Forte, with Ira Ortiz Jr up, wins the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile at Keeneland on Friday, November 4, 2022, in Lexington, Kentucky.
- Three major Kentucky Derby prep races will be run on Saturday
- The Fountain of Youth Stakes, San Felipe Stakes, and Gotham Stakes all have Triple Crown contenders
- Where can we find betting value on the biggest day of Derby preps thus far in 2023 in our horse racing predictions?
The Kentucky Derby is two months away. Who are the contenders? What about the pretenders? Saturday at Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, and Aqueduct some answers will come into focus. The Fountain of Youth Stakes, San Felipe Stakes, and Gotham Stakes provide 50 Kentucky Derby qualifying points to the winner, effectively making them win and you’re in races.
Off since winning the Breeders Cup Juvenile, Forte is the current Kentucky Derby favorite. His 2023 debut comes in the Fountain of Youth.
Trainer Bob Baffert has won the roses six times. His seventh victory came in 2021, but Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone and was disqualified. That led to Baffert being suspended from Churchill Downs. Several of his horses run this weekend, but they have been transferred into other trainers’ barns.
Let’s look carefully at Saturday’s three major Derby prep races and consider where we can find betting value.
Horse Racing Predictions for Kentucky Derby Prep Races
|Fountain of Youth Stakes||Forte||+140|
|San Felipe Stakes||Hejazi||+350|
|Gotham Stakes||Slip Mahoney||+500|
The Fountain of Youth (5:43 pm EST) in South Florida and San Felipe (5:27 pm EST) in Southern California are mile-and-a-sixteenth two-turn challenges. The Gotham (4:56 pm EST) in New York is a one turn mile. No rain is expected for the Fountain of Youth where temperatures will be in the 80s. It should be dry in SoCal with highs in the 50s. There is a 25% chance of rain in NYC with mid 40’s forecast.
All three of these races have produced Kentucky Derby winners. Many believe that several of the top candidates for this year’s Triple Crown are running on Saturday.
Fountain of Youth Stakes Prediction
A lot can happen between horses running at the age of two and three. They often take significant strides. If Forte (+140) gets better, look out.
Forte won four of five races last year and earned nearly $1.6 million. His pair of two turn races were tremendous. That said, sometimes horses that win big at age two are just more mature, and don’t take the leap that others do as three-year-olds. If Forte repeats or betters his Breeders Cup performance, someone else would need to be dramatically better than we have ever seen before to beat him.
Blazing Sevens (+350) didn’t get out well when finishing fourth behind Forte in the Breeders Cup. He ran away with October’s Champagne Stakes in New York.
General Jim (+600) has three wins in six starts. His last race is by far the best in his career. Did he beat anyone decent in the seven furlong Swale Stakes? Any improvement would be interesting.
Cyclone Mischief (+1200) looked great at Gulfstream in January. He was equally bad last month in the Holy Bull Stakes. If you can excuse the last performance, he could be a factor in the Fountain of Youth odds.
Fountain of Youth Stakes Pick: Forte (+140)
San Felipe Stakes Prediction
Baffert’s home is Southern California and four of his horses are being conditioned by Tim Yakteen in the San Felipe. National Treasure (+300), Hejazi (+350), Fort Bragg (+800), and Mr Fisk (+1500) are all in the mix in the San Felipe odds.
Hejazi is a $3.55 million New York bred son of Bernardini. His only two-turn race was ok but not great, and Hejazi has only beaten maidens. That said, he was third against this caliber of horses in October, and his 2023 debut against maidens was impressive.
National Treasure beat Hejazi in October, but still finished more than five lengths behind the winner. He was third behind Forte in the Breeders Cup. In January, he was third as the favorite in the Sham Stakes. National Treasure has raced against the top horses and held his own albeit without winning.
Yakteen did not inherit Practical Move (+400) from Baffert. Interestingly, Yakteen is training this son of Practical Joke who was bred by top trainer Chad Brown. He beat what might be considered lesser horses in December and lost to National Treasure in September, but could be working into form.
Skinner (+500) ran huge against maidens last month after three ho-hum efforts including being well beaten by National Treasure and Hejazi last year.
Geaux Rocket Ride (+500) debuted with a scintillating six furlong effort in late January. His second race comes against better horses running longer. He appears to be very talented.
San Felipe Stakes Pick: Hejazi (+350)
Gotham Stakes Prediction
Brad Cox challenges two former Baffert horses and several other contenders in a 14 horse field in the Gotham Stakes odds.
Eyeing Clover (+400) is two-for-two for Cox, though this will be his first race going longer than six furlongs. The son of Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky was not royally bred, but in theory, should like more distance.
While Eyeing Clover cost $55,000, his stablemate Slip Mahoney (+500) cost nearly three times that amount. The son of Breeders Cup Classic winner Arrogate missed by a neck against Derby contender Tapit Trice in December, and then came back to win going a mile at Aqueduct on January 21.
Yakteen has Carmel Road (+600), who finished second behind Practical Move in December. Carmel Road was nowhere close to Forte in the Breeders Cup, though he had the outside post in a field of 14.
Brittany Russell trains former Baffert runner Fort Warren (+1200). A $550,000 son of Breeders Cup Classic winner Curlin, Fort Warren ran very well in his debut in October but was a distant third in a four-horse field at Santa Anita in a Derby prep in January. The price is intriguing on a horse that they clearly had high hopes for.
Brown has Uncorrelated (+1000). He won his debut in the slop at Aqueduct in early January.
Lugan Knight (+600) ran his best career race January 7 at the Big A, taking the Jerome Stakes. Dylan Davis opts to ride Lugan Knight over Slip Mahoney.
Gotham Stakes Pick: Slip Mahoney (+500)
Dave Friedman has covered professional and college sports for two decades. From ESPN to the Associated Press, Regional Sports Networks, Metro Networks, and many local outlets, he has written about and broadcast major and minor events throughout the country.