Every horse in the 2023 Kentucky Derby field qualified through prep races known as the Road to the Kentucky Derby. Forte accumulated 190 points in those prep races, the most since the Kentucky Derby moved to this qualification format in 2013. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that Forte is the 3-1 favorite ahead of Saturday’s Kentucky Derby 2023 at Churchill Downs. Forte is one of three horses with single-digit 2023 Kentucky Derby odds. Following Forte are Tapit Trice (5-1) and Angel of Empire (8-1) among the top 2023 Kentucky Derby horses.
The 2023 Kentucky Derby post time is 6:57 p.m. ET. Before you make any Kentucky Derby 2023 predictions, you’ll want to see elite horse racing handicapper Jody Demling’s 2023 Kentucky Derby picks and analysis.
A fixture in the horse racing world who has been writing about, talking about and betting on races for years, Demling enters the 2023 Kentucky Derby having nailed the winner of the Belmont Stakes four of the last five years, including an exacta in 2022 with Mo Donegal and Nest. He also nailed Flightline’s win at the Breeders’ Cup Classic last November.
Demling is at his best in the biggest horse races in the world like the Kentucky Derby 2023. In fact, he has hit 10 of the last 14 Derby-Oaks doubles at Churchill Downs. That means he held a ticket with the winners of both races all but four times in the last 14 years. He’s also called nine of the last 18 Preakness winners, keenly understanding when the Kentucky Derby winner was poised for victory or a massive upset, and nailed the 2022 Preakness trifecta. Anyone who has followed him is up huge.
Now, Demling has handicapped the 2023 Kentucky Derby field, made his picks and constructed his bets. Click here to see them.
2023 Kentucky Derby predictions for Forte, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire
One surprise: Demling is fading Tapit Trice, even though he’s one of the favorites at 5-1. After placing third in his first start, Tapit Trice has since won four straight races. His last victory came at the Blue Grass Stakes, beating Verifying (15-1) by a neck. While a win’s a win, no horse has completed the Blue Grass-Kentucky Derby double since 1991.
Tapit was sired by Tapit Trice, who was a Grade 1 winner but finished ninth in the 2004 Kentucky Derby. Tapit has a mixed bag when it comes to his connections in terms of success, as trainer Todd Pletcher has two wins across 62 previous starters, while his jockey and owners are still searching for their first wins. The colt is one of the many stalkers in Saturday’s 2023 Kentucky Derby lineup and will hope his favorable No. 5 post, which has produced a record 10 winners, keeps his winning streak alive. See who else to fade here.
Demling has also locked in his 2023 Kentucky Derby picks for Forte, the top favorite at 3-1. With six wins in seven starts, including five graded-stakes wins, it’s no surprise that he’s the race favorite. While Pletcher has had more Kentucky Derby entries (62) than any other trainer in history but has just a 3.2% winning percentage and has only had eight of those entries hit the board.
Sired by Violence, who had his racing career cut short by injury early in his three-year-old season and who never ran more than 8.5 furlongs, there are questions about how Forte will hold up over 1 1/4 miles. Dam Queen Caroline never ran more than nine furlongs in her career and only won once in 10 starts. After needing a surging final furlong to best Mage by a length at the Florida Derby, how will he handle a much stronger and larger field on Saturday? See where Forte finishes here.
Demling also has a strong read on Angel of Empire, the third favorite in the latest Kentucky Derby odds 2023 at 8-1. The Brad Cox-trained colt had a mediocre two-year-old campaign. However, he started to come on at the one-mile Smarty Jones Stakes on New Year’s Day, taking second place.
He then built momentum that made him one of the 2023 Kentucky Derby favorites as he swept the Risen Star and Arkansas Derby. He ran a couple seconds faster at the Arkansas Derby compared to the Risen Star, which are both contested at 1 1/8 miles. Angel of Empire, however, will start fairly wide in the Kentucky Derby 2023, possibly neutralizing his strength of passing on the inside. If he can avoid traffic and work his way in, Angel of Empire could be one of the 2023 Kentucky Derby horses to watch. See where Angel of Empire finishes here.
How to make 2023 Kentucky Derby picks, bets
Demling is especially high on a big longshot who “has looked outstanding training at Churchill Downs and will be there with a shot in the end.” Anyone who backs this horse could hit it big. He’s sharing which horses to back only at SportsLine.
Where do Forte, Tapit Trice, Angel of Empire, and every other horse finish in the 2023 Kentucky Derby? And which enormous long shot is a must-back? Check out the Kentucky Derby odds 2023 below, then visit SportsLine to see Demling’s picks for the Kentucky Derby, all from the expert who has nailed 10 Derby-Oaks doubles in the last 14 years.
2023 Kentucky Derby odds, horses, post draw