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Handicapping - Pedigree - History - Dosage

2023 Derby - Head to Head with Brian, Gerard & Lisa


Brian: Where to start??? He is still an unfinished product. He still has improvement left in him. The Derby chaos and his slow-starting style might not make this race the best set-up for him… BUT…He has all of the tools, and he is going to get better with more distance. His stride is something to behold… It’s Zenyatta-esque, and I don’t say that lightly. He’s fast enough already, and Saez knows what to do with him. He has three straight triple digit late pace figs and his two others are 99’s. He, like Forte, has a will to win as evidenced by his 4 straight victories with different styles and paces. One other thing to note… I’ve heard two opposing trainers mention him when asked who they’ve seen looking good… Forte was on the track at the same time, each time…. But they mentioned this guy instead. Spread him.

Gerard: I wasn’t overly impressed with his Tampa Bay Derby, but his Bluegrass was really good. His tendency to start slow is a concern.

Lisa: His 3.92 index and 32 points in the profile is exactly why he stays put for the Kentucky Derby. He's a bit quirky but he is built correctly for this race and has proven that he likes to win. Tough as nails fighter in that windy Gulfstream race which was a huge and obvious precursor of his quality back then. He fits in quite nicely among those super slots.



Brian: Really like this guy! Back to back wins at 9F with two completely different pace setups… His pedigree covers both speed and stamina. He has 4 consecutive speed figure improvements, and another one is very reasonable… Flavien Prat chose to stay on him as opposed to Kingsbarns. I have nothing bad to say. I’ll be spreading him, and he’s a win contender.

Gerard: Getting better with every race. The Risen Star was solid and is Arkansas Derby was impressive. I could see him being mid pack early and should get first jump on the deep closers.

Lisa: I'm sticking with the killer late speed of both Angel of Empire and Tapit Trice and will embrace the forward killer stamina of Kingsbarns and Two Phil's. Both sides of the speed/stamina spectrum coming from alternate competing sides. Both running successfully against the grain and both with advantage among the field no matter which style is favored this year. I'm getting excited! Nice posts for all, please!!



Brian: If it weren’t for Bill Mott and Country House still in my memory I’d be tossing this guy. His #'s are all fine. His pedigree is ok. He has hit the Super in five straight races around two turns, but… He’s boring. 10 days out, I’m gonna have a hard time finding room for him on my tickets… He appears to be adding binkers, but I don’t know if that’s going to sway me…

Gerard: His Holy Bull and Fountain of Youth were solid, but his Arkansas Derby was disappointing. I don’t like the addition of blinkers this late in the game and I have concerns about how he will handle the occasion. He has received a lot of schooling at Churchill and if the blinkers can get him focused, he could run a big race.

Lisa: Be very wary of "speed" horses throwing incredibly fast and flashy workouts at Churchill Downs when there is no evidence of 10f capability. 9 times out of 10, that early speed fails miserably before the final turn in the 10f race. When there is evidence, you grab it. Rocket Can posted a 46.60 for 4f back on the track that he obviously adores. He's a Tapit boy. Along with his configurations, if that doesn't scream Major Speed + Major Stamina, I don't what does. He's my number one Longshot guy and he will be on all my tickets. Rain or shine at Churchill Downs gives him a massive shot at showing off what he is made of. Keeper.



Brian: I hate the Wood Memorial. It is such a wonky race. Wonky results, wonky speed figs, it’s just weird. Lord Miles’ pedigree is actually not too shabby… but I don’t like him here. I think he already had his Derby. Hit Show is a much better choice with comparable style coming out of the Wood… Toss.

Gerard: He was 59 - 1 in the Wood for a reason. He got the money but I thought Hit Show ran the better race.

Lisa: Too many cons against him and the mares line is not good enough against the stars here. Probable speedier track may not suit him to the fullest, therefore, gotta walk away.



Brian: Still only a maiden winner but that’s very deceiving…. He’s improved in every start this year, with the last two reflecting triple digit late pace…. Made a real nice move on the turn in the SA derby, but then flattened out a bit. His pedigree Curlin over Malibu Moon is a nice blend of Speed and Stamina, and Shirreffs knows how to prep a horse…. He’s live!

Gerard: This guy should relish the derby distance and will get a fairer track than he has been seeing in California. The connections must be respected.

