Kentucky Derby longshots have won the last several renewals of the event. Just last year, Rich Strike lit up the tote board at odds of 80-1, and two years ago, Medina Spirit hung on at odds of 12-1.
With 20 horses going postward for the 2023 Kentucky Derby, lots of unlikely scenarios could very well materialize. Here, we’ll take a look at four higher-odds runners that could make an impact on Saturday at Churchill Downs.
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Synthetic-to-dirt for Two Phil’s
Last year’s Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks at Turfway Park produced the Derby winner. This year’s renewal was won by Two Phil’s, who rolled home clear by more than five lengths.
Two Phil’s began as a 12-1 underdog from the morning-line odds. That has since moved up to 8-1 at the time of publication.
Turfway Park’s surface is a synthetic track, rather than conventional dirt. However, this doesn’t mean the Jeff Ruby hasn’t been a productive Kentucky Derby prep. Animal Kingdom won both races in 2011, and 2007 winner Hard Spun ran second behind Street Sense on the first Saturday in May.
Two Phil’s is trained by Larry Rivelli. Both Rivelli and jockey Jareth Loveberry will be competing in the Kentucky Derby for the first time.
The other, other Todd Pletcher horse
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher conditions two of this year’s top contenders, Forte and Tapit Trice. He’ll also saddle a third runner Saturday afternoon, one that’s 3-for-3 in his career but won’t be nearly as well-bet at the windows.
Kingsbarns stamped himself as a Kentucky Derby prospect with a wire-to-wire score in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Unlike most final Derby preps, the Louisiana Derby is 1 3/16 miles, not 1 1/8 miles. This may mean he could be less affected by Saturday’s added distance than some of his rivals.
Regular rider Flavien Prat took off Kingsbarns to ride Arkansas Derby winner Angel of Empire. As a result, new jockey Jose Ortiz will be in the irons this weekend.
Is this the year for Steve Asmussen?
Last year, Steve Asmussen trained Kentucky Derby favorite Epicenter. Epicenter led going into the stretch and repelled the challenge of Zandon, but ran second behind the late-running Rich Strike.
This year, Asmussen is back with Disarm, one of the last horses to earn a spot in the Derby field. Disarm was second in the Louisiana Derby, but needed to run in the final Kentucky Derby prep race to earn enough points. He was a distant third that day in the Grade 3 Lexington, but that boosted his total to 46 points (just enough).
Asmussen is horse racing’s all-time winningest trainer, and was inducted into the sport’s Hall of Fame in 2016. However, while he’s won some of horse racing’s biggest prizes, he’s never trained a Kentucky Derby winner.
Mandarin Hero draws in off the AE list
The Kentucky Derby field is determined by prep races that award points to the top finishers. Most years, 40 points is enough for a runner to earn a spot in the race.
This year, though, Mandarin Hero’s second-place finish in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby only put him on the also-eligible list. He needed two scratches between Monday afternoon and Friday morning to get into the field. With four runners from the body of the race scratching, though, he’ll run this Saturday.
Mandarin Hero finished just a nose behind Practical Move, who scratched Thursday due to an elevated temperature. Much like Derma Sotogake, he’ll look to become the first Japanese-bred horse to win America’s most well-known horse race.