By Scott Taylor (@staylorsports)
Ask the experts and they’ll all say the same thing: “Forte.”
It’s been a while since one horse has garnered as much pre-race talk as this year’s Kentucky Derby favourite.
The three-year-old Kentucky-bred colt by Violence out of Queen Caroline already has wins at Belmont, Gulfstream, Keeneland and Saratoga. His stakes wins include the 2023 Florida Derby, the 2023 Fountain of Youth, the 2022 Breeders Cup Juvenile, the 2022 Breeders Cup Futurity and the 2022 Hopeful. He’s won six of his seven races and hasn’t lost since finishing fourth in a six-furlong sprint on July 16, 2022.
But at a mile-and-an-eighth, the Derby isn’t a sprint and Forte has both the pedigree, the stamina and the victories to go with the fact he’s trained by the great Todd Pletcher and ridden by the even greater Irad Ortiz Jr.
This Saturday afternoon, Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg will welcome bettors to take a shot at the 2023 Run for the Roses – the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby — and will have a few giveaways to go with it.
“We’ll have draws all day for Kentucky Derby merchandise,” said the Downs’ simulcast and program director Sheri Glendinning. “And if you buy a Raz Derby Lemonade – raspberry vodka and fresh lemonade – you’ll get a collectable Kentucky Derby glass. Watch out though, it’s addictive. It is so delicious, so much better than a mint julep (the official drink of the Kentucky Derby.”
As well, if you decided to stay home and wager with HPIbet.com, there will be a two per cent cash back offer on all tracks this Saturday 6. All eligible wagers must be placed on your HPIbet account to qualify. Minimum wagered $100. Maximum deposit $25. ($2.10 payouts are not eligible).
Heading into Saturday’s race, Forte is – amazingly — the co-pre-race favourite at 5-1 (he was 3-1 on Wednesday) along with the dappled grey, Tapit Trice, at 5-. Then comes Angel of Empire at 6-1 and Two Phil’s at 9-1. As most experienced punters suggest, the important decision might not be picking a winner, but selecting which horses will surprise and fill up the exotic wagers with big money-making outcomes.
If you’re looking for a longer shot, we like Confidence Game at 20-1. Owned by Don’t Tell My Wife Stables (love that name), trained by Keith Desormeaux and ridden by the Irish veteran James Graham, the dark bay Kentucky-bred colt won the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in February and should be fully rested. After all, he has not raced in 10 weeks, training strictly for this Derby run.
Two other interesting selections should be Mage with Javier Castellano aboard and the winner of the Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, Reincarnate, with John Velazquez in the irons, are both 17-1 and could make some noise.
AT THE POST
Let’s look at the 23 entries for the 149th Run for the Roses, slated for around 5:45 p.m. CDT on Saturday at Churchill Downs (first post at Churchill Downs on Saturday is 9:30 a.m. CDT).