Lisa: A 3.40 speedy index with a 6 point spread leaning to stamina is a Derby Dream. The only knock in the numbers is the slight subpar triads. His mares profile could make up for it though. The balance in the scale is so easy to see, with nothing to water it down. Another with late style who runs against the grain on the West Coast tracks with energy that explodes late - exactly when it counts in the Derby. A late entry that will not be bypassed this time. The problem here does not sit with Skinner, it sits with Angel of Empire. Angel would have had no late comps but with the unfortunate and sad fate of Wild on Ice, this added one more obstacle to Angel of Empire's race. He now has extra competition with the same fast style moving at the same time from the same spot. Main reason why I really hoped this guy debuted in the Preakness, not the Derby. Scary Good Derby Player.



Brian: This guy is a deserving favorite. He’s won 4 straight around two turns, he has 4 triple digit speed figs on his resume, and three triple digit late pace figs. He also seems to have a significant will to win… I will say his pedigree does not scream 10F. That said he’s so damn professional, and efficient, I think he will be very tough in this race. His odds won’t be attractive, but I think he has a chance to hit the finish line first. A severe inside post is probably the one thing that really would hamper him. I’ll likely be spreading him across my Super…

Gerard: Reigning 2 year old champ is 6 for 7 lifetime and is a deserving favorite. He doesn’t appear to have moved forward much from his 2 year old form and I get the feeling that the pack is catching up to him.

Lisa: I think you'd be crazy not to use him in some capacity, but with some doubt in the full distance, it's reassuring that the possibility of better odds hitting higher on the super is at least a half-decent and plausible gamble. It costs money to add colts in different super slots, so it better be worth it to go for the gold and against the favorite on top. He sits in a very good category for this year, so I see no money wasted using him in several spots. Its all about profit but covering yourself just in case he has that elusive hidden stamina.



Brian: How many ????? can one synopsis contain???? Speed figs, as we know, are hard to obtain. The UAE merry go round is a known entity. He has won 3 races at 9F or longer… But against who?!?!?! Why did he lose to Havinameltdown in the Saudi Derby? That horse is a 3rd tier Baffert that couldn’t cut it over here… Derma’s pedigree is not outstanding by any means… But the Japanese horses have been crushing all over the world…. except in the Derby. I don’t know what to do… But he is likely on my tickets… He is also very likely to finish in the top half of the field based on his familiarity with 9+ furlongs alone… 5 of his 8 starts are at 9F+.

Gerard: Has been away from home for a while as he ran in Saudi and Dubai. He rode a conveyor belt in his most impressive run and I find myself having trouble trusting that race. I am not sure anything else he has done is good enough to win this. I think he will be an underlay on the day.

Lisa: Reluctantly, I'm thinking of spreading a horse who dominated a majority of Turf Runners on a yearly "highly biased lead spot" in the UAE Derby and one where you have no concrete past performance stats to consult when handicapping. How crazy is that statement? But I do like his jockey very much, so there's always that. I'd feel much better with this decision if the Japanese horse in question was Le Vent Se Leve, but it's not even close. Spread in there somewhere and simply moving on from it. I'm leaning inbred speed this year and at least he fits in that regard. Gives a bit of solace even though I really don't want to do it. I'll press the buttons on his assigned number, pay the fee, and then pretend he doesn't exist as I handicap the Derby field in peace.



Brian: Ughhhhh!!! I have so much to say about this guy, and there are so many different angles that you can look at with him that make him seem like a must use, or a very reasonable toss….First the Favorable… Three straight two turn wins; All three with triple digit speed figs, and the last two with triple digit late pace figs. He’s fast enough to establish early position but is definitely not a “need the lead” type. He has run on the rail and in traffic, and shown no hesitation with either. In seven races, he’s never been off the board, and has paired 100 Beyer’s in his last two. Now the Questionable… Three straight decline speed figures. Three straight declining margins of victory. Three straight perfect ground saving trips (although you can argue he made them for himself). Practical Joke as his sire does not scream 10F, although he did finish 5th in his Derby. He’s never raced outside of CA, and he’s never beaten any other horse in this race. His stride was definitely shortening in the SA Derby and as of today… I’m not using him. Like I said… Ughhhhh!!!

