2023 Kentucky Derby
LOUISVILLE, KY - MAY 07: Rich Strike with jockey Sonny Leon up edges Epicenter to win the 148th Kentucky Derby on May 07, 2022, at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY. (Photo by Jeff Moreland/Icon Sportswire)

Road to the Kentucky Derby: Angel of Empire and Forte Lead the Way

Hello race fans! It’s that time of year again. The lead up to the 149th running of the Kentucky Derby is upon us. Qualifying races have begun for horses to qualify for the Run for the Roses on Saturday, May 6, 2023. To qualify for the Kentucky Derby you have to accumulate points in any number of prep races. Last year, it took 30 points to guarantee a spot in the Derby; however, due to scratches before the race, the 2022 winner, Rich Strike, was able to draw into the race as an also eligible with 21 points. Let’s take a look at two horses who have likely already qualified and preview several upcoming races.

Angel of Empire won the 50 point Risen Star at Fair Grounds on February 18th. This Brad Cox horse surprised bettors by winning the race by going off at post time at 13-1, after being 8-1 on the morning line. Luis Saez guided Angel of Empire to the win after a battle with another surprising finisher, Sun Thunder, who finished a close second after closing at 16-1. For his second place effort, Sun Thunder earned 24 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.

The other horse already in is Forte. This impressive colt trained by Todd Pletcher has already won two Derby prep races. He won the Claiborne Breeders’ Futurity in October and the Breeder’s Cup Juvenile in November. While Forte is already in, Pletcher is pointing Forte towards the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park on March 4th as his next tune up on the way to the Kentucky Derby.

Some races of note coming up are the Rebel Stakes from Oaklawn Park on February 25th, the aforementioned Fountain of Youth on March 4th, the Gotham Stakes from Aqueduct and the San Felipe Stakes from Santa Anita, also on March 4th, and the Tampa Bay Derby on March 11th. All of these races will award 50 qualifying points to the winner and 20 points for second place.

Spinnable Sports will have all your horse racing news and notes in the lead up to the Kentucky Derby on our horse racing podcast Photo Finish. If you haven’t already, go subscribe to the Photo Finish podcast on Apple Podcasts or Spotify. We will have at least one podcast out prior to the win and you’re in races which will include the Louisiana Derby, the Florida Derby, the Arkansas Derby, the Wood Memorial, the Blue Grass Stakes, and the Santa Anita Derby.

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