Winning Horse in the Kentucky Derby

The 2023 Kentucky Derby is getting nearer, and fans are obsessed about finally knowing the prospective winner of America’s longest-running sports event. Loyal spectators have their ways of identifying which thoroughbreds will finish the race first, but we will see this perspective from the lens of a Kentucky Derby bettor.

Let’s discover what specific factors can affect the outcome of the first leg of the Triple Crown Series and how we can determine these factors before the big day. Discover a few crucial tips straight from the regular punters of the annual Kentucky Derby.


A horse’s pedigree indicates how well it can perform in a race, especially in one as big as the Kentucky Derby.

If you’re aiming for a parade horse, you will likely look at some prominent factors like color and size. However, for bettors attempting to determine which 2023 Kentucky Derby horses will win the race, you must go beyond what’s on the surface.

The thoroughbred’s sire and dam, and even the siblings, can be your basis in determining a horse’s running prowess. Some elite sires have consistently produced top runners of their generations. They are more reliable than those that occasionally produce winners of any stakes race.

Additionally, a horse can replicate their parents’ running style. Basically, there are three common types of runners: pace-setters, stalkers, and closers. Let’s explore the definitions of these terms below:

• Pace-setters

These thoroughbreds instantly take the lead in the early part of the race. They are aggressive and earnest to ace the competition. While there are pace-setters who would run in a consistent space throughout the race, some may tire out in the final furlongs.

• Stalkers

Stalkers typically stay in the middle of the pack. They prefer following other horses in the race. If you have observed that the field is full of pace-setters, picking a stalker can be a good choice.
Pace-setters would be too occupied outracing each other in the early parts of the race.

Once everyone runs out of energy, stalkers may display a sudden adrenaline boost and ultimately win the race. While stalkers are less competitive than pace-setters, they can lead the charge, especially if paired with a good jockey.

• Closers

Closers prefer to run before the pack. They generally look passive in a race. However, they can win a race, unexpectedly coming from behind. Closers are risky bets, but these horses are usually long shots with a hefty payout to the bettors.

Previous Races

When looking at a thoroughbred’s previous race, don’t miss out on the type of tracks they’ve competed in and the distance of the track. These factors hint at how well a race can perform on a dirt track like Churchill Downs.

Furthermore, observe the winning pattern of the horse in the previous racing engagements. If the horse has been winning in the previous races, there’s a good probability it would still win.

However, if it has reached its peak and shows a downward trend in its winning statistics, winning the race could be a shot for the moon.

Trainer, Owner, and Jockey

The horse’s trainer, owner, and jockey are good indicators of its racing capacity. In the Kentucky Derby, specific traits of the trainer, owner, and jockey make up a winning horse. For instance, in the last 30 years, 21 thoroughbreds who have won the Run for the Roses have been bred in Kentucky. Moreover, 50% of the winners in the last 30 years were bay colts.

It’s also important to note that the average age of the winning jockeys in the Kentucky Derby was 36 years old. The names that have repeatedly conquered and won the race were John R.

Velasquez, Kent Desormeaux, and Calvin Borel. These riders have triumphed in the Derby three times each since 1992.

As for the trainers, Bob Baffert was the winningest one. Baffert has produced six winners. Lastly, the most successful owners and farms that have sent the most winners in the last three decades were Reddam Racing LLC and Robert B. and Beverly J. Lewis.

Emotional State

Horses are believed to be highly expressive beings. They are good at displaying their emotions, whether excited, nervous, confident, or agitated. Some familiar individuals, like its jockey, can control their emotions. However, there are also instances where horses will have difficulty controlling their energy in the race. This can be observed before the race starts.

If the horse is excessively sweating at the start of the race and has widened eyes and nostrils, this indicates that the horse is nervous. Consequently, this emotion could affect how it would perform in the competition.

On the contrary, a horse with a confident strut, bright eyes, and bowed neck will likely perform well in the race, making it worthy of your bet.


Predicting an outcome of a race as big as the Kentucky Derby could be challenging. However, the challenge makes it even more interesting for punters.

The thrill of the “Most Exciting Two Minutes in Sports” makes it one of the most anticipated racing events in the whole world. More than this, the Kentucky Derby is the first jewel of the highly-coveted Triple Crown, the most prestigious horse racing globally.

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