Gerard: A strong San Felipe was followed by a strange Santa Anita Derby where Vazquez seemed a little too confident. Many of the talking heads have mentioned that he was almost caught by Mandarin Hero and Skinner, but his late pace figure of 103 is strong and neither of those two passed him in the gallop out.

Lisa: I wouldn't be surprised if Reincarnate is used to enhance this guys chances in some form or fashion, or even the other way around for that matter. But based on PP's and his displayed consistent speed, I'd have to side with Practical Move here gaining assistance if they scheme that way. My distrust in all things surrounding Baffert unfortunately leads me to think in this way, therefore, he stays aboard on the bottom. I just hope neither one of them gets a gate next to my chosen few.



Brian: I can’t believe it but I’m considering this guy as an absolute bomb underneath… He’s an absolute stone closer, but every race he makes his run and passes tired horses… he finished only a length behind AOE in the Risen Star.. He had no shot in the LA Derby w/ that absurd pace, and he finished a not embarrassing 4th in the Blue Grass… my favorite of all the preps… His profile is solid, and if he can get the right trip, he could be a 40-1 shot in 4th …. Very on the fence. Feels weird, but I’m intrigued.

Gerard: Deep closer who hasn’t enjoyed ideal pace setups in his last couple of races. His 4th place finish in the Bluegrass wasn’t bad but he would need a pace meltdown to hit the exacta

Lisa: I've upgraded Sun Thunder as a half-decent longshot on the bottom. I believe that speed-dominance in breeding will be the advantaged this year unless of course we have the uncommon extra deep and tiring muddy track that will cater to that heavily occupied mid-range category. His Into Mischief configurations are on par with Practical Move, possibly even better, and I like that he has taken the difficult route on harder tracks and still made it here. I think his breeding aligns much better with Churchill and he may surprise for a piece on a faster track. Loading up on the speed colts this year to match that predictable bias.



Brian: This guy is likely to be a pace presence, and based on his Blue Grass performance he could be hanging around for awhile… His battle with Tapit Trice in the stretch of the Blue Grass was impressive. If he wins that, he’s being talked about much more…Sloppy Rebel aside where he got completely bottled up, he’s had 4 straight improving speed figs… he’ll be on the front end, and will be able to stay out of trouble.. I like Tyler Gafflione on him as well.. Not a win candidate but a bottom of super consideration for sure.

Gerard: Another colt who won’t turn 3 until after the race. Ran a very solid Bluegrass and his running style will help him. I am expecting a big effort.

Lisa: I'm keeping him. Justify is passing heavy evidence of speed over on the Japanese tracks and he's gaining just enough stamina to stay afloat until the end. Fairly even-paced and board-hit configured. I also like the upgraded late speed he showed on the sloppy track in the Champagne as a youngster. I'll throw him in.



Brian: His only two wins were at a mile when he was the pace setter… His last two weren’t bad, they just weren’t inspiring in any manner… His pedigree is solid, but he’s not showing any real brilliance… I don’t think he suddenly shines in Kentucky… Pass.

Gerard: He was unlucky in the Rebel but just wasn’t good enough in the Arkansas Derby. I have a feeling that JV will suppress the price.

Lisa: Technically, this is still a Baffert horse and the Yakteen name is meaningless. I'm already spending extra on "outside factors" with Derma against my better judgement. I won't do it here too. If this guy wins or hits the board, Baffert's hands are all over it and I'll give up looking for promising new two year olds in August for 2024. Same owners of Fort Bragg and Nullarbor, isn't that special. Nothing against the horse, but this is the one I'd be very happy to see go home in serious defeat. Sometimes the answers lie outside of the PP's. My thought process will never change when it comes to anything associated with Baffert. Just pray the horse doesn't sit in a gate anywhere near your chosen guys. It is a very tactical game, especially when it comes to Baffert, and the Kentucky Derby trophy is the Holy Grail for cash in the Breeding Shed in their minds. Reincarnate is representing Baffert in that gate, watch the strategy unfold very early in the race. It's coming.



Brian: Sneaky good! His Jeff Ruby was a show, but his Risen Star was pretty darn impressive as the only forward horse to stay around at the end of a race that fell apart. By Hard Spun, you know he’s gonna fight… His 101 Beyer is the highest in the field. His 2.64 DI is historically not great, but everything else points to a player… He’ll be coming off a 6 week layoff, but that does not concern me… Big Player.

