
Blazing Sevens+7500

As 2023 preparation races are underway, Arabian Knight, Forte, and Cave Rock have opened as early 2023 Kentucky Derby favorites.

With that said, Rich Strike proved in 2022 that betting the favorite isn’t always the best wager to make. The 80-1 longshot dramatically won the title and wasn’t originally scheduled to race until a late-notice pull-out allowed him to compete. In addition, he started the race poorly, and even during the final furlong, his name wasn’t mentioned until he crossed the finish line from out of nowhere.

Bob Baffert with Kentucky Derby winner Authentic

The Most Successful Kentucky Derby Trainers

  • Bob Baffert (6)
  • Ben A Jones (6)
  • Herbert Thompson (4)
  • D Wayne Lukas (4)
  • Jim Fitzsimmons (3)
  • Max Hirsch (3)

Bob Baffert had the most Derby wins with seven until he was stripped of his 2021 success. However, despite being stripped, he still has six Derby wins, putting him level with Ben A Jones, who won his sixth title in 1952.

Baffert was suspended from the 2022 Derby and couldn’t add to his record, and this suspension extends through the 2023 Derby. This, however, doesn’t mean that Baffert-trained horses cannot switch trainers before the event.

Arabian Knight, for example, is a Baffert trainee and opened up as the 2023 Kentucky Derby favorite. To qualify for the big race, trainers must be switched before the prep season has concluded.

John Velazquez, Benoit Photography

The Most Successful Kentucky Derby Jockeys

  • Eddie Arcaro (5)
  • Bill Hartack (5)
  • Bill Shoemaker (4)
  • John Velazquez (4)

Eddie Arcaro and Bill Hartack are joint for the all-time jockey wins at the Kentucky Derby with five wins each.

Bill Shoemaker is close behind with four, but these top-three jockeys are long retired, and John Velazquez is the only top-five-ranked jockey still active.

Velazquez had four wins but lost one when Medina Spirit was disqualified in 2021. Despite this, he’s still the highest-earning jockey of all time ($461 million) and aged 51; he doesn’t seem to be contemplating retirement anytime soon.

“I go month by month,” he said. “As long as I’m healthy, that’s the most important thing. The fire is there, and riding good horses keeps you interested in the game. That’s the thing. Have fun, do the things you want, and find the next good horse that’s going to put that fire (in your belly). As long as I’m healthy and riding good horses, I think I’ll stick around.”

Photo: Rich Strike, Kentucky Derby, Coady Photography

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