Gerard: This guy has been keeping good company along the trail. He has won sprinting as well as routing and he finally exploded in the Jeff Ruby. We know he can handle Churchill and has been firing bullets at Hawthorne.

Lisa: The colt can run on anything and he's crazy fast. He's going to love the extra distance. I can see him pulling an "Animal Kingdom" type move on this field. Good year for it and what is even better is that he's proven that he can do it in the rain as well. Very well-rounded horse and he's proven himself in every situation, under his optimum. It will be enhanced even more at the distance. Initially, he was my #1 choice above Angel of Empire. It's his index that changed it up for me. The super ticket configuration is a different story though. Depends on final cost and profitability. Derma is screwing that up royally at the moment but Phil may force my hand to bet this how I truly want to bet it. Hard call.



Brian: I’m not sure if I can use him, but he’ll be one of the last few I really deliberate on… Candy Ride over Tapit… Every race his speed figs have improved… He’s hit the board in every race… he has two races at 9F with a win and a bad beat by a nose in the Wood. What’s impressive is it was off a two month layoff, so was eligible to be a little short. He also really got pushed around through the stretch but kept fighting… He could have another step forward… Don’t think I see him winning, but he could hit the board…

Gerard: He is a hard knocking type who won’t turn 3 until after the derby. He has been well managed by Cox and it will all depend if he is good enough on the day.

Lisa: Just like with Disarm, I cannot unsee the Belmont Stakes advantage. Midrange category with Tapit is New York, not Kentucky for me. Either the strong speed side will retain advantage or the strong stamina side will take over. No side is ever wrong, it is what the track bias presents on the day. At this time, I'm leaning to the inbred speed side this year unless that bias says otherwise on Derby Day. I would have no problem changing it all up 5 minutes before post. But right now, I must stay attached to the speedy "probable bias" that enhances inbred speedy colts historically.



Brian: I think this is a talented horse, but this seems like too much too soon. He’s never been away from GP, and coupled w/ the fact that he’s had some gate issues, I don’t like him to manage his energy efficiently in the Derby… He did make a great move in the FLA Derby, but couldn't hold off the only other decent horse in the race, Forte. Toss.

Gerard: He is getting plenty of attention at Churchill and appears to have plenty of upside. He has a tendency to start slowly and the fact that he didn’t race at 2 is a concern.

Lisa: This is the type of horse to use if you are packing that 3rd and 4th spot on a super. He is efficient on a fast track and showed determination. I came back to this one and changed to holding off on decision for the time being. If I do load up, I would use him. He is built well for the race and he could take a leap in his next, but still not ready to say yes or no yet.



Brian: He and Hit Show are very similar… their write-ups could be identical… If anything I like this guy a little more… Gun Runner over Tapit, 5 progressive speed fig jumps, Several triple digit late pace figs, never outside the trifecta, and all of the same connections as Epicenter last year.. could this be a karma play?? He came in 2nd in LA, and was the only one making up ground on the loose lead of Kingsbarns. Has looked great in the mornings… Very live for me.

Gerard: He got in with a 3rd in the Lexington but his race in the LA Derby was respectable. He has the quality to make some noise but appears to be a little behind. If the “good” Rosario turns up he could be interesting at a price.

Lisa: This is a nice horse, but for me, I can't go with a 2.43 Tapit Boy in the Derby. I think his race is the Belmont with Hit Show and Two Phil's. The difference in the 2.00 to 2.90 category with Two Phil's and this guy (and Hit Show) is the obvious displayed speed which is crucial in Kentucky. Again, if biases switch, I'll grab him, but until then, you can't use them all even if they have 10f easily. Excess stamina dominates the speed side and tilts the balance in favor of Belmont Park.



Brian: He does not belong in this race. He is a likely pace presence, and could set things up nicely for Angel of Empire, the big gun in the Cox barn. I’ve yet to find a Quality Road who belonged in the Derby. It’s one of my immediate toss criteria.

Gerard: On a dry track he may add a little to the pace. He clearly is not a fan of the slop.

Lisa: Happy to see him with a gate for extra support in the race. Should see him hanging around with Raise Cain after the show.



Brian: I have nothing to say here. He is in by virtue of a ridiculously run Gotham in the slop. No. Easy toss.

Gerard: Earned his spot in the gate with a win in the Gotham. Even if the Derby falls apart like that race, he will have to beat much better.

Lisa: He doesn't belong here but at least he's keeping Mandarin Hero out for the time being. I'd rather toss from the field than worry about adding more into the mix. That's the gambling aspect fully exposed when configuring a Derby Superfecta.



Brian: He reminds me quite a bit of Zozos from last year… Comparable experience, figs, and running styles… Different pedigrees to be sure, but I just think he’s probably too inexperienced here, and the LA Derby was just way too easy on the front end… I think he probably packs it in at the mile marker… A likely toss for me.

Gerard: This January foal took a long time to get to the races but has won 3 races on 3 different tracks. He got away with a slow pace in the LA Derby, but I wonder if he got enough out of that race to tackle what lies ahead.

Lisa: After a bit more time looking into this guy's configurations, the Tapit Factor with his 1.80 index could technically put him at the heaviest spot of the stamina spectrum, knocking Continuar out of that favorable spot. With the exhibited killer speed he has shown when actually pressed to run and the obvious stamina capability, this guy could easily "Pull a Flightline" if he was so inclined to take the lead or not even take the lead. He is unlike any Tapit boy who graced the Derby in the past. Major keeper for 10f and hopefully he overcomes the other negative factors. Decision made. I'll make sure to have the two true heavy stamina guys glued together, just in case Apollo shows up, Two Phil's with Kingsbarns. The heavier inbred speed side sits with Angel of Empire and Tapit Trice in my eyes. This completes the Speed vs. Stamina aspect. May the best side prevail.



Brian: Never raced beyond 8.5f, but hit the board in his last 4 at that distance… He’s never shown any late punch, and he hasn’t raced since 2/25. His trainer does not know what to do with him, and has suggested he’s a headcase. Fast, good pedigree, but the lack of racing is deal breaker for me…. Toss.

Gerard: He has some nice races but is very hard to endorse off a long layoff.

Lisa: This guy's breeding is sensational. If Desormeaux spent the lay-off time working on his energy distribution, then he is a player and should be considered in a superfecta bet. How deep to use is still out for debate. He has shown killer speed and has the distance without question. I will toss one of the others and use him but I will not rely on him in any one spot alone.



Brian: Finished behind Derma in all 3 mtgs, at 3 different tracks, at 3 different distances. I also watched his work at CD this morning (4/26) and it was abysmal. He is Stamina over Stamina, but I haven’t seen enough speed from him. Toss.

Gerard: Has raced against Derma Sotogake three times and has been beaten on all occasions. His latest workout was unimpressive.

Lisa: Strong power for 10f and exhibited that fact in his short work at Churchill. He made Derma look better, but he's not a 5f sprinter by any stretch. As much as he will love the distance, I think heavier inbred speed is the way to go this year unless we see 10" deep mud on May 6th. I also believe that Kingsbarns overtakes his advantaged spot on the bottom of the spectrum.



Brian: This Derby feels as wide open as I can remember. I think an argument can realistically be made for 17 horses to hit the Super. That’s outrageous. Interestingly, I think the best horses in the race come from the middle to back, and they probably won’t get a tremendous pace to close into. If any of them intend to win, I think they will have to be aggressive about securing a spot maybe a little further up then they are naturally accustomed. Good luck to all! Can’t wait!

Gerard: There is no individual stand out in this year’s race but there are 5 or 6 who look evenly matched. If Mattress Mack has another promotion, decent prices should be available on anyone not named Forte.

Lisa: First year without 101% confidence in one standout individual from the beginning. Feels like another Prep race and not the prestigious Kentucky Derby. Shout Out to 50th year Anniversary for Secretariat. Now that was one hell of a Kentucky Derby year!

Kentucky Derby 1945

Top Six and Two Longshots:


1. Forte

2. Tapit Trice

3. Angel of Empire

4. Two Phil's

5. Derma Sotogake

6. Verifying

Longshots: Skinner and Disarm


1. Tapit Trice

2. Angel of Empire

3. Practical Move

4. Two Phil's

5. Forte

6. Verifying

Longshots: Skinner and Disarm


1. Angel of Empire

2. Kingsbarns

3. Tapit Trice

4. Forte

5. Rocket Can

6. Two Phil's

Longshots: Confidence Game and Verifying


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